96. 11 August 1996 [NM] (Shakespeare Arms piece; S. de Madariaga on Calisto y Melibea; King John; Hölderlin)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Eric, yours of 1 inst. full of juice as usual! With beautiful card. Why don't you go and live there? The world needs your time to be long. You've got to guide the new generations into all those missing years of creative Shakespeare criticism.

   Your Shakespeare Arms pages, most interesting to me, specially as they involve looking into his hand-writing. I suppose you couldn't include photos of the actual texts, just to allécher? D'you think it w'd be worth looking at (and refuting?) enclosed Baconian comments on the subject?

I wish when looking at that thorniest and fruitfullest of questions, holograph texts, you'd glance at the page supposedly written by Shakespeare in the Northumberland MS.


   Reading Edw. III, where you write about the alleged double authorship reminded me of a brilliant article of my father's on Calisto y Melibea, the beautiful Spanish pre Romeo and Juliet. A famous critic, he found, was determined to prove two hands. It was quite obvious this critic argued, the man who described the modest girlish Melibea before their first love-night could not the same who describes the shameless mistress after it! Academe doesn't necessarily know LIFE.

   I've been amusing myself spotting Shakespeare with your very clear guidelines in hand. Found Fair Emunmistakeably his, and Arden of Faversham possibly (tho' you don't include this in your pre '94?) Then I read some Greene, and found one curious trait: he keeps bringing in food at irrelevant moments. Must have been a very hungry man. I read Mucedorus, expecting to find Shakespeare, instead I found the cravings and descriptions of food!

   I've once again read through The Real Shakespeare, with the usual delight. Particularly enjoyed the arguments 'so circular as to be positively spherical!'

   Two queries arise. 1) If Shakespeare was constantly learning from his theatrical experience, why do most of his revisions involve making the work far too long for normal Elizabethan or Jacobean performance? Or was he now revising with a different public in mind: the reader of his eternal poetry? 2) Re King John, why is the 2d version much less anti-Papal than the first? Also I don't think Shakespeare was in favour of rebellion. Victory over the Irish, yes.

   Still on the deposition. It doesn't seem to me to make sense to have written this play at all without a deposition scene, since deposition is what it is about – this is the whole point of the play. It would make sense for such a scene to have been censored out, and not unlikely, considering Elizabeth's reactions to Hayward's book. I don't think one can attach importance to the notion of its being added specifically to favour Essex's rebellion. Particularly since the killing was already dangerously present, as a consequence of the deposition. A consequence Essex later claimed had never been present in his mind.

   Word processors... I'm always in terror that mine will give out any minute, with texts locked up in it. Considering a lap-top...

   I don't quite understand your German line, last para. But that word klappert reminds me of one of the most beautiful poems I know. Hölderlin. Now I find it's a different word: Klirren.

   I attach copy of the poem.

Please, Real Shakespeare 2, soon! And good everything.

   I'm deeply enjoying summer and the daily half hour alone in my quiet pool, surrounded by an infinite variety of green.