December

Friar Laurence as Satanic Pharisee: Shakespeare’s Acrostic Allusion

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.575  Monday, 28 December 2015

 

From:        Marianne Kimura <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 24, 2015 at 10:10:33 AM EST

Subject:    Re: Friar Laurence as Satanic Pharisee

 

Shakespeare very likely coded the word SATAN into Friar Lawrence’s lines, but only because Shakespeare was a nature worshiper. He has Benvolio refer to “the worshipp’d sun” (I.i.118) But that is not all…..Juliet IS that sun, the beautiful nature which is based on solar energy (not coal) and that is why the first line of “Romeo and Juliet” is against coal: “Gregory, on my word, we’ll not carry coals”. (I.i.1)

 

To read more, you’ll have to check out my work on Academia.  I hesitate to boast, but I’ve been steadily in the top 2 or 3% of views since I uploaded my first paper because fossil fuels and our beautiful planet (if you don’t regard your planet, your home, floating in the cosmos, as somewhat special, then what would be special to you?) as themes in Shakespeare are increasingly topical in this era of Climate Change and environmental devastation caused by fossil fuels.

 

Nature used to be widely considered sacred and by some (Wiccans, Pagans, Strega followers, etc.) it still is. Actually, it is also considered sacred here in Japan, where we can easily visit thousands shines dedicated to the Sun Goddess Amaterasu or foxes (Inari) or other nature gods.

 

Prospero, a magus figure, is based also on the idea of using nature to perform natural magic, as is the hermit/friar figure who repeatedly shows up to perform some sort of magic: Friar Lawrence, Friar Francis, Rosalind’s uncle “a great magician obscured in the circle of this forest”. They are not harmful; the idea of natural magic was something that Giordano Bruno proposed and explained. Not based on anything supernatural, it relied on deep understanding of nature. And you could include performance studies, literature, imagery, myth, etc. the things Shakespeare crafted his magic with.

 

I’m sure most readers know of the Pan/Satan connection through the actions of the Church to discredit nature worship (I’m sure that Shakespeare knew it), but I shall provide it anyway:

 

“To the Greeks, Pan was a shepherd: he was half goat and half man, a thing of nature certainly not the Antichrist or a being who was out to corrupt and steal men’s souls. He was lusty; he played pipes and was therefore musical; and he was a god of nature. And though much is made in schools and textbooks of the major Olympian gods Zeus and the gang it is clear from archaeological evidence that Pan was the favorite god of the Greek people. “It’s a fact that there are more dedications to him than to any other...” (Pitt-Kethley xi). Perhaps this is what led Christian theologians to demonize Pan; they sensed a powerful competitor for the hearts of the people. This demonization was no accident, but rather a deliberate twisting of pagan ideals as Christianity spread its influence throughout Europe. After the Council of Nicea issued the Nicene Creed and the Roman Catholic Church was established in 325 C.E., Christian theologians (beginning with Eusebius) transformed Pan from a benign nature god to Satan the great Adversary.” 

 

http://www.mesacc.edu/~thoqh49081/StudentPapers/pan.html

 

Sincerely yours,

Marianne Kimura

Associate Professor

Kyoto Women’s University

 

 

 

Irregular Newsletters

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.574  Monday, 28 December 2015

 

From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Monday, December 28, 2015

Subject:    Irregular Newsletters

 

Dear Subscribers,

 

The Newsletters will be distributed irregularly over the next few weeks; but, please, keep the submissions coming. I will get to them as I am able. I am having yet another surgery on my bad right leg/foot on Wednesday and will be editing as I am able.

 

Best wishes to all,

 

Hardy

 

Short Cuts

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.572  Wednesday, 23 December 2015

 

From:        Bo Bergstrom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 22, 2015 at 3:09:30 PM EST

Subject:    Rosemary Hill · Short Cuts · LRB 7 January 2016

 

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/rosemary-hill/short-cuts?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3801&utm_content=usca_subsact&hq_e=el&hq_m=4083502&hq_l=17&hq_v=0000a4066c

 

 

London Review of Books

Vol. 38 No. 1 · 7 January 2016

page 16 | 1248 words

 

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill

 

It is a curious fact of history, which my research on antiquarianism has brought home to me, that if something is believed in or wanted for long enough, it will eventually materialise. From John Aubrey’s passing remark in 1665 that Stonehenge might have been built by druids, through William Stukeley’s obsessively detailed and almost entirely invented account of the druidic religion it took another hundred and fifty years, but in the early 20th century druids appeared at Stonehenge and they have been there ever since. It is often pointed out that there is no continuous tradition connecting ancient and modern druids, and archaeologists have demonstrated, with some impatience, that even if there were such a link, Iron Age druids didn’t build Stonehenge. This makes no difference to events at the solstices nor did it stop the Oxford University Press bookshop from putting up a window display featuring a cardboard model of the stones surrounded by cardboard druids.

 

The wish for a portrait of Shakespeare from life has a similar but shorter history. For centuries the monument in Stratford Church and the Droeshout engraving from the First Folio were the only widely known images. The Shakespeare revival of the 18th century took place in an age of neoclassicism which was content with idealised representations to show what Shakespeare signified rather than what he looked like. Scheemakers’s full-length marble in Poets’ Corner is an image of a national bard. Roubiliac’s version was commissioned by David Garrick, who posed for it himself and while this was certainly vain of him, it was not as vain as it would be today. At a time when the play, rather than the biography, was the thing, Garrick was not unjustified in seeing himself as the embodiment of Shakespeare’s art in his own time.

 

Once the Romantic conception of the artist as an expressive individual took hold, however, the need for a portrait began to be felt. Idealised images were now dismissed as caricatures, the Droeshout as disappointing, ‘narrow, peaked and priggish’ the antiquary John Britton called it, while the Stratford bust was hors de combat, having been whitewashed during the last throes of Enlightenment good taste. The search for the face and the private life of the bard became intense. By 1850 Britton could report that ‘since the commencement of this century, it may be asserted that more has been written and published on the life … of Shakspere, than during the whole of the preceding period between the acting of his first drama and the year 1800.’

 

Katherine Duncan-Jones, in her brilliant, scholarly and concise Portraits of Shakespeare (Bodleian, £14.99), deals with two of the images ‘taken from life’ that duly emerged. One, known as the Flower portrait, was bequeathed to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1895, by which time the RSC had quite a collection of pictures. The provenance of this one went back no further than 1840, and after a century of argument the National Portrait Gallery carried out a technical examination in 2005 which showed that it dates from between 1828 and 1840, which is exactly what might be expected. The other portrait, known as the Chandos, was the first picture the NPG acquired at its foundation in 1856, a ‘vividly informal’ image that conveys ‘a powerful sense of presence’ as Duncan-Jones writes. Although it had been obscure and in private hands since the 17th century, it came with a continuous provenance which further investigation has supported. Only the question of its authorship was troublesome. The identity of ‘Jo: Taylor’ has been subjected to a needle-in-haystack search for a painter called John Taylor. Duncan-Jones, threading her way carefully back through the marginalia of the historian George Vertue into the theatrical networks of Shakespeare’s day has solved the mystery beyond reasonable doubt. Jo: Taylor was Joseph Taylor, a relatively well documented actor.

 

This is a major discovery, but the appearance of Duncan-Jones’s book did not make the national news. Country Life, however, managed that feat when, as Michael Neill discussed in the last issue of the LRB, it devoted its May issue to the horticulturalist Mark Griffiths’s contention that the title page of John Gerard’s Herball of 1598 contained a portrait of Shakespeare. This led to headline variations on the theme of ‘Is This the Face of Shakespeare?’ The short answer appears to be no, though that didn’t prevent the British Society of Magazine Editors from awarding it ‘Scoop of the Year’.

 

The last new portrait to appear before Duncan-Jones wrote her book has acquired even more traction. This is the so-called Cobbe portrait which was presented to the world in 2009 as a painting done from life in about 1610 and recently acquired by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. At the time Duncan-Jones argued in the TLS that this was not only not Shakespeare but was identifiable as Sir Thomas Overbury. The usual uproar ensued. Impartial scrutiny of the historic evidence places the balance heavily on the side of its being Overbury, but this has not stopped the Birthplace Trust from exhibiting the portrait and including it on its website. It is on posters all over Stratford and in her book Duncan-Jones comments through lightly clenched teeth that it is ‘unfortunate’ that it has been embraced ‘so eagerly’ by the tourist board.

 

Last February the Observer illustrated the latest claim to have identified the ‘enigmatic “Mr WH”’ of the Sonnets with the Cobbe portrait, captioned ‘a portrait of Shakespeare’; one shaky hypothesis illustrating another. Also in February the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced financial support for the Shakespeare Trust’s £5.25 million project to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 by creating, at New Place in Stratford, ‘a major new landmark heritage attraction where people can get to the heart of the story of Shakespeare the family man and the writer at the height of his success, in the very place where he lived for the last 19 years of his life’. This is what the Romantics so much wanted to find in the Stratford of the early 19th century. Then, however, there was disappointingly little appearance ‘of anything like antiquity’ in the town. Over the next two hundred years antiquity has been steadily appearing. New Place, the house Shakespeare certainly owned and may have lived in towards the end of his life, was demolished in the 18th century. Its successor was knocked down by the owner, Francis Gastrell, who was annoyed by people constantly asking to see it. That left the house, then a butcher’s shop, in Henley Street which was known to have belonged to Shakespeare’s father and in which he may well have been born. By 1864 it had become The Birthplace, the exact room specified. The Reverend J.M. Jephson, who revisited Stratford that year, was taken aback to find the building ‘so smug and new’ with ‘everything scraped and polished up’, complete with new timbers and more varnish than he thought necessary. The current development of the New Place site, candidly described as a ‘reimagining’, will greatly extend the visitor experience. ‘Great news for … our national and international tourist economy’ and a Romantic dream come true.

 

 

 

Friar Laurence as Satanic Pharisee: Shakespeare’s Acrostic Allusion

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.573  Wednesday, 23 December 2015

 

[1] From:        Chris Whatmore <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         December 21, 2015 at 2:59:18 PM EST

     Subject:    Shakespeare's Acrostics and Anagrams

 

[2] From:        Arnie Perlstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         December 21, 2015 at 3:58:53 PM EST

     Subject:    Friar Laurence as Satanic Pharisee

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Chris Whatmore <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 21, 2015 at 2:59:18 PM EST

Subject:    Shakespeare's Acrostics and Anagrams

 

To William Bellamy and his Verbal Art:

 

Nothing sweet boy, but yet like prayers divine,

I must each day say o'er the very same,

Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,  

Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name.

!

 

Sonnet 108 (as if that mattered)

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Arnie Perlstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 21, 2015 at 3:58:53 PM EST

Subject:    Friar Laurence as Satanic Pharisee

 

In reply to my initial post, Ian Steere wrote: 

 

Does Arnie Perlstein (SHAKSPER, 17 December) have an explanation as to why each of the three authors identified would have wished: (1) to denigrate the Franciscans within the body of his work; and (2) to do so subtly, rather than openly? Provided such explanation makes good sense, Shakespeare's acrostic would (on the evidence offered by Arnie) seem more likely than not intentional. However, the latter inference would also depend on an expectation by the playwright that Romeo & Juliet would be enjoyed by his audience in the form of a book, as well as through the medium of the stage. Is this expectation contradicted by other evidence?

 

Thank you very much for your to-the-point response, Ian. 

 

In response to your first question, I’m sure you’re aware that there was a rich and varied tradition, over a very long period of time, of anti-Franciscan friar depictions in the works of the likes of Spenser, Marlowe, and a number of other authors, and also in the nonfiction texts of the era.  You can find tons of discussion of this tradition in books and scholarly databases. So, there is a rich context for Shakespeare and Milton having apparently played the same game, but under the covers rather than overtly. We know that Shakespeare and Milton read Spenser, Marlowe, and the other authors playing that game, and that Milton knew Shakespeare like the back of his hand, so they’d both obviously have been aware of it. I can’t speak about Brooke, because nothing is known about his life beyond Romeus & Juliet and his death by shipwreck while still very young—but those two touching SATAN acrostics tell us that he really meant for someone to see them—and it turned out that Shakespeare saw them, and then covertly broadcast them to the world, via his universal fame-and now in 2015 that code has finally been publicly translated.

 

As to your question as to (1) Brooke’s motivation for sending an overtly mixed message about Friar Laurence (and Franciscan friars in general) in Romeus and Juliet (this has been discussed by a number of scholars), and (2)  Shakespeare’s motivation for sending a covertly mixed message about Friar Laurence in Romeo & Juliet,  there are all sorts of possible plausible explanations, but the one that appeals to me most is as follows:

 

All of my research on Shakespeare, of which acrostics is only one part among many, has shown me that one of Shakespeare ‘s most fundamental goals as a dramatist, if not the most basic, was to enact the ambiguity and subjectivity of human cognition, and thereby to demonstrate that the world we (think we) see is not the “real world”.  A very Buddhist way of understanding what it is to be human.

 

And Shakespeare understood that he was not going to get that message across via sterile, ineffective, straightforward intellectual argument, so he chose several deeper and more effective paths-- bypassing words and reaching directly and subliminally into his readers’s and audiences’ subconscious minds, and destabilizing our naïve certainties. 

 

And, in the case of the SATAN acrostic, what better way to do this in the case of the character of Friar Laurence, than to give one message via conventional traditional methods of communication, but a second, contradictory one via subliminal channels? This is Holbein’s Ambassadors, onstage and in print!

 

As for the specifics of Shakespeare’s apparent hostility to Franciscan friars, I also don’t have to tell you that there has been huge controversy over centuries, up till the present, as to whether Shakespeare was Catholic and/or a Catholic sympathizer, and, going one step further, whether he was a Jesuit and/or a Jesuit sympathizer. The SATAN acrostic obviously is relevant to all of that.

 

I don’t pretend to give a final explanation based on the SATAN acrostic, and on Shakespeare’s related wordplay pointing to the Gospel of Matthew and to Brooke, as to what it means. But I do claim to have introduced a massive monkey wrench into the gears of the conventional wisdom that Friar Laurence is ultimately a positive character, and into the conventional wisdom that Shakespeare would not have embedded a secret code in his writings, via acrostics. I am hoping that a number of Shakespeare scholars with deep knowledge of the religious controversies of the Elizabethan era will take this seriously, and factor that SATAN acrostic into their thinking.

 

Finally, in answer to your second question about a code that can only be perceived from reading the text of the play rather than seeing the play performed, that is also a very old debate among Shakespeare scholars, and obviously I claim that the existence of acrostics in Shakespeare’s plays tells us that he intended for his plays to be read as well as performed live.

 

Cheers, ARNIE

 

 

 

Henry VIII’s Evidence in Divorce

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.571  Wednesday, 23 December 2015

 

From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Subject:    Henry VIII’s Evidence in Divorce 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/feb/25/henry-viiis-evidence-to-support-break-with-rome-turns-up-in-cornish-library?

 

Henry VIII’s evidence to support break with Rome turns up in Cornish library

 

A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.

 

The book, a summary of the theories of the medieval philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, has been newly identified by a US scholar and expert on the history of Henry’s library. The book was damaged but escaped destruction in a disastrous fire at the house in 1881, and crucially the fly-leaf survived. It still carries the number 282, written in black ink in the top right-hand corner, which Prof James Carley identified as corresponding with an inventory taken in 1542 of the most important of Henry’s books, five years before the king’s death.

 

Paul Holden, the house and collections manager at Lanhydrock, said: “It was an amazing moment. The old long gallery here is about the length of a football pitch, and the professor lapped it about six times when we found the book.”

 

A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.

 

The book, a summary of the theories of the medieval philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, has been newly identified by a US scholar and expert on the history of Henry’s library. The book was damaged but escaped destruction in a disastrous fire at the house in 1881, and crucially the fly-leaf survived. It still carries the number 282, written in black ink in the top right-hand corner, which Prof James Carley identified as corresponding with an inventory taken in 1542 of the most important of Henry’s books, five years before the king’s death.

 

Paul Holden, the house and collections manager at Lanhydrock, said: “It was an amazing moment. The old long gallery here is about the length of a football pitch, and the professor lapped it about six times when we found the book.”

 

nd Holden asked him to look at two volumes with the arms of Henry and Catherine of Aragon. Carley concluded they showed royal loyalty but not royal origins, but suggested it might be worth checking the collection for books from Henry’s library.

 

The two men started taking down every book marked in the Lanhydrock catalogue as older than 1542, and checking them against a copy of Henry’s inventory, and within an hour, when they reached Section C of the shelves, opened the book and saw the neat small number 282.

 

The book will now be displayed for the first time as a star object, rather than one more brown leather book among thousands, in an exhibition, Monarchy and the Book, when the house reopens to the public on 1 March.

 

 

 

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.