Category Archives: English Literature

Marring Marlowe: A Low Pun in Edward II?

    Contemporary humanists often seem to operate on the principle that any possible pun in Shakespeare and his contemporaries is real or intended (loaded word!) or somehow present to the alert reader, inevitably adding to the meaning of the passage. It … Continue reading

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“I’ll put her to her pension”: A Mad World, My Masters I.ii.66

One of the more difficult passages in Middleton’s play is the soliloquy of Harebrain (aka Shortrod) as the “pure virgin” (actually a courtesan) fetches his wife (I.ii.62-69): This is the course I take; I’ll teach the married man A new … Continue reading

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Lies Necessary and Unnecessary

A real liar does not tell wanton and unnecessary lies. He tells wise and necessary lies. It was not necessary for Gahagan to tell us once that he had seen not one sea-serpent but six sea-serpents, each larger than the … Continue reading

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Who Invented Ten-Sided Dice?

Who invented the ‘d10′ ten-sided dice used in many modern board games? I don’t know, but Shakespeare seems to presume their existence in the last scene of Timon of Athens (variously numbered 5.4, 5.5, or 17), lines 31-34, where the … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin VIII – Faustus’ Oath

It seems best to divide the text (I.2.230-34) into convenient pieces, number them for easy reference (and speaking), and interleave text and translation, with all the notes below: 1. Sint míhi déi Acheróntis propítii! May the gods of Acheron be … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin VII – some bits I missed, one of them not Latin

I will get to Faustus’ oath soon, but in the mean time here are three bits I missed. At some point, I hope to put these all together on one page, in order, with line references to the various editions, … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin VI – Faustus (all except the oath)

Most of the Latin in Doctor Faustus is spoken by Faustus himself, and some he glosses himself: I.1.35: Béne dissérere est fínis lógices. In the next line, Faustus asks “Is to dispute well logic’s chiefest end?” which just rephrases this … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin V – Mephistopheles

Mephistopheles has three bits of Latin: II.1.429: Solámen míseris sócios habuísse dolóris. Solamen is ‘consolation’ – relative, not interrogative – miseris is ‘to/for the wretched/miserable’, socios (related to ‘social, society, associate’) is ‘companions, associates, allies’ (plural direct object), habuisse is … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin German – Wagner again

Should Faustus’ servant’s name be pronounced like Richard Wagner’s last name (VAHG-ner) or like Honus or Robert or Lindsay Wagner’s (WAG-ner)? I’ve heard it both ways in productions. Would Marlowe have known the basic German pronunciation? Presumably: between his mysterious … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin IV – Wagner

Wagner has has two bits of Latin, but each raises a mildly tricky question of pronunciation: I.4.338: Qui míhi discípulus. Kwee MEE-hee diss-KIP-uh-luss. Qui is ‘who’ – relative, not interrogative – mihi is ‘to/for me’, and discipulus is ‘student, pupil’ … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin III – 1st Scholar

The 1st Scholar has only one tiny bit of Latin: I.1.186: Sic próbo. SEEK PRO-bo. Sic is ‘thus’ – still used in square brackets to show that something inside quotation marks was misspelled by the author, not the editor. Probo … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin II – The Friars

When Faustus and Mephistophilis disrupt the Pope’s dinner in Act III, the monks who curse them have two bits of Latin, the first repeated half a dozen times: III.1.831: Màledícat Dóminus. This is basically three and a half trochees: Mah-leh-DEE-caht … Continue reading

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Faustian Latin I – General Remarks

A few months ago, I promised some grad students putting on a production of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus that I would help them with the Latin. Now that I’m back from Germany – more on that later – it’s time I … Continue reading

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Curculio 5: Worst. Endearment. Ever.

Peter Davidson’s Poetry and Revolution: An Anthology of British and Irish Verse 1625-1660 (Oxford, 1998) includes a rather dull love-poem (number 36) by “T.C.”, most likely Thomas Cary, “Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Charles I” (516). The untitled poetic dialogue … Continue reading

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Walter Scott Anagrammatized

Laudator Temporis Acti has an interesting post on Sir Walter Scott’s library. If you haven’t already read it, go and do so before continuing. Done? OK, let’s continue. I was naturally curious about the anagram, wondering how Scott’s library motto, … Continue reading

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Curculio 4: A Sly Joke in The Alchemist?

Kastril or Kestrel, the ‘angry boy’ of Ben Jonson’s Alchemist, calls his sister his ‘suster’ and says ‘kuss’ for ‘kiss’.1 It is not clear whether this is meant to represent a particular regional dialect, a generalized country accent, or his … Continue reading

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Best Match of Editor’s Name and Subject?

I’m torn between the Kiss Catullus – the online Catullus edited by Daniel Kiss (link) – and the Hankey Othello (link). Can anyone think of a third? Possibly the worst match between performer and subject (onomastically, I mean – he … Continue reading

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Curculio 2: ‘Pervert the Present Wrath’: a Conjecture on Cymbeline

I am experimenting with publishing original scholarly notes on this site. My first attempt, a week ago, was a single page on the structure of Silius Italicus’ Punica. I have just uploaded a PDF file of my second paper, two … Continue reading

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D. M. G. K. Chesterton and J. L. Borges

Two more author anniversaries today, and again authors best known for their short stories. It is the 75th anniversary of the death of G. K. Chesterton, and the 25th anniversary of the death of Jorge Luis Borges. Here’s a bit … Continue reading

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A Missed Opportunity for Aesthetic Synergy

The American Shakespeare Center is currently doing four plays in rotation at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton: I Henry IV, Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, and Titus Andronicus. All are delightful in their different ways. Unfortunately, Titus … Continue reading

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