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TOPIC: Protean Pre-echoes?

Protean Pre-echoes? 8 years 4 months ago #2068

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(Been Blogging Again)

Look at this:

O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away.

(I, 2)

And ‘compare’ it to this, Summer’s Day:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd,


(Sonnet 18 )

I bet you know the second, but the first?

Both Shakespeare, both written in his early career – one a sonnet, the other from The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

I’m reminded of what Brook said about how Shakespeare had a memory – and used everything that came his way. My only question is which came first – the play or the sonnet?

A couple more:

O, but I love his lady too too much,
And that's the reason I love him so little.
How shall I dote on her with more advice,

(II, 4)

And, Friar Laurence to Romeo:

And art thou chang'd? Pronounce this sentence then:
Women may fall, when there's no strength in men.
ROM.
Thou chidst me oft for loving Rosaline.
FRI. L.
For doting, not for loving, pupil mine.

(Romeo and Juliet, II, 3)

And –

Yet (Spaniel like) the more she spurnes my loue,
The more it growes, and fawneth on her still;

(IV, 2)

with -

And even for that do I love you the more;
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.
Use me but as your spaniel; spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worser place can I beg in your love
(And yet a place of high respect with me)
Than to be used as you use your dog?

( A Midsummer Nights Dream, II, 1)


What is it that is going on here? Is Shakespeare just recycling a good idea – like the costumes and props of the Theatre Company? Or is it something else?

One thing I think worth mentioning at this point is that I ‘heard’ these connections when watching the BBC production – they are not the product of reading the play closely or searching – although I have since ‘confirmed’ by digging them out (and am in the process of a read through).

They are memorable images in terms of sound.

Shakespeare’s audience, much more tuned than I am to listening, must also have picked out connections – maybe not for the Sonnet, which circulated in writing privately, but for the other plays – and several other instances I could quote.

What Shakespeare seems to be doing here is ‘hyper-texting’ – downright naughty of him so early in the history of the internet. These links do precisely what the little under-linings in this blog do – make you leap across a world of experiences to a specific point.

However, if ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ is the first play, then this implies something very interesting: It is a foundation other plays build on. The other plays are referencing this play.

Even if it isn’t the actual ‘first’, it is certainly early, so part of the foundations of the whole Shakespeare Experience.

This is recognized in the Oxford Shakespeare, where the play is printed first – and therein lies a problem: We read linear … first suggests earlier, suggests less mature, suggests less good.

I’ll say it again – I enjoyed watching this play last week – I enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed a Hamlet in many a year. For me, at this time, this is better than Hamlet.

Now, maybe I’m just stupid. And maybe not (chorus of assembled acolytes, “No, Enlightener of the World, never!”).

The fact that Shakespeare has deliberately linked to this play would suggest he had a degree of respect for it – and that the audience of his time would have seen enough performances to be able to make the connections. This is not saying the play is a prototype – something tried and discarded, but that is an active ingredient in the repertory.

Of course, strange things happen with hyperlinks – you can go back and change a text to add an extra reference or delete one (it’s called editing) – so, did Shakespeare – or anyone else, like Middleton – interfere with the text and add a link here, swap a link there?

Most likely: The text we have is from the first folio of 1623 – which Wells suggests is a snapshot of the version actually last performed. And that would suggest Shakespeare could and would have changed anything he didn’t like – and also that the other company members would have thrown in their three penny worth …
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Protean Pre-echoes? 8 years 4 months ago #2069

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akfarrar wrote:
What is it that is going on here? Is Shakespeare just recycling a good idea – like the costumes and props of the Theatre Company? Or is it something else?

[snip]

What Shakespeare seems to be doing here is ‘hyper-texting’ – downright naughty of him so early in the history of the internet. These links do precisely what the little under-linings in this blog do – make you leap across a world of experiences to a specific point.

However, if ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ is the first play, then this implies something very interesting: It is a foundation other plays build on. The other plays are referencing this play.

I’ll say it again – I enjoyed watching this play last week – I enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed a Hamlet in many a year. For me, at this time, this is better than Hamlet.

The fact that Shakespeare has deliberately linked to this play would suggest he had a degree of respect for it – and that the audience of his time would have seen enough performances to be able to make the connections. This is not saying the play is a prototype – something tried and discarded, but that is an active ingredient in the repertory.

I have noticed the same thing. Here's a paragraph from my IMDb user comment on the BBC version:

"And as for the story; yes, well, we all agree that it is not Shakespeare's best. Nor his second or third best, and so on. However, is it not a preliminary study to the rest of his works!? Two Gentlemen of Verona practically overflows with thematic references to a dozen or more of the later plays! To wit: We have four lovers running afoul of each other as in A Midsummer Night's Dream. We have a woman disguised as a man, as in several later plays (well, it was a common Elizabethan theme, and would have helped the boy actors to play female parts without having to act like women all the time). We have a band of forest outlaws, almost as the Arden Forest refugees in As You Like It. We have a Friar Laurence like in Romeo and Juliet, and Julia herself is surely an early version of Juliet. We have references to Milan, Mantua and Verona, all of which recur in later plays. I dare suggest that The Two Gentlemen of Verona is not so much a play as a list of ideas for Shakespeare's subsequent comedies, possibly even written down for the express purpose of serving as cues via the which he would remember what to put into his more mature plays years later. Shakespeare was no fluke; he knew what he was doing."

However, where you say that the other plays are referencing this play, as if they all pay homage to this play, I say instead that The Two Gentlemen of Verona was made as a mind-map for Shakespeare to remember which ideas he was going to put into his later plays. I believe Shakespeare had specific things to say, right from the start and up to The Tempest, and in order to remember the details, he put a good deal of them into this early play, so that he had them for future reference.
akfarrar wrote:
I enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed a Hamlet in many a year. For me, at this time, this is better than Hamlet.

Now, this is where your cookie starts to crumble... :-)
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Protean Pre-echoes? 8 years 4 months ago #2071

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I toyed with the idea of knowledge mapping and in the end decided against it - it suggests a degree of deliberation and pre-planning Shakespeare couldn't have put in. I am using 'Compendium' to map my activities with the Complete Works at the moment, and am very aware that it is a tool I can only use on Shakespeare with 'hindsight'.
What the 'mapping idea' does convey very nicely is the interconnectivity of the play - both backwards and forwards - if you put the Janus post together with this you'll see I think Shakespeare is linking and responding to the agenda of his time much more than any one of his own ...
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Protean Pre-echoes? 8 years 4 months ago #2072

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The woman, spaniel, the walnut tree,
The more you beat them, the better they be.




Stanley Wells digs this one up in his Shakespeare and Co. It's origins are 'folk wisdom' its particular form here, care of John Taylor, ferry-boat man - who was a published author.

It's the spaniel that gets me ... hyper-linking in Elizabethan England.

This particular case is after 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' but I think it illustrates nicely both an attitude (one assumable as common, if not provocative, even in Elizabethan England) and a process - the interlinking of images and ideas across the 'hyper-space' of the Elizabethan mindset.

nux, asinus, mulier verbere opus habent
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Protean Pre-echoes? 8 years 4 months ago #2073

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This fascinating animal gets dragged up twice in Two Gentlemen:


SIL. What, angry, Sir Thurio? do you change colour?

VAL. Give him leave, madam, he is a kind of chameleon.

THU. That hath more mind to feed on your blood than live in your air.

II, 4

Usually associated with love ...

SPEED. Ay, but hearken, sir; though the chameleon Love can feed on the air, I am one that am nourish'd by my victuals, and would fain have meat.

II, 1

But, published around the time of the play's writing, I came across this fascinating little snippit:

But herein they rather disgrace than adorn their persons, as by their niceness in apparel, for which I say most nations do not unjustly deride us, as also for that we do seem to imitate all nations round about us, wherein we be like to the polypus or chameleon; and thereunto bestow most cost upon our arses, and much more than upon all the rest of our bodies,


It's in a description of England by one Mr William Harrison - part of Holinshed's Chronicles. What I like is the connection with clothes - which is the context it pops up in with Thurio ... killing two birds with one stone.

Do you also notice the 'polypus'? Now, searching high and low I eventually got a 'none-medical' connection ... the cuttlefish. What on earth is Proteus? Well a sea creature ...who changes shape in order not to be captured. I admit, I am stretching it a bit, but I can just hear this sort of conversation going on after the play - all very 'witty' all very 'intellectual' and schoolbookish.

We've also got the poor thing popping up in Lyly:

Love is a chameleon, which draweth nothing
into the mouth but air and nourisheth nothing in the body
but lungs.


(Endimion)

So linking in the theatrical hyperspace too.

Am I getting into tangled webs here? Most likely, but I get the impression that this is the way this play works ... sparks of ideas fly around and 'conceits' abound.

:roll:
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Protean Pre-echoes? 8 years 4 months ago #2075

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akfarrar wrote:
I toyed with the idea of knowledge mapping and in the end decided against it - it suggests a degree of deliberation and pre-planning Shakespeare couldn't have put in.

I say he could. And did. Everything in all of Shakespeare's work is interconnected, and it's planned that way from the beginning. Names and places acquire additional meaning when cross-referenced with each other; definitions of exotic terms manifest themselves when the other instances of Shakespearean usage are consulted, etc. It's as if he's laying out an entire world view for us to marvel at and attempt to penetrate.
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Protean Pre-echoes? 8 years 4 months ago #2081

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Now you take Shakespeare into the realms of divinity - and Bardolation.

Something I most certainly deny.

I used the word edit - intentionally.
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Protean Pre-echoes? 8 years 4 months ago #2086

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Divinity, no - Bardolatry, sure! Shakespeare is the most brilliant guy who ever lived. Do you most certainly deny that, too? :-)
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