The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1413 Wednesday, 9 July 2003
Date: Wednesday, 9 Jul 2003 06:59:00 -0400
Subject: Bohemian Coast Revisited
I know this is horse is dead and buried, and I don't want to start
another round of pass the whip, but in the course of the interminable
study of Shakespeare's sources, I discovered last night that it was
Greene who attributed a coastline to Bohemia in Pandosto.
I don't remember this being mentioned in the arguments I've seen about
Shakespeare's geography. It's usually between ignorance and some
thematic motivation. Have I missed something? If he took the geography
from his source, he was just smirching himself with Greene's feathers.
After all, he changed a lot of other details.
Greene ironically didn't need a Bohemian coastline, as the child is
exposed in Sicily, whereas Shakespeare's Clown can not simultaneously
have watched the ship sink and the bear eat Antigonus from a landlocked
country, so Shakespeare made a lot of hay out of the error. In any case,
it seems to me that explaining an original inaccuracy is different from
explaining a plagiarized inaccuracy.
In Pandosto, it takes three weeks for a trip from the coastline of
Bohemia to Delphos, while in Shakespeare, it takes 23 days for a round
trip from Sicily. Given all this unnecessary detail, it seems that
Shakespeare had to have figured out where Greene's coastline was
supposed to be on a real map and made a relative calculation. Depending
on wind direction, half the time seems accurate, so I don't see how he
could have missed it.
Credit should go where credit is due.
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.