The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0271  Friday, 7 October 2011

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

Date:          Friday, October 7, 2011

Subject:      Hiatus


Dear Subscribers,


This is a reminder that I shall be away from computers for a week, October 7 to 14. 


Please keep sending any postings, but be aware that I will not be able to read them before the 14th.


Best wishes, Hardy M. Cook

Editor of SHAKSPER <shaksper.net>  

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (SHAKSPER) 


SBReview_18: Unhistorical Shakespeare: Queer Theory in Shakespearean Literature and Film

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0270 Thursday, 6 October 2011

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

Date:         Thursday, October 6, 2011

Subject:      SBReview_18: Unhistorical Shakespeare: Queer Theory in Shakespearean Literature and Film


            Madhavi Menon.  Unhistorical Shakespeare: Queer Theory in Shakespearean Literature and Film.  New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008.  ISBN-13: 978-0-230-60670-8; xi  + 195 pp.  US$85.00.  


Reviewed by Ryan Singh Paul, Allegheny College


Madhavi Menon (Associate Professor of Literature, American University) is the author of Wanton Words: Rhetoric and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama (UToronto Press, 2004), and the editor of Shakesqueer: A Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare (Duke UP, 2010).  Her second monograph, Unhistorical Shakespeare is an ambitious, theoretically sophisticated work about the study of desire.  Like recent works from “presentist” scholars such as Hugh Grady, Terence Hawkes, and Evelyn Gajowski, Menon seeks to challenge the historicist methods that dominate early modern studies.  Her ultimate goal is to queer the idea of history itself by promoting a fluid, open model of temporality, which she calls “homohistory.”  As such, the book is more significant as a work of methodological inquiry than a study of Shakespeare; her individual readings of Shakespearean texts are often insightful, but her approach to the study of history is what scholars will find both useful and problematic.  


Menon’s introductory “Argument” is, in its scope, the most comprehensive part of the book and thus will be of the greatest scholarly interest.  It is also likely to be the most controversial because of the claims Menon makes about the faults of “heterohistory,” her term for the primary mode of historical scholarship on sexuality.  She argues that most studies of early modern sexuality assume a paradigm of difference between past and present and offers as a spokesperson for this model David Scott Kastan’s Shakespeare after Theory (Routledge, 1999).  Menon highlights Kastan’s stance that the study of the past must begin with the assumption of difference between then and now and that scholars should avoid the “narcissistic” search for elements of the present in Shakespeare.  In other words, Kastan believes that to see Shakespeare as our contemporary is to project ourselves onto the past, committing the dreaded sin of anachronism.  


But according to Menon, this hetero-temporal paradigm fixes lines of difference in accord with chronology: heterohistorians assume the present to be transparent, solidified, and complete, while in contrast the past is viewed as the scene of fluid desire, transient identities, and deviant pleasures.  Here Menon seems to be weighing in on the debate in queer and LGBT studies between models of alterity and continuity, arguing that historicist methodologies by default assume that modern sexual “identities” are absolutely different from early modern “desires.”  The problem, she claims, is that by assuming a distinction between fixed sexual identities in the present and polymorphous sexual desires and acts in the past, heterohistorians (gay and straight alike) reproduce a heteronormative (and thus homophobic) narrative of development and marginalize the complexities of desire in the present by shunting them to the past.  Menon faults heterohistory for ignoring the complex desires that undermine modern distinctions between heterosexual and homosexual and for only seeing sexuality as a fluid continuum when looking at the past.  


In response to the distortions introduced by heterohistoricism, Menon promotes the concept of “homohistory.”  The homohistorian does not reject the idea of history; rather, she withholds judgments about similarity and difference, opening herself to modes of investigation that defy traditional chronologies and put unexpected texts into dialogue in ways that a strictly temporal analysis would not allow.  And rather than taking an identarian stance wherein modern sexual subjects possess recognizable and fixed desires, the homohistorian acknowledges the incoherence of desire in the present just as the heterohistorian locates it in the past.  Menon says that homohistory is not a method; one may think of it instead as a counter-method, a perspective that deconstructs the founding assumptions of the way we “do” history.  As an intervention in the debate between alterity and continuity, Menon seeks to offer a third way that refuses to make a priori assumptions about the relationship between past and present, thus confronting desire in all its fluidity at all times.  


Perhaps because I am sympathetic both to the demands of historicism as well as to the need for a critical evaluation of our methodological assumptions, I wondered, at times, if Menon were arguing against a straw-man: do the current historicist methodologies truly require such a false dichotomy between past and present?  Surely part of the goal of historical study is not to fix difference between past and present but, through the discovery of seeming distinctions, to uncover the contradictions and complexities in the present moment to which we have become blinded?  While Menon’s analysis of historicism’s potential mistakes is thoughtful and provocative, her presentation of it is perhaps unnecessarily polemical.  The assumptions she lays at the feet of heterohistorians are not, it seems to me, unavoidable problems of all historical study but pitfalls that scholars can avoid by careful examination of their assumptions.  In other words, I agree that a rigid insistence that the past is completely alien from the modern world is problematic, but the mere acknowledgement that one should accept, even expect, difference in historical study is not the same thing.  


This points to what I think is the main fault of Menon’s work.  She criticizes heterohistory because its “paradigm of difference only reinforces the belief that difference is what marks a ‘proper’ sexuality” (14).  Yet she is intent throughout the text to assert the difference of her project from what has come before, an irony that results in terminological confusion and at times forecloses on potentially insightful collaboration.  Menon seems not to intend to simply replace a focus on difference with one on similitude, but to promote a study of history that is flexible and fluid in constructing a relationship between past and present.  Her terminology, however, is restrictive, “homohistory” being a prime example: by her own definition, it is not just the study of sameness in the way that she asserts heterohistory is the study of difference, but by adopting oppositional language she risks obscuring the subtleties of her theoretical insights and making her argument appear to be simply the reverse of heterohistoricism.  And again, heterohistoricism is not, I think, identical to historicism itself; to elide the difference between the two is to unfairly undermine an important mode of scholarship and accuse its practitioners of unthinking bias.  


Some of the individual studies in her book are more successful than others at avoiding such problems.  In each of five chapters, Menon marshals an eclectic collection of texts – theoretical, popular, and Shakespearean – to identify the contradictions, unstated anachronisms, and heteronormative biases of heterohistory’s foundational components: teleology, facts, citation, origins, and authenticity.  I found chapter 4, on origins and originality, to be the most convincing.  In it, Menon reads Titus Andronicus as a text that argues against the primacy of sources.  The play wears its classical lineage on its sleeve, yet, as she points out, the references that appear to provide the framework within which both characters and audience can make sense of the play prove inadequate, even irrelevant.  In a play on Harold Bloom’s “anxiety of influence,” Menon argues that Shakespeare’s “suspicion of causal certainty” (111) queers the directionality of inspiration.  For example, Ovid’s story of Philomela “marks the textual and physical parameters within which we must read Lavinia,” yet it “never tells us anything about desire itself. . . . Shakespeare’s repetition of Ovid turns out to be in excess of its origin” (96, 101-102).  As an argument about historicist methods, Menon makes the case that a text’s sources do not always provide a useful interpretive framework: a text may not only rebel against its apparent “origins” but sever itself completely from them.  She provokes us to think about how heterohistorical analysis may desire for a too neat temporal progression that reduces textual intercourse to a one-way street.  


Other chapters offer useful insights as well, each appropriating Shakespeare as a theorist intent on challenging heterohistory.  Chapter 2, on facts in Cymbeline, is particularly incisive in uncovering the epistemological privilege granted to the fact: a unit of meaning taken for granted as “true,” the fact creates the very framework that gives it meaning.  The final chapter on authenticity and the popular film Shakespeare in Love also points out the heterohistorical biases present in some scholarly responses to the film.  According to Menon, Shakespeareans criticized the film for its lack of “authenticity” in presenting Shakespeare as unproblematically heterosexual, but, she argues, the film problematizes “hetero sex by linking it to the flexibility of homo texts” (128).  That is, the heterosexual romance at the heart of the narrative is marked by misrecognition and is ultimately unreproductive, and it is fundamentally implicated in historical anachronism, the muddling of historical and textual facts, and other chronological and historical “lies.” She says that although the Shakespeare of the film is heterosexual, he is not heteronormative.  


On the other hand, I thought her third chapter, on citation, was the most problematic because of its partisan logic.  The chapter has many strong points, including an insightful analysis of the distinction between citation and quotation and a brilliant reading of the ambiguity of names and naming in Much Ado About Nothing.  But the connections between these two parts are obscured as her critique of citation slides without comment into one on the concept of naming altogether.  Citation may be a form of naming, but names do not always equate to citations.  In addition, her reading of citation/quotation is one-sided; she argues that “citation always needs [quote] marks to mark the quotation as a hygienic unit whose constitutive anachronism and inappropriate desires are glossed over by its citational apparatus” (79).  Yet quote marks also can foreground anachronism by making visible something taken out of its time.  As much as they may enable the setting off of an original authority from which teleological progression has derived, citations and quotations also can enable the sorts of transhistorical “constellations” and conversations that she says are an essential part of homohistory.  In other words, Menon claims that the quote mark embodies a certain meaning in itself, rather than challenging the way the apparatus is used to either contain or free desire.  By constructing an ontological distinction between the heterohistorical citation and the homohistorical insistence on “not naming our sources” (93), Menon obfuscates what seems to be the main goal of the chapter: finding a way out of the debate over “proper” sexual terminology by confronting desire’s resistance to being named.  


Additionally, the endgame of her analysis is at times unclear.  For example, the Bollywood films she examines in chapter 3 as examples of homohistorical anti-citation are not the most interesting objects of study, at least in my opinion, and I question what lasting import her argument here will have for Shakespeare studies.  A more significant example of the obscurity of Menon’s theories comes in the first chapter, where she reads Venus and Adonis as a text against teleology.  According to her summary, heterohistoricist scholars read the narrative’s avoidance of sexual consummation as either a) a sign of Shakespeare’s still developing skills (thus a stop on the teleological path towards becoming “the Bard”), or b) a sign of the difference between the fluid perversity of early modern desire and the fixed productivity of modern sexuality.  Menon’s reading recuperates the poem as a challenge to the teleological assumption of sex as the only “successful” end to erotic desire: the poem is neither an example of young Will’s untutored pen nor a remnant of an alien past but a sophisticated, transhistorical theory of sexuality.  Her reading is sophisticated and provocative, but her criticism of other scholarship on the poem because it “fails to fail” is mystifying (49).  She suggests that homohistory provides an “alternative to teleology . . . the study of failure” (50), yet one does not escape a teleological framework by studying failure.  The concept of failure necessarily implies that of success, and if we conceive of, even valorize, an “end” as a failure, there must be one that is a “success.”  Instead of deconstructing teleology and moving beyond concepts like success and failure, Menon adopts an anti-teleological stance that remains within the heterohistorical model.  


Despite these problems, for the most part Menon brings together diverse sources quite effectively, and she uncovers provocative theoretical implications in Shakespeare’s works.  Menon’s novel approach to history merits attention not only from those interested in the study of desire and sexuality but also from all scholars interested in “the past.”  This is not because she overthrows historicism as a method or because it offers us a new model of early modern sexuality; if such were her intentions, I think she does neither.  Rather, readers who can get past Menon’s sometimes polemical tone will find a call to methodological self-examination that, despite overreaching in its claims, can be a useful reminder of the need for thoughtful evaluation of scholarly assumptions.  While many will disagree, perhaps vehemently, with Menon’s assertions, I think that articulating such disagreements is a productive exercise.  

SBReview_17: Shakespeare and Impure Aesthetics

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0269  Thursday, 6 October 2011


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

Date:         Thursday, October 6, 2011

Subject:      SBReview_17: Hugh Grady’s Shakespeare and Impure Aesthetics




Hugh Grady, Shakespeare and Impure Aesthetics.   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.   ix-261pp.   $102.  ISBN 978-0-521-51475-0.


Reviewed by Alison Findlay, Professor of Renaissance Drama, Lancaster University (UK)


This book has a dual aim: it offers new perspectives on four Shakespearean plays, and, more importantly, it makes a sustained argument for a new direction in Shakespearean criticism via “impure aesthetics.” Grady is as much concerned with theoretical and philosophical approaches as he is with the Shakespeare texts, re-reading a dazzling range of critical writing from German and British Romanticism, Kant, Hegel, Lukács, Benjamin, Ariès, Derrida, to work by Shakespeareans like Wilson-Knight, Jan Kott, Stephen Greenblatt, Coppelia Kahn, Margaret Ferguson, Susan Zimmerman, and the more recent “ecocritical” and “presentist” approaches.   One great strength of the book is the way it situates its own approach within a broad critical tradition and, at the same time, brilliantly re-focuses our attention on close reading, including, at one point, a powerful argument against an editorial tradition of emendation dating back centuries.     


Grady’s goal is to move on from the anti-aesthetic bias of politicised new historicist criticism of the last twenty-five years which has suffered “not from a weakness of commission, but one of omission” (65).   Simultaneously, the book seeks to re-invigorate our appreciation of modernist examples of aesthetic theory.   Readers may take issue with Grady’s definition of the aesthetic emerging “in a capitalist and post-mythological” and secular culture (91) as one which fails to take account of the complex ways in which capitalism co-exists with, appropriates and recycles religious and mythological discourse.   However, the discussions of Shakespeare’s texts tease out a rich hybridity of intersecting discourses that demonstrate more elasticity than is suggested by the broad starting points.   The opening chapter’s job is to patiently trace a history of aesthetics from “pure” and “impure” aesthetics in Kant and Schiller, the way in which Hegel proposed a historically contingent definition of aesthetics, and how Marx’s other priorities meant he did not develop a systematic theory of aesthetics, leaving the next major developments to Lukács, Benjamin, and Adorno.   The chapter clearly explains the book’s own rationale for understanding aesthetics in social terms as “intrinsically ‘impure,’” a “place-holder for what is repressed elsewhere in the system.” Aesthetics for Grady is an “autonomous practice” that nevertheless participates in social and economic processes in both communities and private, individual experiences.   Intellectual curiosity is excited by a further paradox in the aesthetic, which is defined as simultaneously linked to creativity and death.   


Shakespeare’s proto-aestheticism is seen most clearly in Dream and Grady’s first case study puts in practice his determination to pursue “ideology-critique and aesthetic analysis simultaneously” (54).   He summarises earlier feminist and historicist concerns with Elizabethan royalist politics, ideologies relating to gender, sexuality and hierarchy, as “impurities” which inevitably complicate any reading of the play’s aesthetics.   This revisits some familiar critical territory from a new perspective.   The forest is simultaneously utopia and dystopia “an idealized but momentarily disturbed aesthetic realm” and “a jungle of dangerous sexual desire” (76).   The play’s Ovidian or supernatural figures are aesthetic images which evoke a “privileged desired, but non-existing harmony between the human and natural worlds” (63).   Opposite these, Bottom and the mechanicals testify to the usefulness of the ugly as a means which, according to Adorno, violates and confirms aesthetic unity.  Although, initially, this sounds like a re-working of the subversion-containment model, Grady seeks to identify something more subtle and unstable: a “dynamic tension” (82) which animates the artwork.  The text’s ability to re-produce within itself aspects of nature which surpass rational conceptual thought and ideology are, Grady argues, foregrounded in the motif of the dream “as a surrogate for the unnamed concept of the aesthetic” (77).  Grady thus offers us a new way of understanding the play’s self-conscious artifice which “presciently constructs a modern concept of the aesthetic” (88) constantly fissured by the text’s concerns with dissonant politicised elements.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream is, thus, he argues, “Shakespeare’s paean to, and anatomy of, impure aesthetics” (89)


The second case study of Shakespeare and Middleton’s Timon of Athens is perhaps the strongest in the book.  Concentrating on the aesthetic as a modern concept that emerged from capitalist and post-mythological, post-religious culture, Grady reads Timon as a “thought-experiment” that interrogates the relationship of art to commodity production, monetary and aesthetic value, patronage, and, most interestingly, usury.  A highly persuasive close reading of the conversation between the Poet, Painter, Jeweller, and Merchant argues that the staged debates in this opening scene prefigure the twentieth-century aesthetic theories of Benjamin and Adorno over the relation between the two kinds of value associated with an artwork: its status as a commodity and its non-use value as an artwork.  Particularly striking is Grady’s groundbreaking analysis of the poet’s obscure definition of his own craft:


Our poesy is as a gown which uses

From whence t‘is nourished.  The fire i’th’ flint

Shows not till it be struck.



Grady points out that the Poet’s earlier line about the world “It wares sir, as it grows” (1.1.3) suggests that “uses” can be similarly construed to mean either use up or to “‘grow’ in terms of a usurious loan’s self growth” (109).  Poetry, according to this interpretation, is a sort of “interest-bearing loan” which has a kind of monetary value, in gaining value of itself.  Grady’s incisive reading of the obscure Folio lines provides editors and critics alike with a far superior alternative to the emendations made by editors since Pope and Johnson who have altered the definition of poetry to “a gum which oozes / From whence 'tis nourished” (  108).  Grady traces Timon’s journey from misanthropy to suicide as an aesthetic act, arguing that the play achieves a remarkable balancing act between recognising the efficacy of pragmatic politics, and the need for art to “encompass a fuller vision of human reality and possibility” (128).  Possibility is a key word for the book itself.  Grady’s analysis makes suggestive reference across to Merchant of Venice and complements Don Hedrick’s work on the commodity values of commercial plays.  It is characteristic of the book’s generosity that its models of analysis are accompanied throughout by suggestions for further research.  Hugh Grady’s own paper on Antony and Cleopatra at this year’s World Shakespeare Congress demonstrated how, in one way, this book’s innovative outline of “impure aesthetics” in practice is just the beginning.


Part Two of the book, on the aesthetics of death and mourning, begins by reading Hamlet as a trauerspiel, an approach inspired by Benjamin’s 1928 book The Origins of German Tragic Drama.  Grady unpacks Benjamin’s work in depth as “both formalist and historicist – with a strong “presentist” dimension as well” (153), explaining trauerspiel as a dramatic form of tragedy that was distinctly different from Greek tragedy and linked closely to the baroque.  Hamlet is read as a play of mourning that is both early modern, modern and postmodern in its dramatisation of a profound split between subject and object and the search for meaning in a world where “the conventions of a linguistic structure” using signifiers or symbols which gesture towards a real that they can never represent (146).  Dislocation is signified explicitly in the baroque on-stage performance of “The Mousetrap” and in Ophelia’s madness as an aestheticizing of mourning.  The ghost figures the lost world of immanent meaning, idealised in the recognition of its absence and Hamlet’s mourning structures the aesthetic space of the play.   Grady writes interestingly on the connected images, stage effects and props as a “chain of deferrals or substitutions” (160), the skull being the most significant of these.  In spite of the play’s preoccupation with mortality, loss, and mourning, and the succession (with Hamlet’s approval) of the pragmatic Fortinbras, Hamlet’s unquenchable desire that “the immanent world might somehow be restored” (187) gives the conclusion a redemptive quality figured in the image of his transcendence with the angels.  


The book’s celebration of impure aesthetics in Shakespeare reaches its climax, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, in a final chapter on Romeo and Juliet, which Grady argues is “a nearly unique synthesis of comedy and Trauerspiel” (221)While carefully charting previous work by Kristeva, Dollimore, and De Rougement on Liebestod, the connection of love and death in the play, Grady focuses (following Dollimore) on loss as the factor that “creates a kind of mourning within the audience, creative of a sense of beauty and longing” (204).  The play’s tendency towards comedy is evidenced in the possibilities it offers for civic and communal renewal, he argues, before concentrating on its technique of aesthetic heightening at moments of loss like Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech, the balcony scene, Juliet’s soliloquy of sexual anticipation “gallop apace you fiery footed steeds,” and the tomb scene.  Although the social and the natural are diametrically opposed through the play, in such moments, the mediation of art succeeds in bringing them briefly together.  By playing out fantasies of what might (nearly) have been, the text thus evokes a complex emotional state “divided between mourning and a sense of fulfillment” for spectators or readers, Grady argues (218).  


Grady’s powerful advocacy of a return to aesthetics, and his re-reading of modernist aesthetics as hospitable to the “impurities” of the texts’ political and ideological engagements will make a telling impact on the future direction of Shakespeare criticism.  The intelligent readings are brimming over with possibilities.  If I have a criticism, it is that the book is not long enough to realise all these, but I look forward to reading more by Hugh Grady, and others inspired by this manifesto to use ‘impure aesthetics” to read Shakespeare.   


Thomas of Woodstock

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0268  Thursday, 6 October 2011

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

Date:         October 6, 2011 1:57:14 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Query; Queen; H5; Ant Passage; Woodstock


Gabriel Egan says:


"According to the (admittedly incomplete) Modern Language Association International Bibliography (MLA-IB) Michael Egan has published no articles on the subject of Thomas of Woodstock, and indeed no articles at all (according to MLA-IB, you understand) since 1984."


In fairness to Michael Egan, I should point out that he has published several articles, including some on Woodstock, in The Oxfordian, the organ of the Oxford-Shakespeare Society. The Woodstock articles are cited and discussed in my opinion.  Egan is the editor-in-chief of The Oxfordian, which perhaps is not in the MLA-IB database.


Henry V Finding

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0267  Thursday, 6 October 2011

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

Date:         October 5, 2011 11:11:18 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Query; Queen; H5; Ant Passage; Woodstock


Mark Alcamo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes,


>Here is the same dialogue from the First Folio [Scene 4.1] :


>Bates: He hath not told his thought to the King? 


>King: No: nor it is not meet he should: for though I 

>speake it to you, I thinke the King is but a man, as I am: 

>the Violet smells to him, as it doth to me; the Element 

>shewes to him, as it doth to me; all his Sences haue but 

>humane Conditions: his Ceremonies layd by, in his

>Nakednesse he appeares but a man; and though his 

>affections are higher mounted then ours, yet when they 

>stoupe, they stoupe with the like wing: therefore, when he 

>sees reason of feares, as we doe; his feares, out of doubt, be 

>of the same rellish as ours are: yet in reason, no man should 

>possesse him with any appearance of feare; least hee, by 

>shewing it, should dishearten his Army. 


>Bates: He may shew what outward courage he will: [etcetera]


>Focusing on the King's Speech, everything looks copacetic.  The King 

>is given a 'sympathetic' speech: he looks witty and sounds humble: 


>… for though I 

>speake it to you, I thinke the King is but a man ...


>But allow me just the slightest employ of wordplay, in Bold :


>… for though I 

>speake it to you, I thinke the King is butt a man, ass I am: 

>the Violent smells to him, as it doth to me; the Element 

>shewes to him, as it doth to me; all his Sences haue butt 

>humane Conditions: his Ceremonies layd by, /in his Nakednesse/

>he appeares butt a man; and though /his affections/

>are higher mounted then ours, yet when /they stoupe,/ 

>/they stoupe with the like wing:/ therefore, when he sees 

>reason of feares, as we doe; his feares, out of doubt, be of 

>/the same rellish/ as ours are:  [etcetera]  [my /italics/ for emphasis]


>Evidently, some cliche bodily responses to fear have stood the test of time.

> (Etymological-wordplay-wise, you can't quite play stoup and poop

>together, but image-wise, it clearly fits.)


>IF this were the Blazing Saddles campfire scene, it'd be in character, yet 

>while Classic bawdy Shakespeare, it is transparently and unobtrusively 

>tucked into the speech with just the slightest of wordplays.  And rather 

>than show the King in a sympathetic light, the speech now begs us to feel

>sympathy for him, given he's clearly unconscious of the abuse he's been 

>subjected to at the hand of his Playwright.  And once more, I honestly 

>don't think the Elizabethan upper crust would guffaw much at this image 

>of the highly esteemed Henry V airing his underwear for Public display.


Extremely improbable, both because "poop" in the sense you want is not attested in the OED until 1889, and because, given the already established context of falconry ("higher mounted"), "stoop" is so ordinary a word as to make so obscure and forced a pun unworkable.


John W Kennedy

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