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HD: More Shakespeare Mythbusting
Posted: 26 October 2011 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Did you see my Marche link above, aldi?

This line got me in the Marche article:

Although I might add that the Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” managed to be pretty good with only a handful of tiny anachronisms.

Now, I really enjoyed Shakespeare in Love. I thought it was a brilliant comedy. And the playing around with history in that film was perfectly fine because no one was pretending that it was factual. But to say the film had “only a handful of tiny anachronisms” is just laughable and really calls into doubt Marche’s credibility. Although overall I didn’t see much to quibble with in this Marche article.

But this one is another case. Here is Syme taking on Marche as a Shakespeare scholar. (It’s fun to see a current U of T professor rip into a former student; although Syme, a recent arrival here at Toronto, was not one of Marche’s professors.)

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Posted: 26 October 2011 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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languagehat - 26 October 2011 06:02 AM

Did you see my Marche link above, aldi?

D’oh! Sorry, I completely mantled you there. Marche seems a little concerned that the film will sow confusion where there is none (I see the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is up in arms too). But it’s only a movie, it’ll be totally forgotten soon, Shakespeare will still be there. I do remember Marche’s book and it was, as the prof in Dave’s link wrote, profoundly stupid in some of its assertions.  And I enjoyed Shakespeare in Love, despite its many anachronisms (it’s difficult to miss them if you know the period at all). Still, willing suspension of disbelief and all that.

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Posted: 27 October 2011 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Here is Syme taking on Marche as a Shakespeare scholar.

Ouch!  Now I’m sorry I linked his piece.  Sounds like a complete idiot.

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Posted: 13 November 2011 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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It is sad we can never establish if Shakespeare coined any new words. One seems to need an expression, but even in that case ‘mind’s eye’ might have been lifted from the vernacular or elsewhere unlike “The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”

It seems likely Shakespeare was a pal of Marlowe and he certainly acknowledged his influence: Marlowe’s line in Hero and Leander was used in As You Like It (’Dead Shepherd, now I find thy saw of might, “Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?“‘).

Thirty years ago I remember reading a book by someone who reckoned Marlowe wrote Shakespeare’s works and he had loads of examples of similarities in their versifying. All I could find online was:

Marlowe’s Tamburlaine:
Holla, ye pampered Jades of Asia.
What, can ye draw but twenty miles a day....

Shakespeare’s Henry IV (Part II):
And hollow pampered jades of Asia,
Which cannot go but thirty miles a day.

Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus (conjuring Helen of Troy):
Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?

Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (referring to Helen of Troy):
... She is a pearl,
Whose price hath launched above a thousand ships.

I count religion but a childish toy, And hold there is no sin but ignorance.
(The Jew of Malta)

I say there is no darkness but ignorance.
(Twelfth Night)

Weep not for Mortimer
That scorns the world, and, as a traveller
Goes to discover countries yet unknown.
(Edward II)

The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns.
(Hamlet)

A bit tenuous. I am not suggesting M was S but in those days plagiarism and embellishment weren’t sins, as with Shakespeare’s use of other sources like Hollinshead, etc.

‘Nice line, Kit! I’ll use that now you’re dead.’ Nor was Shakespeare writing for posterity, just ackers, though his fellow poets might have appreciated any allusions if any were detected.

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Posted: 13 November 2011 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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It seems likely Shakespeare was a pal of Marlowe

“Pal” is a bit strong. They undoubtedly knew one another and saw each other’s plays—the Elizabethan theater community was small. But we really have no idea what their relationship was actually like.

Their styles are actually quite different. You would never read a Marlowe play and mistake it for Shakespeare, and vice versa. Yes, Bill poached some good lines from Chris, but just goes along with the idea that great artists steal.

Marlowe is mainly a “what might have been” character. His oeuvre is small, only five plays (no comedies) plus his poetry. But he achieved success faster than Shakespeare (they were the same age) and his work is better than Shakespeare’s of the same date. Had he lived, he might have been a greater playwright than Bill.

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Posted: 13 November 2011 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Yes, it’s unlikely they would have been close. Marlowe was one of the University Wits, the generation of playwrights before Shakespeare who were all university men, people like Peele, Lyly, Kyd, Greene and Marlowe himself. Robert Greene published a famous attack on Shakespeare in his last pamphlet, Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance

Is it not strange that I, to whom they al haue beene beholding: is it not like that you, to whome they all haue beene beholding, shall (were yee in that case that I am now) bee both at once of them forsaken? Yes, trust them not: for there is an vpstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Iohannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.

O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide is from I Henry VI so there’s little doubt at whom Greene is aiming his barbs, even if the pun did not make it obvious. There’s no evidence at all that Marlowe shared this rancour.

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Posted: 13 November 2011 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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From Marche’s piece:
“First they came for the Kennedy scholars, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Kennedy scholar. Then they came for Opus Dei, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Catholic scholar. Now they have come for me. “

Tidy.

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Posted: 16 November 2011 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Kit vs Will. It could have been the greatest literary rivalry ever maybe with collaborations. It was pretty dumb of me to suggest they were pals. No one knows. Marlowe shared rooms with Thomas Kyd and was arrested and charged with tobacco, atheism and boys as I recall (probably just atheism), maybe spying too. I remember reading a letter which I found here that Kyd wrote where he used the word “atheism” and such an early usage surprised me (1580-90 first used in print it says online - OED?).

Transcript of notes written by Thomas Kyd, apparently in response to a demand that he tell what he
knows of Marlowe’s wrongdoings. It almost certainly reflects the things he would have said about
Marlowe when interrogated in May 1593. Since it refers to Marlowe as being dead, it was written
after 30 May 1593…

(Then, in 1593, Marlowe was arrested after his former roommate, the playwright Thomas Kyd, told the authorities
that a forbidden treatise found in his study by the religious thought police belonged to Marlowe...)

says marloweshakespeare.org where I found the above. Extraordinary the extent to which spelling hadn’t been standardised back then. We forget this from modern editions of Shakespeare, etc.

I once wrote an essay on “‘There is no more Christian document in English literature than Dr Faustus.’ Discuss”. Ironic. As it survives (Dr Faustus not my essay!) it is badly mangled with slapstick insertions by inferior writers who included anti-papist sentiments.

It’d be great if Kyd’s early version of Hamlet turned up. Its existence is speculative and novelists have speculated about this pair. Anthony Burgess wrote Nothing Like The Sun and Dead Man in Deptford. In Will Shakespeare I think John Mortimer had Kit luring the bumpkin Will into writing stuff for him with promises of fame so Kit could engage in carousing and debauchery. There must be other novels along these lines. I thought the film Shakespeare In Love was a great irreverent romp. 
There’s a biography of Marlowe I haven’t read called The Reckoning, the title also referring to the archaic but original calculation meaning and the fact that Marlowe was stabbed in the eye and killed in an argument allegedly over the bill (reckoning) in a tavern in Deptford. Now it has spiritual baggage along with the evaluation of Marlowe’s life and achievements sense. Nice title.

[ Edited: 16 November 2011 06:47 AM by venomousbede ]
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Posted: 16 November 2011 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Maybe a bit off topic, but in Dutch a bill is still called a ‘rekening’. It is also used in a more figurative sense in phrases like een rekening vereffenen (evening a score) en kind van de rekening (getting the short end of the stick, lit. “the child of the bill”. In this expression ‘child’ is probably to be understood as ‘the fool’).

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Posted: 16 November 2011 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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VB, if you have any interest in Marlowe or his times, you should get hold of a copy of The Reckoning without delay. Great book.

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Posted: 17 November 2011 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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I will do, SL. I read an article or maybe a review by Nicholl where he said he had been planning a novel about Marlowe but abandoned the idea when Dead Man In Deptford was published, realising it was unmatchable.
There is also the last novel in Burgess’s funny Enderby tetralogy, Enderby’s Dark Lady, about a musical in Indiana about Will’s life Enderby is commissioned to write the book for. I remember the songwriter suggests ‘To be or not to be in love with you’ to an appalled Enderby whilst strumming a guitar. Enderby was imagining poetic period lyrics accompanied by instruments like sackbutts and the viol de gamboys.
Interesting, Dutchtoo. It sounds so much more evocative to my ears than the bill and should be revived in its English form I reckon!
Day of reckoning is used for the last judgement I believe which may be also the Rapture, not sure.

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Posted: 17 November 2011 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I second Syntinen’s recommendation. The Reckoning is a terrific read, the author’s scholarship can’t be faulted. All in all one of the best and most entertaining books on the period that I’ve read.

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Posted: 18 November 2011 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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?

Dutchtoo - 24 October 2011 05:55 AM

Just yesterday I heard Stephen Fry (thanks to the wonders of cable TV) claim that Shakespeare has contributed some 3,000 words to the English language. How should we interpret that?

Perhaps someone went through the Oxford English Dictionary and found that Shakespeare has the earliest citation for 3,000 words? But the OED editors like famous authors and probably have all of Shakespeare’s stuff indexed. When the guy who coins a word is some anonymous Joe, that goes unrecorded.

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