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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

I'm amused as hell over this review of Anthony Burgess' A Dead Man in Deptford that I stumbled across which refers to Kit Marlowe as a "practicing" homosexual.

My first reaction: "You'd think if anybody would have gotten buggery perfected, it would have been Marlowe."

Leah's was better: "As opposed to a lapsed homosexual?"

We'll not even get into the silliness of attempting to assign modern Western binary gay/straight notions of sexuality to other cultures. Which reminds me. I'm having a hell of a time getting across to the modern readers who don't already know it just how close the Elizabethan ideal of male friendship and love can be without being considered sexual.

I may just have to find a way to do a little straight exposition, which in tight third pov can be a trick.

The Onion: The nation's most reliable source for news.

Hah, you think I'm kidding.
Re: My personal revamping of Shakespearean criticism: There are also two "Rival Poets." Possibly three.

I tend to think the organization of the sonnets as originally published suggests that while they were organized by theme, sonnets published side by side and numbered sequentially were not necessarily written anything like close to one another. I blame compulsive poetic quests for tidyness on the final organization.

I think some of them very definitely form an arc, as it were. But it's the grossest kind of critical laziness to assume they only form one narrative arc. I'm about the same age now that will was in 1595, just about the beginning of the peak of his career, and I can point to a *lot* of my own work that might seem to make a nice tidy story if you lined it up in the right sort of order. But. That's what editors (and self-editors) do: they make all the blood and guts and juice of a creative life look superficially tidy.
Okay, had a nap and may now attempt food and to expand on the whimpering, cringing little 250 words I got this morning. Ew, I feel like ech.


There's this problem with Shakespeare critics confronted with the sonnets. We need a 12-step program for it. Because otherwise perfectly decent, rational critics will suddenly flip out and insist that the sonnets MUST be autobiographical, and that therefore (a.) they MUST tell a coherent story and (b.) everyone mentioned MUST be a real person and therefore it is our BOUNDEN DUTY to figure out who they are.

This is the most insanely cretinously fuckheaded piece of arrant nonsense in a discipline and speciality that has more than its fair share. (*looks pointedly at the Baconians*)

And, no, you're going to have a terrible time conveying without expository-lumping the fluid nature of sexuality in early modern England. There's an article, "Sodomy and Society: The Case against Christopher Marlowe," by Jonathan Goldberg, which talks about the problem of what exactly the Elizabethans meant by "sodomy," and how it related to a whole host of things, only one of which was actually homosexuality. It might be a place to start thinking about conceptual and word games you could play that would get things across without having to make Will and Kit have a long serious discussion about it. :) (The article was originally published in Southwest Review 69 (1984): 371-78. It's also collected in Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, ed. David Scott Kastan and Peter Stallybrass (New York: Routledge, 1991), pp. 75-82.) And from there you can always play hunt-the-footnote for as long as you please. :)


I don't suppose you could photocopy that for me? Because I would lurve to read it--

I live in Las Vegas. University libraries are just a pale dream I remember from many years ago, when I was in civilization.

Because I know how I *want* it to work--it has to be part of the fictional dream, and jus taccepted by the reader that this is how things are--but it's giving me fits.

Oddly, I'm doing better on that front with older readers rather than younger ones. The younger ones seem to see things only in terms of romance/not romance, when presented in this context. Demographics works!

Re: Ugh.

Sure. I have to go to the library tomorrow anyway.

There may be a thing, demographically, with the fact that younger readers are simply PREPARED to see homoerotic (sub)text in a very close relationship between people of the same sex. Because it isn't unthinkable or mind-blowingly shocking. So in a way, it's a good thing that you can't keep the slash out ... not for the book, I mean, but as a societal comment. I don't know. I'm totally making shit up here.

I thought there was a UNLV. Am I dreaming? Or do they not let the unwashed proletariat into their library?

Re: Ugh.

There is a UNLV. Whether you can call what it has a library is a matter of opinion....


Thank you!

Re: Ugh.

There is a UNLV. Whether you can call what it has a library is a matter of opinion....

Ah, yes. Say no more.

Hit Post too soon, dammit

Re: Sonnets

Hell, yes. The worst part is, some of these critics are poets. You'd think they'd have a clue how it works!

I dunno. There are some of them that *obviously* complete little sonnet-sequences. And others that are obviously inserted to break up those little sonnet-sequences. Which, given the Elizabethan prediliction for games of numerology and anagram, seems like a broad sort of hint to me.


Funny. I use the term :arrant fuckheadedness: too. Perhaps we were separated at birth?

Re: Hit Post too soon, dammit

Spenser was ALL OVER the numerology, and I suspect it was habit to play little games like that for a lot of them. It is for me, which I suppose might be all the Renaissance lit. rubbing off--my Shakespeare professor in college warned us that one danger of studying Shakespeare is that you'd find yourself punning inadvertantly. Which is true.

I think I actually got the term "cretinous fuckhead" from someone else, but I'm not sure. But I like "arrant fuckheadedness," and will probably start using it. :)

Re: Hit Post too soon, dammit

Well, I find myself doing it contantly. And they usually have sexual connotations.

And since I'm reading Marlowe's Ovid now, it will only get worse....