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William Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT

[ Edited ]
Since the twelfth night of Christmas is approaching, let's read William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night! You can find an electronic version here:

http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/s/shakespeare/william/twelfth/

and there are some questions at this site to get us started:

http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl331/12thnight.html


Laurel wrote (message linked here):
I'm reading "Twelfth Night" now. It's full of charm, but there's a bit of cruelty to it as well, which is somewhat disturbing.

Message Edited by pmath on 12-11-200605:52 AM

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Songs in TWELFTH NIGHT

[ Edited ]
I was particularly interested in question 9 in the study guide I linked. Having Viola sing some of the songs would have enlarged her role further still, and perhaps made the connection between her and Feste stronger.

pmath wrote:
...there are some questions at this site to get us started:

http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl331/12thnight.html

Message Edited by pmath on 12-12-200611:50 AM

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Re: Songs in TWELFTH NIGHT

[ Edited ]

pmath wrote:
I was particularly interested in question 9 in the study guide I linked. Having Viola sing some of the songs would have enlarged her role further still, and perhaps made the connection between her and Feste stronger.





Feste is 'an allowed fool', one licensed by Olivia's father to be a privileged critic, able to tell the truth about the people around him. The songs contain such truths but Viola is not a jester so cannot sing them. Feste's main contribution to the play are his songs, which are quite sad:

What is Love? 'Tis not Hereafter;
Present mirth has present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure;
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me sweet and twenty!
Youth's a stuff will not endure.
(Act II Scene III.)

We get the feeling that Feste might be feeling old and tired (some productions show him always drunk). He is the sad clown - like Pagliacci. The jesters in the play are Feste, Maria and Sir Toby and they are the ones who control the humour and make the comedy work. They all assist in the game of make-believe and help to create the confusion which sustains the play but Feste's singing introduces a note of sadness into the jesting and casts some shadows around the young lovers, as in the above song.

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-11-200601:34 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-11-200601:35 AM

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Fools in TWELFTH NIGHT

Perhaps almost everyone is a fool at some point in TN! It would be interesting to examine all the instances of the word fool in TN, but I can recall at least two. From Act I, scene v:
CLOWN
Good madonna, why mournest thou?

OLIVIA
Good fool, for my brother’s death.

CLOWN
I think his soul is in hell, madonna.

OLIVIA
I know his soul is in heaven, fool.

CLOWN
The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.
From Act III, Scene i:
OLIVIA
Stay:
I prithee, tell me what thou thinkest of me.

VIOLA
That you do think you are not what you are.

OLIVIA
If I think so, I think the same of you.

VIOLA
Then think you right: I am not what I am.

OLIVIA
I would you were as I would have you be!

VIOLA
Would it be better, madam, than I am?
I wish it might, for now I am your fool.
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Re: Fools in TWELFTH NIGHT - & jesters, clowns, buffoons.

[ Edited ]

pmath wrote:
Perhaps almost everyone is a fool at some point in TN! It would be interesting to examine all the instances of the word fool in TN, but I can recall at least two.



Yes - I think Shakespeare thought we were all fools as there are numerous such references in the plays such as 'Love makes fools of us all' (Midsummer Night's Dream). It is useful to note that the words jester, clown and buffoon had different meanings in Elizabethan England. Clowns, jesters, and Buffoons are usually regarded as fools. Their differences could be of how they dress, act or portrayed in
society. A clown for example, "was understood to be a country bumpkin or 'cloun'". In Elizabethan usage, the word 'clown' is ambiguous "meaning both countryman and principal comedian". Another meaning given to it in the 1600 is "a fool or jester".
As for a buffoon, it is defined as "a man whose profession is to make low jests and antics postures; a clown, jester, fool". The buffoon is a fool because "although he exploits his own weaknesses instead of being exploited by others....he resembles
other comic fools". This is similar to the definition of a 'Jester' who is also known as a "buffoon, or a merry andrew. One maintained in a prince's court or nobleman's household". As you can see, the buffoon, jester and the clown are all depicted as fools and are related & tied to each other in some sort of way. They relatively have the same objectives in their roles but in appearance wise (clothes, physical features) they may be different. In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Feste's role in this Illyrian comedy is significant because "Illyria is a country permeated with the spirit of the Feast of Fools, where identities are confused, 'uncivil rule' applauded...and no harm is done". "In Illyria therefore the fool is not so much a critic of his environment as a ringleader, a merry-companion, a Lord of Misrule. Being equally welcome above and below stairs.." makes Feste significant as a character. (From the Notes to my Penguin 1966 edition of TN.)

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-11-200607:27 AM

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Re: jesters, clowns, buffoons

Thanks, Choisya: this is very interesting! I looked into the etymology of these words. The word fool comes from the Latin follis, "bellows," jester from the Latin gerere, "to perform," and buffoon from the Italian buffare, "to puff." The origin of the word clown appears to be uncertain, but it's related to northern European words that mean "clumsy."


Choisya wrote:
I think Shakespeare thought we were all fools as there are numerous such references in the plays such as 'Love makes fools of us all' (Midsummer Night's Dream). It is useful to note that the words jester, clown and buffoon had different meanings in Elizabethan England. Clowns, jesters, and Buffoons are usually regarded as fools. Their differences could be of how they dress, act or portrayed in society.

pmath wrote:
Perhaps almost everyone is a fool at some point in TN! It would be interesting to examine all the instances of the word fool in TN, but I can recall at least two.

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Re: jesters, clowns, buffoons

As our discussion was interrupted, I think perhaps the rest of my post about fools could usefully be re-inserted here:

'...Their differences could be of how they dress, act or portrayed in society. A clown for example, "was understood to be a country bumpkin or 'cloun'". In Elizabethan usage, the word 'clown' is ambiguous "meaning both countryman and principal comedian". Another meaning given to it in the 1600 is "a fool or jester".
As for a buffoon, it is defined as "a man whose profession is to make low jests and antics postures; a clown, jester, fool". The buffoon is a fool because "although he exploits his own weaknesses instead of being exploited by others....he resembles
other comic fools". This is similar to the definition of a 'Jester' who is also known as a "buffoon, or a merry andrew. One maintained in a prince's court or nobleman's household". As you can see, the buffoon, jester and the clown are all depicted as fools and are related & tied to each other in some sort of way. They relatively have the same objectives in their roles but in appearance wise (clothes, physical features) they may be different. In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Feste's role in this Illyrian comedy is significant because "Illyria is a country permeated with the spirit of the Feast of Fools, where identities are confused, 'uncivil rule' applauded...and no harm is done". "In Illyria therefore the fool is not so much a critic of his environment as a ringleader, a merry-companion, a Lord of Misrule. Being equally welcome above and below stairs.." makes Feste significant as a character. (From the Notes to my Penguin 1966 edition of TN.)




pmath wrote:
Thanks, Choisya: this is very interesting! I looked into the etymology of these words. The word fool comes from the Latin follis, "bellows," jester from the Latin gerere, "to perform," and buffoon from the Italian buffare, "to puff." The origin of the word clown appears to be uncertain, but it's related to northern European words that mean "clumsy."


Choisya wrote:
I think Shakespeare thought we were all fools as there are numerous such references in the plays such as 'Love makes fools of us all' (Midsummer Night's Dream). It is useful to note that the words jester, clown and buffoon had different meanings in Elizabethan England. Clowns, jesters, and Buffoons are usually regarded as fools. Their differences could be of how they dress, act or portrayed in society.

pmath wrote:
Perhaps almost everyone is a fool at some point in TN! It would be interesting to examine all the instances of the word fool in TN, but I can recall at least two.




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More on Jesters

Your post on the American Classics board (below) made me think of Punch, the hunchbacked puppet in motley.


Choisya wrote (message linked here):
It is perhaps significant that Hawthorne chose to invoke 'pantomime' in the phrase quoted previously by pmath because pantomime is a peculiarly English form of theatre which has been popular here for centuries and which contains a great deal of satire about everyday English life, despite being cloaked in children's stories.:-

http://www.hissboo.co.uk/pantomimes.shtml

fanuzzir wrote:
"they made themselves so ridiculous by their haste to toil, to enjoy, to accumulate gold, and to become wise."

These seem like code words to me for American culture at its most enterprising. Hawthorne clearly felt alientated form what his own English ancestry had spawned in America. The Pynchons are so far out of the American mainstream they may as well be English.

pmath wrote:
...from Chapter XI,
Possibly some cynic, at once merry and bitter, had desired to signify, in this pantomimic scene, that we mortals, whatever our business or amusement,--however serious, however trifling, --all dance to one identical tune, and, in spite of our ridiculous activity, bring nothing finally to pass.



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Re: Songs in TWELFTH NIGHT

Good analysis, Choisya! As I read the song in your note, I could see and hear Sir Trevor Peacock performing it.



Choisya wrote:

Feste is 'an allowed fool', one licensed by Olivia's father to be a privileged critic, able to tell the truth about the people around him. The songs contain such truths but Viola is not a jester so cannot sing them. Feste's main contribution to the play are his songs, which are quite sad:

What is Love? 'Tis not Hereafter;
Present mirth has present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure;
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me sweet and twenty!
Youth's a stuff will not endure.
(Act II Scene III.)

We get the feeling that Feste might be feeling old and tired (some productions show him always drunk). He is the sad clown - like Pagliacci. The jesters in the play are Feste, Maria and Sir Toby and they are the ones who control the humour and make the comedy work. They all assist in the game of make-believe and help to create the confusion which sustains the play but Feste's singing introduces a note of sadness into the jesting and casts some shadows around the young lovers, as in the above song.

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-11-200601:34 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-11-200601:35 AM




"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: (Vaguely off topic) Songs in TWELFTH NIGHT

Where di you see that production Laurel? Do you get to see much Shakespeare in your neck of the woods? I used to go to Stratford-upon-Avon a lot when I was young and then I moved to London so saw him in the West End, and at the new Globe Theatre, which is a great experience as it is a reconstruction of the theatre which stood on the SouthBank of the Thames in Shakespeare's time and where many of his plays were performed. I hope you can pick up this Webshots slideshow of it:-

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2707949410084930918iKlquh





Laurel wrote:
Good analysis, Choisya! As I read the song in your note, I could see and hear Sir Trevor Peacock performing it.



Choisya wrote:

Feste is 'an allowed fool', one licensed by Olivia's father to be a privileged critic, able to tell the truth about the people around him. The songs contain such truths but Viola is not a jester so cannot sing them. Feste's main contribution to the play are his songs, which are quite sad:

What is Love? 'Tis not Hereafter;
Present mirth has present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure;
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me sweet and twenty!
Youth's a stuff will not endure.
(Act II Scene III.)

We get the feeling that Feste might be feeling old and tired (some productions show him always drunk). He is the sad clown - like Pagliacci. The jesters in the play are Feste, Maria and Sir Toby and they are the ones who control the humour and make the comedy work. They all assist in the game of make-believe and help to create the confusion which sustains the play but Feste's singing introduces a note of sadness into the jesting and casts some shadows around the young lovers, as in the above song.
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Re: (Vaguely off topic) Songs in TWELFTH NIGHT

I wasn't able to see the whole slideshow, but enough to know that I would really like to be in London again. I saw one play at Stratford, and other than that I've only been to plays in Ashland, Oregon at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which runs about six months every year in three theaters and, I think, does an excellent job.

http://www.orshakes.org/

I'm planning another trip there this summer with my brother and his family.

The Twelfth Night that I saw was, alas, only on video--the BBC production with Felicity Kendall as an adorable Viola. I really enjoyed it and plan to watch it several more times when I can get it again from the library.



Choisya wrote:
Where di you see that production Laurel? Do you get to see much Shakespeare in your neck of the woods? I used to go to Stratford-upon-Avon a lot when I was young and then I moved to London so saw him in the West End, and at the new Globe Theatre, which is a great experience as it is a reconstruction of the theatre which stood on the SouthBank of the Thames in Shakespeare's time and where many of his plays were performed. I hope you can pick up this Webshots slideshow of it:-

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2707949410084930918iKlquh





Laurel wrote:
Good analysis, Choisya! As I read the song in your note, I could see and hear Sir Trevor Peacock performing it.



Choisya wrote:

Feste is 'an allowed fool', one licensed by Olivia's father to be a privileged critic, able to tell the truth about the people around him. The songs contain such truths but Viola is not a jester so cannot sing them. Feste's main contribution to the play are his songs, which are quite sad:

What is Love? 'Tis not Hereafter;
Present mirth has present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure;
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me sweet and twenty!
Youth's a stuff will not endure.
(Act II Scene III.)

We get the feeling that Feste might be feeling old and tired (some productions show him always drunk). He is the sad clown - like Pagliacci. The jesters in the play are Feste, Maria and Sir Toby and they are the ones who control the humour and make the comedy work. They all assist in the game of make-believe and help to create the confusion which sustains the play but Feste's singing introduces a note of sadness into the jesting and casts some shadows around the young lovers, as in the above song.



"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: William Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT

What an excellent, festive idea pmath, first suggested by Laurel I think! I'll go along with that as we go towards our own Twelfth Nights:smileyhappy:




pmath wrote:
Since the twelfth night of Christmas is approaching, let's read William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night! You can find an electronic version here:

http://pd.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/twelfthnight/

and there are some questions at this site to get us started:

http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl331/12thnight.html


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Re: (Off topic) William Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT

That is a super programme for 2007 - are you able to get to see them all? I love Tom Stoppard and have seen most of his plays in the West End. It is a long time since I have seen any Moliere but I saw Trevor Nunn's production of The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre (Cottesloe) last year and enjoyed it very much. The Cottesloe is a small theatre and it was performed 'in the round' which made for a very intimate production.




pmath wrote:
Since the twelfth night of Christmas is approaching, let's read William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night! You can find an electronic version here:

http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/s/shakespeare/william/twelfth/

and there are some questions at this site to get us started:

http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl331/12thnight.html


Laurel wrote (message linked here):
I'm reading "Twelfth Night" now. It's full of charm, but there's a bit of cruelty to it as well, which is somewhat disturbing.

Message Edited by pmath on 12-11-200605:52 AM




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Re: (Off topic) William Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT

I'd love to see all the Shakespeares, Tartuffe, and the Cherry Orchard. We haven't made any concrete plans yet. There's a new Tom Stoppard about Russia that I would really like to see sometime.



Choisya wrote:
That is a super programme for 2007 - are you able to get to see them all? I love Tom Stoppard and have seen most of his plays in the West End. It is a long time since I have seen any Moliere but I saw Trevor Nunn's production of The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre (Cottesloe) last year and enjoyed it very much. The Cottesloe is a small theatre and it was performed 'in the round' which made for a very intimate production.




pmath wrote:
Since the twelfth night of Christmas is approaching, let's read William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night! You can find an electronic version here:

http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/s/shakespeare/william/twelfth/

and there are some questions at this site to get us started:

http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl331/12thnight.html


Laurel wrote (message linked here):
I'm reading "Twelfth Night" now. It's full of charm, but there's a bit of cruelty to it as well, which is somewhat disturbing.

Message Edited by pmath on 12-11-200605:52 AM







"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: (Off topic) William Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT



Laurel wrote:
I'd love to see all the Shakespeares, Tartuffe, and the Cherry Orchard. We haven't made any concrete plans yet. There's a new Tom Stoppard about Russia that I would really like to see sometime.


I expect you mean his trilogy The Coast of Utopia. I saw the first one, Voyage, at the National when it came out. It is about Russian intellectuals dreaming of revolution - very Utopian. I understand that the later plays come to grips with the reality but as yet I haven't seen them. You will enjoy them I'm sure.
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Slight Interruption: New Shakespeare Book Club on the Way

Hi Everyone --

Sorry to interrupt your Twelfth Night discussion but (as I posted in the Shakespeare "planning" thread) --- we are working hard on making arrangements for a Shakespeare book club. This will be a permanent book club that will feature a focus on a new play every month (perhaps there will be a month devoted to sonnets as well). With over 30 plays to work with, that should give us plenty to do for some time!

You'll get notice in advance about which plays are scheduled for future months, to give you a chance to get the text and read ahead. We'll try to schedule a mix of the "big hits" and the less well-known plays.

It's a little early to say much more than that, but we're closing in on getting our moderator and the opening reading selection finalized, and I thought it made sense to clue this group in. More as we know it.

Thanks, as always, for your participation, enthusiasm, and ideas.

-Bill
Lit. and Fiction Editor, Barnes & Noble Book Clubs

See the latest news about book clubs in the Book Clubs Blog.
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Re: Slight Interruption: New Shakespeare Book Club on the Way

Thanks Bill, sounds like a great idea and am looking forward to it!
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Re: Slight Interruption: New Shakespeare Book Club on the Way

Thanks! Sounds great.



LitEditor wrote:
Hi Everyone --

Sorry to interrupt your Twelfth Night discussion but (as I posted in the Shakespeare "planning" thread) --- we are working hard on making arrangements for a Shakespeare book club. This will be a permanent book club that will feature a focus on a new play every month (perhaps there will be a month devoted to sonnets as well). With over 30 plays to work with, that should give us plenty to do for some time!

You'll get notice in advance about which plays are scheduled for future months, to give you a chance to get the text and read ahead. We'll try to schedule a mix of the "big hits" and the less well-known plays.

It's a little early to say much more than that, but we're closing in on getting our moderator and the opening reading selection finalized, and I thought it made sense to clue this group in. More as we know it.

Thanks, as always, for your participation, enthusiasm, and ideas.

-Bill
Lit. and Fiction Editor, Barnes & Noble Book Clubs


_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Re: Slight Interruption: New Shakespeare Book Club on the Way

Great news! It will be good to have an actual Shakespeare Club - something that folks often asked for on the old BNU. I am sure lots of folks will look forward to that. Does this also mean that B&N will be publishing more Shakespeare because folks have been saying that they can't find any B&N copies in print? (Sorry, but as a Brit I will be using my old Penguin editions:smileyhappy:)




Everyman wrote:
Thanks! Sounds great.



LitEditor wrote:
Hi Everyone --

Sorry to interrupt your Twelfth Night discussion but (as I posted in the Shakespeare "planning" thread) --- we are working hard on making arrangements for a Shakespeare book club. This will be a permanent book club that will feature a focus on a new play every month (perhaps there will be a month devoted to sonnets as well). With over 30 plays to work with, that should give us plenty to do for some time!

You'll get notice in advance about which plays are scheduled for future months, to give you a chance to get the text and read ahead. We'll try to schedule a mix of the "big hits" and the less well-known plays.

It's a little early to say much more than that, but we're closing in on getting our moderator and the opening reading selection finalized, and I thought it made sense to clue this group in. More as we know it.

Thanks, as always, for your participation, enthusiasm, and ideas.

-Bill
Lit. and Fiction Editor, Barnes & Noble Book Clubs





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LitEditor
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Re: Slight Interruption: New Shakespeare Book Club on the Way


Choisya wrote:
Great news! It will be good to have an actual Shakespeare Club - something that folks often asked for on the old BNU. I am sure lots of folks will look forward to that. Does this also mean that B&N will be publishing more Shakespeare because folks have been saying that they can't find any B&N copies in print? (Sorry, but as a Brit I will be using my old Penguin editions:smileyhappy:)


Choisya, there's a whole new line of B&N-published Shakespeare coming out next year, so we'll probably be featuring those editions some of the time. I've seen some "advance previews" and they look very nice and well-annotated. However, because there are so many fine editions of Shakespeare, we expect that most people will simply choose the one they like best, and some people may want to use one of the nice complete editions. Since it's easiest when discussing Shakespeare to refer to passages by Act and line#, there aren't huge problems with multiple editions in the discussion -- except, of course, when you get into the question of which "version" of the play the text is taken from. But maybe some comparison of the alternates will even prove interesting in the conversation.

See the latest news about book clubs in the Book Clubs Blog.
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