November 19th, 2005

bear by san

(no subject)

Courtesy of silme ^H^H^H^H^Hshewhomust, a link to a Guardian article by the writer of the television play A Waste of Shame, on BBC4 next week for those of you who get it.

Again with the popular wisdom about the evilness of Annie Hathaway. Alas, poor Annie. Stuck home with the kids, and four hundred years of masculine condemnation for being a bad wife.

That's okay, honey. We girls understand.
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Those lips that Love's own hand did make, / Breathed forth the sound that said, 'I hate'--

volterraread asked, here--

I don't suppose there's the remotest chance that the Dark Lady is Anne H.? (not that I've read the sonnets in an age, aside from what you've posted!)

And what I wrote got too long for the comment field. Um. So here it is.

Considering that Shakespeare talks specifically about violating his marital vows with her, not so much.

However, comma, the fact of the matter is that the sonnets could very well be a novel, of sorts. Except for a couple of things.

As an aside, the author of the Guardian article doesn't mention the other characters who wander through the Sonnets--the Rival Poet, for example, who could be any number of people (Marlowe? Jonson? Chapman? Nashe?) or a combination of several of them.

I'm breaking with consensus when I say that I rather think that the person to whom the first seventeen sonnets are addressed (The Young Man Of Good Fortune In Want Of A Wife, if you will... er... if you like...) is NOT the Fair Young Man of the later sonnets. The first seventeen, frankly, read to me like commissioned work, a series of articulate arguments to a stranger.

Eighteen and up, though.... *whew* (mops brow.)

Annie does make one appearance in the sonnets, other than as the Wronged Wife, offstage and only mentioned in passing as the source of guilt.

She's the subject of Sonnet 145:

Those lips that Love's own hand did make,
Breathed forth the sound that said 'I hate',
To me that languished for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom;
And taught it thus anew to greet;
'I hate' she altered with an end,
That followed it as gentle day,
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away.
'I hate', from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying 'not you'.

He's punning on his wife's maiden name, there. "Hate away," "Hathaway"

This sonnet is largely ignored, and there's a cottage industry in discrediting it (It's juvenilia, it's not really Will, it can't be a love poem he wrote when he was 18 because it relies on Astrophel and Stella, which wasn't published yet--)

However, comma, the sonnets were published in Shakespeare's lifetime; the idea that it was the work of someone else somehow interpolated doesn't hold water. He bloody well put it in there, and when he did, he put it at the end of the sequence, rather than the beginning.

I suspect because it's a tender love poem that doesn't fit that manufactured idea of Anne Hathaway as the sneaky older woman who entrapped a naive young man into marriage through the time-honored expedient of getting herself knocked up. (The eldest daughter was born a bit close to the marriage, as they say, and the marriage was a bit, er, hasty. And there's the issue of the, er, will, in which she's notoriously given the second-best bed and that's taken of evidence as a slam, a cruel reminder of Will's philandering... which ignores the fact that there was such a thing as a widow's portion, and more, that the will assigns everything not otherwise enumerated to elder daughter Susanna and her husband... who apparently, if the burial records are anything to go on, took very good care of Annie. Anyway. And dude, that bed could be an heirloom, it could be the marriage bed, it could be one inherited from Anne's family... I think the boys historically have just wanted Will to have a lousy marriage so they can have him to themselves. But. Hobby Horse. I digress. *Stuffs feminist diatribe back in box*)

Anyway, 18 was very early for an Elizabethan man to marry. Late twenties was far more common.

The superficial context of this sonnet is pretty obvious--that Will courted her, and she put him off as graciously as possible for rather some time, and he eventually won her. Chiding that tongue that ever sweet / Was used in giving gentle doom;

However, there are those who prefer their Will to have been fleeing an abusive marriage while he was philandering his way around London, and so they make Annie a bit of a termagant and a predator.

What interests me about this sonnet in particular, however, is that we can see its relevance to a real-life situation. Which, um, kind of supports the idea that the sonnets are a True Life Story, OMG.

And I think there's another interpretation, which I haven't seen elsewhere, so may be unique to me. And which does dispense with most of the objections.

I think that this sonnet, especially given its placement near the end of the sequence, can be read as the acknowledgment of a reconciliation. He did go back to her at the end of his life, and I dunno about you, but if my husband came home to admit he'd been catting around with various young men and women in London, I might be moved to swear I hated him, too. And then, under the right circumstances, I might also be moved to take it back.

And if I were a grateful husband, I might under those circumstances be moved to make a note of that forgiveness. Which might include something to the effect of reworking an old poem into a new form.

This poem stands out among the others. The meter is different. It's intentionally made to stand out, and not stuck at the beginning as one might expect of a poem that doesn't really belong in the cycle, but is getting published there anyway because writers are greedy and we want all our words read, even the early ones. (Which is my theory on the first 17, anyway.)

There's all this numerology stuff associated with the Sonnets, too, which I don't even pretend to understand. But, looking at this as a writer rather than a critic, this poem is serving a structural purpose in the narrative. And I think it's foolish to pretend it's not doing that.

in other news, truepenny is smart about worlbuilding. And I don't just say that because she flatters me.

bear by san

(no subject)

Ah, the so-called Shakespeare authorship question has finally reared it's ugly head on my blog. I knew it would happen eventually.

Just to get my public statement on the record regarding the whole issue, my considered opinion is that it's boring as hell, and I'm not going to discuss it, or refute it, or suffer myself to be evangelized to. I don't care if you think the plays and poems attributed to William Shakespeare were written by Christopher Marlowe, or Edward de Vere, or Francis Bacon, or Elizabeth Tudor, or Thomas Dekker's dog, or Aphra Behn for that matter.

I'm not part of a great conspiracy to prevent the just recognition of Edward de Vere as the real author of the works in question. I just really don't care.

Nor am I out to prove that Shakespeare actually wrote them. I'm a fiction writer, and what I write is fiction, and I like it that way. I'm not interested in pointless religious arguments on any topic. I don't care what you think, either: I have no investment in proselytizing you or debating with you in an effort to change your mind if you do happen to think it was Ben Jonson and Thomas Walsingham in collaboration. Knock yourself out. Have fun. Write a book; it'll make more money than mine do.

In other words, I'm pretty much with this guy over here, who presents a reasonably solid overview of the issue at hand for anybody who might be confused by my comments above, and want to read about it.

As for me, I'm off the topic. I still reserve the right to mock the hell out of Edward de Vere, however.
bear by san

(no subject)

Now Ackroyd is maintaining that Shakespeare in the bawdiest and most sexual of the Elizabethan poets.

...way to lose all credibility, Peter.

In addition to Nashe, apparently he hasn't read a lot of the rather aptly named Jonson, either:

 Chlo. Yet again? Is't not grace enough for you, that
I call you Husband, and you call me Wife: but you
must still be poking me, against my will, to things?

   Albi. But you know, Wife, here are the greatest La-
dies, and Gallantest Gentlemen of Rome, to be enter-
tain'd in our House now: and I would fain advise thee,
to entertain them in the best sort, i' faith, Wife.

   Chlo. In sincerity, did you ever hear a man talk so
idly? You would seem to be Master? you would have
your Spoke in my Cart? you would advise me to en-
tertain Ladies and Gentlemen? because you can mar-
shal your Pack-needles, Horse-combs, Hobby-Horses, and
Wall-candle-sticks in your Ware-house better than I,
therefore you can tell how to entertain Ladies and Gen-
tlefolks better than I?

   Albi. O my sweet Wife, upbraid me not with that:
"Gain favours sweetly from any thing; he that re-
spects to get, must relish all Commodities alike; and
admit no difference betwixt Ode and Frankincense; or
the most precious Balsamum and a Tar-barrel.

   Chlo. Marry fough: You sell Snuffers too, if you be
remembred, but I pray you let me buy them out of your
hand; for I tell you true, I take it highly in Snuff, to
learn how to entertain Gentlefolks of you, at these
years i'faith. Alas man, there was not a Gentleman
came to you house i' your t'other Wives time, I hope?
nor a Lady? nor Musick? nor Masks? Nor you, nor
your House were so much as spoken of, before I dis-
bast my self, from my Hood and my Farthingal, to these
Bum-rowls and your Whale-bone-Bodies.

   Albi. Look here, my sweet Wife; I am mum, my
dear Mummia, my Balsamum, my sperma cete, and my
very City of --- she has the most best, true, feminine
wit in Rome!

   Chris. I have heard so, Sir; and do most vehemently
desire to participate the knowledge of her fair Features.

   Albi. Ah, peace; you shall hear more anon: be not
seen yet, I pray you; not yet: observe.

   Chlo. Give Husbands the Head a little more, and they'll
be nothing but Head shortly; what's he there?

   Maid 1. I know not, forsooth.

   Maid 2. Who would you speak with, Sir?

   Cris. I would speak with my Cousin Cytheris.

   Maid 2. He is one, forsooth, would speak with his
Cousin Cytheris.

   Chlo. Is she your Cousin, Sir?

   Chris. Yes in truth, forsooth, for fault of a better.
Chlo. She is a Gentlewomau?

   Cris. Or else she should not be my Cousin, I assure

   Chlo. Are you a Gentleman born?

   Cris. That I am, Lady; you shall see mine Arms, if't
please you.

   Chlo. No, your Legs do sufficiently shew you are a
Getleman born Sir: for a Man born upon little Legs, is
always a Gentleman born.
Cris. Yet, I pray you, vouchsafe the sight of my
Arms, Mistress; for I bear them about me, to have 'em
seen: my name is Crispinus, or Cri-spinas indeed; which        
is well exprest in my Arms, (a Face crying in Chief; and
beneath it a bloody Toe, between three Thorns Pun-

   Chlo. Then you are welcome, Sir, now you are a
Gentleman born, I can find it my Heart to welcom you:
for I am Gentlewoman born too, and will bear my Head
high enough, though 'twere my fortune to marry a

   Cris. No doubt of that, sweet Feature, your Carriage
shews it in any Mans Eye, that is carried upon you with

[He is still going in and out.
   Alb. Dear Wife, be not angry.

   Chlo. God's my Passion!

   Alb. Hear me but one thing; let not your Maids set
Cushions in the Parlor Windows; nor in the Dining-
chamber Windows; nor upon Stools, in either of them,
in any case; for 'tis Tavern-like; but lay them one up-
on another, in some out-room or corner of the Dining-

   Chlo. Go, go, meddle with your Bed-chamber only;
or rathere with your Bed in your Chamber only; or ra-
there with your Wife in your Bed only; or on my faith
I'll not be pleas'd with you only.

--The Poetaster, 2:1

...yep. That's all just as dirty as you think it might be. Jonson's really funny when he gets going.

ETA: Also, Akroyd apparently hasn't heard the story about the Theatre being skidded across the frozen Thames when they pulled it down, or I'm sure he would have mentioned it here, since he gave something like two or three chapters to the Lancashire story, which is kind of spotty at best... but apparently in line with his pro-Catholic-Shakespeare prejudices, and so must be mentioned. (Oddly enough, he calls it The Globe even before it's rebuilt on this page, but since this is an ARC, it's probably a slip of the pen and meant to be corrected in the final version.)
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bear by san

appropos of nothing

The world needs an online journal entirely of humorously scathing fannish reviews, to be titled Spork Illustrated.

I nominate yhlee as the first contributor.
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Dear Mr. Ackroyd:

The play performed before Elizabeth on the eve of Essex's rebellion is reported to have been Richard II (a significant choice for her Majesty, as history will report).

It may interest you to know that the chubby Shakespeare in the Stratford-upon-Avon memorial bust dates from the 1700s. The original bust was also created after his death, but some believe his daughter Susanna Hall provided a death mask for the likeness. In surviving sketches, it doesn't look much at all like the water-retention Shakespeare we all know and love. 

(We can at least take a pretty good guess that he was a victim of male pattern baldness, I'll give you that, and I did like the bit of a chapter on the presumptive targeting of good old satirical philandering "Adam Prickshaft" at our boy Will.)

Also, many critics believe that the earring on the so-called Chandros portrait that may or may not be Shakespeare is a fanciful later addition.

Love, ebear.


And yes, I used the earring as a plot point in my book.

Because (all together now) I write fiction.

And so apparently does Mr. Ackroyd.

Gah, there's not enough spork in the world, Spleen.