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TOPIC: What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene)

What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #902

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Oh yes, Aristotle is where Hamlet, the university student, got his material about the senses

Unless I am much mistaken (and I ain't likely to be) Hamlet was written by Shakespeare, and Shakespeare did not read Aristotle!

Knowledge of Aristotle's texts came through the distortion of Medieval Interpreters and the first 'translations' of the 'original' didn't arrive in England until after Shakespeare's period of active work.

It is one of the blinder spots in the average Shakespeare Teacher's sight.

It leads to a lot of nonsense about tragic flaws too.
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #903

Harold Jenkins, in the Arden 2, ascribes the passage to "Aristotelian maxim."

You do not, of course, know what Shakespeare read. Nobody does. The only things which can be decisively ruled out, are things known only after Shakespeare's time, so that they could not have been written down in his time. Aristotle was well known long before Shakespeare.

The Hamlet passage is not a translation of any of Aristotle's own writing. It plays, whimsically, on concepts from Aristotle. Aristotelian concepts can be known by somebody who has not read Aristotle, the same as ideas about relativity can be known by people who have not read translations of Einstein's own writings. Such things become common knowledge, a part of culture.

As best I'm aware, Aristotle was studied at Cambridge and Oxford in Elizabethan days. Do you have reason to say otherwise?

Holinshed's Chronicles, a known source for Shakespeare, mentions Aristotle as follows, in material written by William Harrison:

-=-=-
"Some say that our great number of laws do breed a general negligence and contempt of all good order, because we have so many that no subject can live without the transgression of some of them, and that the often alteration of our ordinances doth much harm in this respect, which (after Aristotle) doth seem to carry some reason withal, for (as Cornelius Gallus hath) "Eventus varios res. nova semper habet." 1 [Footnote 1: "An innovation has always mixed effects."]
=-=-=

Are you trying to argue that Harrison couldn't really have known about Aristotle, in 1577, to mention him?

What translations do you mean? Books? Elizabethan England was still very much a manuscript culture. Looking only at published books proves very little about what information was available in written form in those days. There are many cases where manuscript circulation is at least implied before publication in book form. (Shakespeare's Sonnets would be a prime example.)

What do your last two sentences mean? Please expand, or rephrase, on what you're trying to express.
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #909

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You do not, of course, know what Shakespeare read.

I do know he read Montaigne: There is, after all, a copy of the book with his signature on the flyleaf.

I know he read Ovid, in translation. I also know what was common on the school curriculum of his time.

I do know of a number of other books he certainly read/knew - from quotes in his plays and similarities which are unaccountable otherwise.

I don't know he read Aristotle - much referred to (like Shakespeare) but little read and little understood.

I did indicate that some knowledge of the Ancient Greeks had filtered through - the reference to medieval scholarship was in my post.

You, perhaps, haven't read this:

http://www.jsu.edu/depart/english/gates/shtragcv.htm
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #912

I do know he read Montaigne: There is, after all, a copy of the book with his signature on the flyleaf.

There is no such thing.

The "Shakespeare signatures" include:

One on a 1612 deposition.
Two on a Blackfriar's mortgage and deed.
Three on his will.

That's it, for the ones which have been generally accepted as credible.

It has been alleged, by a small minority, that there's a Shakespeare autograph on a copy of "Archaionomia" (a treatise on Anglo-Saxon law by William Lambarde) in the possession of the Folger Library. The faint and only partially legible name written on the book has been known since 1942, but has never been generally accepted as written by Shakespeare. In photographic reproductions I have seen, only the first three letters of a surname are legible, so it could be any number of names beginning "Sha-," and could have been written by anybody.

There is no Montaigne signature by Shakespeare, unless you have it in your closet and wrote it yourself.

The Folger Library does possess a copy of Florio's translation of Montaigne with a FORGED Shakespeare signature, if that's what you're thinking of.

You will also find it argued by some that he read Montaigne in the French. The generally-accepted idea that he read the English translation by Florio is a reasonable conclusion, it is not factual knowledge.
I know he read Ovid, in translation.

You do not, in fact, know that. You're aware that Ovid is credibly a source for some of his writing. So, you conclude that. A logical conclusion is not the same as factual knowledge. If you want to get fussy about things.
I also know what was common on the school curriculum of his time.

So what?
I do know of a number of other books he certainly read/knew - from quotes in his plays and similarities which are unaccountable otherwise.

You do not, in fact, know what he read. You know of some reasonable conclusions about what he probably read, and that's all you know.
I don't know he read Aristotle ...

Right, we agree.
You, perhaps, haven't read this: ...

Why should I? Make a better effort to be communicative, please. From what I've seen so far, it appears unlikely you could refer me to anything relevant to these Hamlet threads.
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #916

Don't forget...these are discussion forms and therefore meant for discussion on a civil level. HLAS and other Shakespeare foums have deteriorated into insults and flaming, which will not be tolerated here.
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #917

Hammersmith's article above claims that the works of Aristotle didn't make it to England untail after Shakespeare's death (taken from James Hutton's introduction in his edition of Poetics). This is further "supported" by the fact that earlier critics (quite familiar with the classics) said his plays would have been better had he read Aristotle.
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #918

Willedever wrote:
The Folger Library does possess a copy of Florio's translation of Montaigne with a FORGED Shakespeare signature, if that's what you're thinking of.

Yes, this copy is generally accepted as being a forgery...
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #921

shakespeare wrote:
Hammersmith's article above claims that the works of Aristotle didn't make it to England untail after Shakespeare's death (taken from James Hutton's introduction in his edition of Poetics). This is further "supported" by the fact that earlier critics (quite familiar with the classics) said his plays would have been better had he read Aristotle.

The article misstates the case. What the article tries to state as fact is only assumption. The first appearance of Artistotle in England, in some form, is as unknown as the first performance of Hamlet, in some form, is unknown.

The article discusses Greek tragedy from a certain point of view, and has essentially nothing to do with what I mentioned earlier. The "tragic flaw" bit is an old misinterpretation of Hamlet, originating with persons who weren't able to read the play, but who did know some schoolbook ideas about tragedy.

And everybody who isn't Shakespeare thinks he could write better, somehow. It's funny. :D
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #922

I edited the thread title, the first post subject, to identify that it's mostly about the Closet Scene.
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What happens in Hamlet (mostly Closet Scene) 7 years 3 months ago #923

Also about the senses, the ceremony of "extreme unction" that was referenced by the Ghost when it spoke to Hamlet, includes annointment of the senses, that is, the eyes, ears, etc. This is according to the standard Roman Catholic ceremony, the Rituale Romanum. Some Catholic allusion, of a whimsical nature, might be intended in the Closet Scene, where Hamlet mentions eyes, ears, etc. The reason for supposing some such allusion is simply because the Ghost, who mentioned the subject, enters in the Closet Scene. It therefore becomes plausible to consider. Also, Polonius being an obvious candidate for last rites, in addition.

It could be taken that although the "sense" reference is primarily from Aristotle, there's a little nod to Catholic ritual as well. It's clear enough in Hamlet, here and there, that the Author wasn't afraid to mix his allusions, when they concerned the same idea, in some way.

This shouldn't be seen as a hidden hint that the Bard was Catholic. One doesn't have to be Catholic to know about annointment of the senses. I know about it, and I'm not Catholic (although I've been tempted sometimes, because, luv those silly hats! :D ) If any Catholic suggestion is intended, about the senses, in the Closet Scene, it's obviously more likely satire than devotion.
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