The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1380 Thursday 5 August 1999.
Date: Wednesday, 4 Aug 1999 20:01:00 +0100
Subject: Is this British?
This group has lately carried a lot of speculation on the relationship
of elements in the plays and sonnets to facets of Elizabethan life and
society. At first, I felt this was part of what the British Press know
as 'the silly season', but the contributions are evidently sincerely
meant. Yet it all seems very alien somehow. Of course Shakespeare writes
from the experience of his own society but actual allusion seems very
limited: such things as Banquo and James I, Mistress Mall, perhaps Dr
Lopez, just possibly Richard II as Elizabeth. The sonnets are obviously
a special case, but even so, speculation in established English
criticism this century has been rare, to say the least. Even A. L. Rowse
was Cornish, for goodness' sake! And before him, you are off to the
So a hypothesis to destroy: the personal contemporary interpretation is
a North American phenomenon. What should we make of it, if true? Is it
also evident in academic journals?
With miching mallecho,