Shakespeare and War

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Shakespeare and War

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Shakespeare and War

Edited by

Ros King and Paul J.C.M. Franssen

Shakespeare and War

This page intentionally left blank

Shakespeare and War Edited by

Ros King and

Paul J. C. M. Franssen

Selection and editorial matter © Ros King and Paul J. C. M. Franssen 2008 Individual chapters © contributors 2008 All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The authors have asserted their rights to be identified as the authors of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. First published 2008 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN Palgrave Macmillan in the UK is an imprint of Macmillan Publishers Limited, registered in England, company number 785998, of Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS. Palgrave Macmillan in the US is a division of St Martin’s Press LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010. Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companies and has companies and representatives throughout the world. Palgrave® and Macmillan® are registered trademarks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries. ISBN-13: 978–0–230–20508–6 hardback ISBN-10: 0–230–20508–9 hardback This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources. Logging, pulping and manufacturing processes are expected to conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Shakespeare and war / [edited by] Ros King and Paul J. C. M. Franssen. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0–230–20508–9 (alk. paper) 1. Shakespeare, William, 1564–1616—Political and social views. 2. War in literature. 3. Politics and literature—Great Britain—History. 4. Literature and history—Great Britain. I. King, Ros. II. Franssen, Paul, 1955– PR3017.S355 2008 2008016417 822.3 3—dc22 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham and Eastbourne

Contents List of Illustrations




Notes on the Contributors


1 War and Shakespearean Dramaturgy Ros King and Paul J. C. M. Franssen


Part I Ideas of War and Peace 2 ‘The Disciplines of War’: Elizabethan War Manuals and Shakespeare’s Tragicomic Vision Ros King


3 War in Shakespeare’s Edward III Ellen C. Caldwell


4 Shakespeare and Peace Thomas Kullmann


5 Some Social Costs of War Ruth Morse


Part II Rhetoric of War 6 Henry V and the Performance of War R. Scott Fraser 7 Drums and Roses? The Tragicomedy of War in All’s Well That Ends Well Helen Wilcox 8 Political Speech and the Wars in King John Dana Chetrinescu Percec 9 ‘Faking It’: Provenance, Persuasion and the Renaissance Military Subject Simon Barker v







Part III Translation and Adaptation 10 Religion and War in Romanian Translations of Henry V Madalina Nicolaescu 11 Shakespeare’s Coriolanus as Staged in Heiner M¨ uller’s Germania 3 Ruth Freifrau von Ledebur 12 ‘Something is Rotten . . .’ Niels B. Hansen 13 Never-ending Conflict: Man (and Woman) as Death Bearer in Testori’s Macbetto Carla Dente


138 153


Part IV War Time Interpretations 14 The Nightmare of Indifference: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 121 and the War in Former Yugoslavia Ivan Lupi´c


15 Whose ‘Triumph’? The Taming of the Shrew in Berlin during World War II Zolt´an M´arkus


16 ‘So the Falklands. So Agincourt. ‘‘Fuck the Frogs’’ ’: Michael Bogdanov’s English Shakespeare Company’s Wars of the Roses David Carnegie


17 Meditations in a Time of (Displaced) War: Henry V, Money, and the Ethics of Performing History Diana E. Henderson


Select Bibliography




List of Illustrations 12.1 Munk asks Shakespeare to write in modern Danish. ‘Kaj Munk taler med Shakespeare’, Forum, Tidsskrift for Musik og Teater, vol. 3 (March 1935), 8–10. Cartoon by Hans Bendix, reproduced with permission from the heirs to his estate. 13.1 Ledi (Luisa Rossi) and Macbetto (Franco Parenti), Giovanni Testori’s Macbetto (dir. Andr´ee Ruth Shammah; photo, Tommaso LePera), Teatro Pier Lombardo, Milan, 1974. 13.2 Macbetto (Franco Parenti), Ledi (Luisa Rossi) and the chorus (Flavio Bonacci, Pier Giorgio Plebani, Laurent Gerber, Giovanni Battezzato); Giovanni Testori’s Macbetto (dir. Andr´ee Ruth Shammah; photo, Tommaso LePera), Teatro Pier Lombardo, Milan, 1974. 14.1 Ve˘cernji list, 18 August 1991. Reproduced by kind permission of Ve˘cernji list.




176 185

Acknowledgements The original versions of the papers in this book were all written for the two seminars devoted to the theme of Shakespeare and War at the conference on Shakespeare and European Politics held in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in December 2003. We gratefully acknowledge the generous funding for this conference, and for the publications arising from it, from the universities of Ghent, Namur, and Utrecht, and from the following organisations: ACUME (the European Thematic Network for Cultural Memory in European Countries); IVT (Foreign Language Institute of the Utrecht Faculty of Arts); the Huizinga Research Institute and Graduate School of Cultural History; NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research); NSES (Netherlands Society for English Studies); OGC (Research Institute for History and Culture, Utrecht University); KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences); and the Shakespeare Society of the Low Countries.


Notes on the Contributors

Simon Barker is Professor of English Literature at the University of Gloucestershire. His publications include The Routledge Anthology of Renaissance Drama (2003), Shakespeare’s Problem Plays (2005), The Gentle Craft (2007), and War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (2007). Ellen C. Caldwell is Associate Professor of Humanities at Clarkson University. Her published work and her teaching span the social, political, and literary cultures of Early Modern Europe. David Carnegie is Professor of Theatre at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Co-editor of the Cambridge Works of John Webster, he has published widely on Early Modern dramaturgy and stagecraft, and works in professional theatre as a dramaturg on Shakespeare productions. Dana Chetrinescu Percec is a lecturer in English literature at the University of Timis¸oara, Romania. She is the author of a book on Shakespearean iconography and a volume of essays on current Romanian topics. Carla Dente is Professor of English Literature at Pisa University, and board member of the International Shakespeare Association. She has edited Dibattito sul teatro. Voci opinioni interpretazioni (2006); Conflict Zones: Actions, Languages, Mediations (2004); Proteus. The Language of Metamorphosis (2005), and the hypertext, ‘Hamlet’ Promptbooks of the Nineteenth Century (2002). Paul J. C. M. Franssen is a lecturer in British Literature at Utrecht University and specialises in Shakespeare studies. He has published widely on Shakespeare and related topics, and co-edited two volumes, The Author as Character: Representing Historical Writers in Western Literature (1999), and Shakespeare and European Politics (2008). R. Scott Fraser holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from York University in Toronto and is the Head of Drama at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He is the author of A Politic Theatre (1996). ix


Notes on the Contributors

Niels Bugge Hansen taught for 40 years at the University of Copenhagen, where Shakespeare was a core subject in his teaching and research. In 2005 he edited and contributed to Charting Shakespearean Waters, volume 5 in the ‘Angles on the English-speaking World’ series. Diana E. Henderson, Professor of Literature at MIT, is the author of Collaborations with the Past: Reshaping Shakespeare across Time and Media (2006), and Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender and Performance (1995). She is the editor of the Concise Companion to Shakespeare on Screen (2006) and Alternative Shakespeares 3 (2008). Ros King is Professor of English Studies at the University of Southampton. Her books include The Works of Richard Edwards: Politics, Poetry and Performance in Sixteenth-Century England (2001), and Cymbeline: Constructions of Britain (2005). Thomas Kullmann is Professor of English Literature at the University of Osnabr¨ uck. He researches the literature and culture of Renaissance England and English children’s literature. Publications include two books on Shakespeare and one on the nineteenth-century novel. Ruth Freifrau von Ledebur, emeritus Professor of English Literature at Siegen University, works on Shakespeare, theatre representation and politics, and the teaching of literature. Her publications include Deutsche Shakespeare-Rezeption seit 1945 (1974), and Der Mythos vom Deutschen Shakespeare: Die Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft 1918–1945 (2002). Ivan Lupi´c is a Ph.D student in English Literature at Columbia University. His book Feigning Subject: Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Their Transtextual Frames was published in Croatian in 2007. Zolt´an M´arkus, Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College, works on Early Modern English literature, European theatre, and cultural, literary, and performance theory. He is completing Shakespeares at War: Cultural Appropriations of Shakespeare in Berlin and London during World War II. Ruth Morse is Professeur des Universit´es at the University of ParisDiderot. Her books include Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages: Rhetoric, Reality, and Representation (1991). She is completing Imagined Histories: Fictions of the Past from Beowulf to Shakespeare.

Notes on the Contributors


Madalina Nicolaescu is Professor of English at the University of Bucharest. She has published widely on Renaissance Drama and on Women’s writing. Helen Wilcox is Professor of English at Bangor University, Wales. Her research ranges widely across Early Modern English literature, with interests in devotional writing, autobiography, tragicomedy and the work of women authors. She is preparing the Arden 3 edition of All’s Well That Ends Well.

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1 War and Shakespearean Dramaturgy Ros King and Paul J. C. M. Franssen

Wherefore do you so ill translate yourself Out of the speech of peace that bears such grace Into the harsh and boist’rous tongue of war, Turning your books to graves, your ink to blood, Your pens to lances, and your tongue divine To a loud trumpet and a point of war? (2 Henry IV, 4.1.47–52) Thus the Earl of Westmoreland, envoy of Prince John, to the rebel leader, the Archbishop of York. Rebellion, he says, should be dressed in wretches’ rags not the church’s white vestments of ‘innocence’. The Archbishop reposts that he has ‘justly weighed/ What wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we suffer,/And find our griefs heavier than our offences’ (4.1.67–69). His is the classic Christian argument for just war derived from St Augustine: ‘For it is the injustice of the opposing side that lays on the wise man the duty of waging wars’ (City of God, XIX.7).1 While Augustine deplores the suffering caused by war, he accepts it as an inevitable ‘mark of human wretchedness’, and a demonstration of man’s need for God; ‘social and civil wars’ are ‘wars of a worse kind’, not because they cause more suffering than any other, but because they contravene the fellowship of a defined society (City, XIX.6–7). His arguments for the concept of just war are deeply assimilated into western political thought.2 They have been repeated frequently during the time in which this book has been in preparation, as has the promise that ‘peace is the aim of war . . . it is this peace that glorious victory (so called) achieves’ (City, XV.4). As he was also aware, however, the opposite is more often true; the usually unsatisfactory provisions for peace merely generate more war. Shakespeare’s history plays, up to their hopeful conclusion 1


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at Bosworth, certainly demonstrate that miserable fact. Even the ‘glorious victory (so called)’ at the end of Henry V is followed by the reminder of the losses of Henry VI, ‘Which oft our stage hath shown’. It is perhaps significant that Shakespeare’s later plays for the Stuart court dramatise the problems associated with James’s policy for European peace in a form that revels in fantasy. The first Henry IV play had been almost playful. Hal had appeared in various disguises; one of the rebels reports scornfully that he rides to the battle of Shrewsbury in polished armour with pennons flying, as if entering the lists of a tournament. Part 2 opens with the weary aftermath of that battle. Often treated as a mere sequel to Part 1, in fact it dramatises a much darker, more problematic attitude to war. The main characters are not just older, they reflect on their age, tiredness and lost ambitions; Henry IV never manages to undertake his crusade to Jerusalem, the ultimate religiously justified war, which by the eleventh century had been presented by papal authority as the supremely effective substitute for penance.3 Bathetically, he dies in bed in the ‘Jerusalem’ chamber. The rebels in this play, while appealing to the justice of their cause, threaten continuing war down the ages if their demands are not met: ‘And heir from heir shall hold this quarrel up/ Whiles England shall have generation’ (4.2.48–9). This indiscriminate pawning of the future is shocking, and Prince John is so angered that Westmoreland has gently to remind him to stick to his plan – to agree to address their grievances and thereby trick them into discharging their soldiers so that they can be arrested and executed. This politic strategy saves thousands of lives although it brings into question the honour of his proceedings. During the middle ages, it was honour, the chivalric code, which limited the deaths of soldiers in battle, although treatment of rebels at home and infidels abroad was not covered by such considerations; always, a ‘degree of brutality in the treatment of civilians was accepted as a natural concomitant of war’.4 With the revolution in military hardware, the site of war became the besieged, fortified town, which put civilians into the front line. In England, the natural defences of the coastline, combined with attempts to subdue Ireland, and speculations about a future union with Scotland, meant that by the end of the sixteenth century, the country was already unwittingly groping toward the concept of a ‘nation-state’, with all the tensions that that implies between monarch and people, and between the various, traditionally warring races of the British Isles. Shakespeare’s plays therefore use ancient quarrels to explore more up-to-date political problems. Whether dramatising the Wars of the Roses, the struggles for monarchical independence (in Cymbeline and

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King John), or for the Roman republic, the Shakespeare plays in which war features as a direct activity and subject are centrally concerned both with the identity of the nation and the nature of the contract between ruler and people.5

Shakespeare at war George MacDonald Fraser, creator of the Flashman novels who served in Burma in World War II, is convinced that the ordinary soldier can have insights about Shakespeare and war that elude literary critics. MacDonald had ordered books from home, including Henry V, which he had studied at school and for which he had developed a ‘deep affection’. Lying on his groundsheet one day he was approached by his sergeant who picked the play up, flipped through it with some scorn, but nevertheless walked off with it. Returning it a few days later, Sergeant Hutton asked him: ‘Was Shakspeer ivver in th’Army?’ Frazer replied that most scholars thought not, but Hutton was not convinced: ‘Ye knaw them three – Bates, an’ them, talking afore the battle? Ye doan’t git that frae lissening’ in pubs, son. Naw. ’e’s bin theer . . . An’ them oothers – the Frenchmen, the nawblemen, tryin to kid on that they couldn’t care less, w’en they’re shittin’ blue lights? Girraway! . . . ‘‘There’s nut many dies weel that dies in a battle’’. By Christ, ’e’s reet there. It’s a good bit that.’6 Whether or not Shakespeare really ever saw war at first hand, he cannot but have heard, seen, and read about its effects. There was a war being fought somewhere in Europe during virtually every year of Shakespeare’s lifetime, and for all but a mere fourteen separate years between 1500 and 1700. Elizabeth I may have occupied the throne of England for fortyfive years – longer than any other British monarch except Victoria and Elizabeth II – but longevity is not the same as security. The threat of war and invasion was constant throughout her reign, reaching a peak in 1588 with the Armada, and again in 1599, the year in which the Folio versions of Henry V and Hamlet were probably written. The 1580s and 90s saw English soldiers in official engagement in Ireland, in the wars of religion in France, and in the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule; English mercenaries were employed even more widely, and on all sides. Theoretical and practical manuals on warfare, which included copies of the standing orders issued by both English and Spanish armies in the Netherlands, and pamphlets on the interminable civil war in France were pouring off the presses, some detailing the massacres of civilians. Disillusioned and quarrelsome soldiers returning from the wars in France and the Netherlands constituted a public nuisance put down by a series of royal


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proclamations in the 1580s.7 In these circumstances it is not surprising that the majority of Shakespeare’s plays have military backgrounds. Even the comedies – All’s Well, The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream – use war as both backdrop and analogue to their ostensible subject. Since war is the most terrible of human activities, it is difficult to acknowledge that it can be experienced in real life, and presented in play form, on all points of the scale from terror to farce. What marks out Shakespeare as a writer on war is that he recognises this and regularly presents contrasting states simultaneously. As a number of contributors to this volume demonstrate, Shakespeare’s use of mixed genre in defiance of the literary theory of his time both injects a grass-roots reality of human experience and constructs a safe place for a satirical look at the state of England. These plays provide us with the entire gamut of possible reactions to war but never simply as human interest or simplistically as heroics. As one recent commentator on the reporting of war has remarked, ‘Human interest reporting is not enough. Who benefits from letting war happen, which groups expect to suffer most and which least while the fighting is under way, who manages to do best from victory or defeat – these are political issues.’8 Shakespeare is aware of such responsibilities. Egeon in The Comedy of Errors and Antonio in Twelfth Night are in danger of execution merely because, as representatives of foreign countries and former wars, they come from the wrong place at the wrong time. Both plays bring them face to face with the political causes of their distress, Dukes Solinus and Orsino, respectively. These dukes do not make U-turns on policy although they do exercise clemency to Egeon and Antonio as individuals. Both plays therefore leave us, even in their happy endings, with a strong sense of unease. What is someone who is arbitrarily prepared to kill the thing he loves, like Orsino, but a tyrant? If a king is the husband of his people, as James I claimed in his first speech to the English parliament,9 what is he doing putting them in harm’s way, leading them into battle?

Shakespeare and twentieth-century propaganda Shakespeare, however, has too often been used for pro-war propaganda. By the mid twentieth century, nearly two hundred years of thinking about him as national ‘bard’ meant that even fictions of his life could be enlisted in the national service.10 On Saturday 13 June 1940, ten months into the Second World War, the BBC Home Service broadcast a radio

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adaptation of Clemence Dane’s stage play Will Shakespeare (1922), about Shakespeare’s conversion from philandering husband to self-conscious artist aware of his national calling in times of colonial expansion and growing conflict.11 Shakespeare is torn between his long-suffering wife Anne, his lover Mary Fitton, and his sovereign, Queen Elizabeth, who, in the climax of the play, enlists him as the national poet. For that, however, he will have to give up all other ties: the state takes precedence over his marital duty to his wife and over the dubious pleasures of extra-marital affairs. None of the listeners in 1940 would have missed the implications for themselves of Elizabeth’s call for self-sacrifice. Punch had painted a rather different Shakespeare in a satirical sketch published only a few months earlier, on the day after the German invasion of Norway and Denmark brought an end to the ‘phoney war’. It consisted of a dialogue between Mr and Mrs Shakespeare about the pros and cons of Shakespeare joining the navy to help defeat the Armada. Mrs Shakespeare fails to understand why Drake, with his ‘imperialistic wars’, cannot leave the Spaniards alone, and does not believe that the country would be worse off under Spanish rule. Her husband thinks the experience of service might give him something to write about, but hesitates whether he is morally entitled to hazard his genius to the fortunes of war: ‘Suppose that I am killed by a cannonball, and all my plays perish with me!’ When he has finally decided to report to Drake the next morning, news is brought of the defeat of the Armada. The sketch ends on Shakespeare’s disappointed exclamation: ‘Damn!’12 Either way, whether Shakespeare’s person is mocked as a ditherer or elevated as a national icon, his very name had become closely tied to war propaganda. Nor is this an exclusively British phenomenon. The various contributors to this volume demonstrate that Shakespeare was pressed into service in both the pro- and anti-fascist cause in pre-war Denmark and Germany. Brecht’s adaptations influenced countless productions of Julius Caesar and Coriolanus in Britain, costumed in Nazi uniform as expressions of anti-militarism. The Nazis themselves preferred the comedies, although they revised The Merchant of Venice to get ‘rid of the ‘‘mixed’’ marriage of Lorenzo and Jessica’, in line with their policy on the Jews.13 After the war, Shakespeare was pressed into service as a cold warrior.14 A leaflet issued by the Dutch right-wing organisation OSL likened Claudius pouring poison into his sleeping brother’s ear to the dangers of Communist propaganda. Shakespeare’s texts were also translated and performed beyond the iron curtain to serve contrasting political agendas. Yet in more recent years, adaptations such as Peter Zadek’s Held Henry, Tom Lanoye’s Ten Oorlog, and Julie Taymor’s Titus


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have developed hints in Shakespeare’s work to deconstruct notions of heroism and the worship of violence.15

Reading Shakespeare on war In the face of such vehemently contested meanings, how should we read Shakespeare’s graphic writing on war? Rather than merely adopting a post-modern equanimity that claims Shakespeare does not mean but that we ‘mean by Shakespeare’,16 the contributors to this volume believe that it is important to demonstrate how the production of meaning takes place. Our objective has therefore been to distinguish between the texts that Shakespeare read and utilised in the writing of his histories, the possible significances that his plays would have carried under the political and historical conditions at the time he was writing, and the manner in which they have been rewritten, reshaped and re-presented to promote or critique the political and historical conditions of later ages. We wanted to keep clear in our minds the different levels of historical writing, story telling and political spin at all stages of the invention, transmission and reinvention of the plays that go under the shorthand name of ‘Shakespeare’. An early decision was therefore made to avoid the use of the fashionable critical term ‘appropriation’ as having too flattening an effect to describe this process fully.17 Ironically, the more common usage of that word is in a military context: the requisitioning of buildings and equipment by an army. In that case, the thing appropriated retains its essential structure while being pressed into new – even enemy – use. When Shakespeare’s plays are reused to serve particular political ends, however, they are invariably rewritten, cut down, or else extracted and taken out of context, so that their ethical complexity, which is the very aspect which excites and encourages repeated reading and performance, is reduced to moral, instructional certainty. With an estimated forty-one ongoing conflicts in the world today18 it is unsurprising that Shakespeare’s plays continue to be given contemporary meanings and significances. This book is about that phenomenon. It explores the cultural context that informed the writing of these plays and the processes whereby they have been reworked, translated, and interpreted to speak to later conflicts. We are therefore paying close attention to the way Shakespeare’s language works dramaturgically. For example, partly because of the practical difficulty of representing a pitched battle with ‘four or five most vile and ragged foils’ (Henry V, 4.0.50), Shakespeare uses description as a way of avoiding having to stage acts of war. More interestingly, description can be used to create a conflict

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between what is heard and what is seen that can make us question the veracity or legitimacy of the problem set before us. The wounds of the bloody soldier at the beginning of Macbeth are ‘real’; we see them bring him close to collapse by the end of a speech in which he describes, with an admiration that is both inflated and also sanitised, the even worse wounds that Macbeth has inflicted on his enemy: ‘he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chaps,/ And fixed his head upon our battlements’ (Macbeth, 1.2.21–2). This neat, bloodless unpicking of the way the body is stitched together, separating it into its constituent parts so that it also becomes ‘unseemed’ – unlike itself visually – is of course the way in which wars are usually reported so as to maintain support at home, except that the wounded, being too graphic a reminder of the cruelty and injustice of even the most justified war, are usually kept out of the limelight and not, as here, made the principal messengers. The presence of the ‘bloody man’ gives visual expression to the story he tells: a glorification of gore that purports to be a memorial for all the sacrifices and executions in the history of the world, ‘to bathe in reeking wounds or memorize another Golgotha’. But Golgotha, the place of Christ’s crucifixion, was already the ‘place of the skull’, reputedly ‘memorising’ the burial of Adam. The play’s use of the term is therefore excessive, even blasphemous. The nature of the reality of the stage blood we see, the stylised and mythologised wounds we hear about, and those we imagine, together set up a question that will be a recurring theme in the play: at what point does heroic slaughter become grotesque butchery? Criticism of Shakespeare, being historically a literary act, has often blurred the distinction between ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’, reducing both to ‘reading’. The critic’s literary imagination has tended to take all descriptions whether of an offstage or an onstage event as of equal value. The audience, on the other hand, is having both its auditory and its visual senses engaged simultaneously. And what we hear and see may be structured so as to enable us to question what we merely hear or see. Posthumus’s retelling of the battle in Cymbeline to the foppish lord who had run away, and who wants to be told a heroic tale of derring-do, is violent, even sodomitical in its language, in contrast to the formalised passages of armies over the stage described in the stage directions. At one point Posthumus resorts to ludicrous doggerel and vents his anger verbally, and perhaps also physically, on the lord not so much for running away but, apparently, for putting him to rhyme! The lord is terrified and runs away again.19 The contrast between what we see and hear in the speech, and between the speech and the conduct of the war in other scenes in the play, is deeply unsettling. Such dislocation reminds us that


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histories are unreliable, and yet that we need to retell these stories again and again in ways that raise questions that help us understand ourselves.

Henry V It is perhaps inevitable that in any collection of essays on Shakespeare and war there should be a number devoted to Henry V. But the range of angles on this play included here are complementary and, both separately and together, indicate a way of reading dramaturgically: one that is historically rigorous, while answering the demands of the present; and one that remembers it is dealing with writing intended for performance. Exploring the ways in which the same historical material has been presented in different times and different countries as commentary on, or product of, particular social, geographical and historical situations, we can appreciate more fully the fruitful ambivalences in Shakespeare’s language and reflect on the motives of those that have sought to reduce these to political certainties. All the essays agree that meaning resides in writing. A translation that chooses one word rather than another, a production that cuts or rearranges text, a piece of criticism that takes a speech out of context, all alter what it is possible to think about a play. The various essays on Henry V in this book together propose a way of reading across time so that the absence of a passage in one version draws attention to its presence in another and requires us to consider its function. It is important that this multivalent approach be devoted in such extended fashion to Henry V because although the ubiquity of Olivier’s film means that this is the history play that most people know best, the visual seductiveness of that film has also ensured that the play as printed is something we know least. The film’s literally picturesque cinematography, in which idealised medieval painted landscapes, based on Les Tr`es Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, dissolve into a heritage London or a green landscape standing in for France (it was of course Ireland), is combined with a succession of strategic textual cuts. This was Olivier’s way of creating a heroic Henry in whom he could believe, rather than the brutal warmonger he considered him to be – an opinion which was not merely modern, since Hazlitt too regarded Henry as a monster.20 So powerful is that film’s visual effect, superbly intensified by William Walton’s score, that in a real sense that film became the play – to the extent that Branagh’s remake was as much a version of Olivier as it was of Shakespeare. Olivier’s film, produced to celebrate an idea and an ideal of Britain, thus also came to signify an (anachronistic) idea of Shakespeare’s own patriotism. Using Shakespeare’s identity as ‘national

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poet’ as an excuse, Henry’s rousing speeches to the troops were thus, in the late 1980s, even enlisted by British Conservative politicians to rally support for unpopular domestic moves like the raising of interest rates. In the last twenty years, a small but cogent body of work has detailed the extent to which Shakespeare understood and utilised contemporary thinking on the philosophy, technology, strategy and legality of war.21 But none of this work compares the use of war in Shakespeare with the ways in which later ages have utilised Shakespeare in war. The international lawyer Theodor Meron, for instance, has demonstrated the law governing the prosecution of the Hundred Years War and shows the extent to which late medieval concepts of the just war, and laws governing truce or armistice and the treatment of prisoners underpin United Nations resolutions. While Meron’s book is invaluable for understanding the presence of these concepts within the language of Shakespeare’s Henry V, it does not explore the mechanisms whereby that language operates and therefore the respective values that might be attached to the concepts. For example, patriotic readings of the play have invariably cut or suppressed the gruesome speech that Henry makes before Harfleur, threatening rape, pillage and the murder of infants. Many recent critics have accordingly seized on that speech in particular (plus the Chorus’s reference to Essex in Ireland) in an attempt to prove that the play as written is jingoistic and unsuitable for a post-colonial age. The point at which invading soldiers and local civilians come face to face is, however, always fraught with the likelihood of atrocity, no matter the justice of the war itself. This is rarely acknowledged. It is not just that history is written by the victors, or that the dead do not talk, but that certain types of degradation are generally covered up by those who suffer and survive. Diaries written by an anonymous German woman during the fall of Berlin, recounting the multiple rapes of so many of her compatriots by Soviet soldiers, were greeted with disgust when they were published in Germany in 1945 and have only recently been republished. Writing about the return of men from war, the author explains ‘they loved to tell their stories which always involved exploits that showed them in a good light. We on the other hand will have to keep politely mum; each one of us will have to act as if she in particular was spared. Otherwise no man is going to want to touch us any more.’22 These plays show an awareness of the ubiquitous truth of such situations, which we refuse to acknowledge because to do so is to call into question the very possibility of the concept of justice in war. This is why we have chosen to put The Sentry by Carel Fabritius (1622–54) on


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the cover of this book. The human vulnerability of the sleeping soldier, his faithful alert dog, a glimpse of the legs of another sentry walking the walls, the truncated bas-relief of St Antony Abbott, selfless patron of pigs and skin diseases, and the strangely realistic yet architecturally impossible setting, combine in a moving vision of both the duty and the dereliction of war which, like Shakespeare’s plays, throws the search for meaning back at the viewer. Now, with Britain and America again controversially involved in overseas war, and with a narrow reading (therefore a gross misreading) of Henry V again sometimes enlisted in support, it is appropriate that this book explores that text in multiple ways. The different but complementary voices writing on this play in this book, exploring the way in which Shakespeare made it out of the materials available to him, and the ways it has been remade ever since in writing, performance and allusion are not just talking about that play but constructing a methodology for understanding the ways in which we have used, and continue to use, ideas about Shakespeare for particular ends. It is to be hoped that other books focusing on other topics and other plays will find it a useful model.

Notes 1. St Augustine, City of God, tr. Henry Bettenson (Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1972), 860–2. 2. See Holmes. 3. Helen Nicholson, Medieval Warfare (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 26–7, 23–38. 4. Norman Housley, ‘European Warfare, c.1200–1320’, in Keen 133–4. 5. See Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 6. George MacDonald Fraser, Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma (London: Harper Collins, Harvill, 1992), 128–30. 7. They were quarrelsome because they were often unpaid, and dumped at the ports without the means to get home. Modern psychology suggests that many of them may also have been quarrelsome because of the trauma they had experienced. 8. Jonathan Steele, ‘Correspondents’ course’, Guardian 20.03.04. 9. McIlwain, 272. 10. See Michael Dobson, The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660–1769 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992). 11. Clemence Dane [pseudonym Winifred Ashton], Will Shakespeare: An Invention in Four Acts (New York: Macmillan, 1922). The radio production was produced by Barbara Burnham; a typescript remains at Birmingham University Library.

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12. A. P. H., ‘Little Talks,’ Punch 10.04.1940, 390–9. 13. Peter Smith, Social Shakespeare (London: Macmillan, 1995), 153. 14. Dennis Kennedy, ‘Shakespeare and the Cold War,’ in Four Hundred Years of Shakespeare in Europe, ed. A. Luis Pujante and Ton Hoenselaars (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2003), 163–79. 15. See for example, Peter Zadek and James Leverett, ‘Radical Stagings of Shakespeare’, Performing Arts Journal 4.3 (1980), 106–21. 16. Terence Hawkes, Meaning by Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 1992). 17. See Jean I. Marsden (ed.), The Appropriation of Shakespeare (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991); and Alan Sinfield, ‘Against Appropriation’, Essays in Criticism 31 (1981), 181–95. 18. See the US defence think-tank website, accessed 20.04.2007. 19. King, 96–8. 20. William Hazlitt, essay on Henry V in Characters of Shakespear’s Plays (1817), cited by Richard Levin, ‘Hazlitt on Henry V, and the Appropriation of Shakespeare’, Shakespeare Quarterly 35.2 (Summer, 1984), 134–41; 137. 21. Courtney; Meron (1993; 1998); Taunton; and de Somogyi. 22. Anonymous, A Woman in Berlin (London: Virago, 2005), 176.

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Part I Ideas of War and Peace

‘Your discipline in war, wisdom in peace’ (Richard III, 3.7.16)

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2 ‘The Disciplines of War’: Elizabethan War Manuals and Shakespeare’s Tragicomic Vision1 Ros King

FLUELLEN: Captain Macmorris, when there is more better opportunities to be required, look you, I will be so bold as to tell you, I know the disciplines of war – and there is an end. [Exeunt.] (Henry V, 3.3.80–3) A Welshman and an Irishman violently disagree about the strategic objectives of an English army as it lays siege to Harfleur in support of the English king’s claim to the throne of France. These convoluted international circumstances still retain their explosive resonance. Setting out the ‘disciplines of war’ as expressed in the deluge of war manuals that poured off the presses in London at the end of the sixteenth century is therefore evidently not the end, although it is a start. Those books included editions and translations of classical literature and war manuals, treatises on fortification and weapons handling, as well as accounts of the causes and progress of contemporary conflicts. All have a political agenda, preparing the English, both practically and emotionally, for war, whether in defence of their country’s boundaries or as support for the Protestant cause abroad.2 As with any instructional or non-fiction works in this period, there is a good deal of overlap between different manuals, with sections transferred verbatim from one book to the next. Some evidently derive from collections of mixed papers. Thomas Styward’s The Pathway to Martiall Discipline (1581), for instance, includes a set of orders for the Spanish army, which would have been in use in the Netherlands, excitingly advertised on the title page as having been discovered in a castle in Ireland that had previously been in the occupation of Spanish and Italian forces. Thomas Digges’s Stratioticos (1590) comprises a work of his 15


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father’s on mathematics, extended to include a consideration of the algebra necessary for a soldier; a dissertation on artillery and pyrotechnics; and standing orders, both from the French and Spanish armies, and from Leicester’s forces in the Netherlands. One handbook in particular, however, William Garrard’s The Art of Warre (1591), perhaps constitutes a significant source for characterisation and situation in plays as diverse as Henry V, All’s Well, and Othello. Garrard, a mercenary who had fought in the Spanish army for fourteen years, is usually open – and courteously complimentary – about his borrowings from previous experts in the field. These include Styward’s descriptions of military ranks and infantry tactics; a slightly longer version of the Spanish orders; Guillaume de Bellay on fortification and encampment; Bernadin Rocca on the law of siege warfare; and Digges on the appliance of mathematics. Garrard thus conveniently supplies most of the material that Shakespeare would have needed to create convincing impressions of the military life.3 But Shakespeare does more than merely incorporate information. He transforms it, repeatedly turning a single word or image from the manual into an entire characterisation. Nick de Somogyi has shown that the name Parolles and the wonderfully comic scene in which that particular wordsmith gets his come-uppance in a feast of invented languages as he tries to retrieve his drum, comically subverts Garrard’s person specification for drummers who are ‘oftentimes sent on messages, importing charge, which of necessitie require languages’ (Garrard, 51).4 Similarly, although the state of Corporal Bardolph’s nose is due to drink, the fire that is said to burn in it throughout Henry IV and Henry V seems to derive from Garrard’s instruction that a corporal must ‘make prouision of wood or coles, that he may alwaies haue fire burning in his corps of gard, aswel in the day as in the night, and aswel in the summer as in the winter: w[i]t[h]out which he ought neuer to keep watch, because it is a most necessary munition for the Hargubusiers, to light their match withal . . . ’ (Garrard, 26). Elsewhere, Fluellen is shown enthusiastically ordering soldiers up to the breach, even beating them, which Garrard says should not be necessary, but he refuses a command to go to the mines on the grounds that they have not been constructed according to ‘the disciplines of the war’; the ‘concavities of it is not sufficient’ (3.3.4–8). The distinctive word ‘concavities’, which lends itself to being spoken with a Welsh accent, seems inspired by Garrard’s explanation that insufficient height given to the ‘Caue or vaute’ results in the force of the blast being dissipated sideways (Garrard, 298). In all cases, Shakespeare comically undercuts the military ideal.

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Ranks and duties: ensigns Pistol and Iago The listing of military ranks is a conventional and ancient feature of war manuals. Garrard’s version of this often takes its details verbatim from Styward, but it is structured very differently. Styward deals with all of the ranks in the first of his three books, beginning with the General and working downward, and devoting his remaining two books to aspects of strategy. Garrard begins with the soldiery and works upwards over the entire course of his six books, incorporating along the way the different aspects of military activity that would be appropriate to each rank. It is not until book 5 that he considers that most vital of senior officers, the Master of Ordinance. As always, this person needs to be ‘learned in auncient and moderne hystories’ but the so-called military revolution occasioned by the introduction of gunpowder and the resulting developments in the art of fortification also required knowledge of science and technology:5 Hee must likewise have exquisite knowledge in the Mathematicals, considering thereby he shall be able, certainly to shoote, at all randons [i.e. randams, disturbances], to conuey Mynes vnder earth, to any Curtine, Bulwarke, or other place, that hee determines by violence of powder to rent in pieces. To make a coniecture & forecast, what quantitie of shotte, powder, etc. shall be requisite to serue the Campe, to suffise a battery, myne, or any other exployt. To sette out in due proportion every particular fortification, of Campe, Towne or Fort, where Ordenaunce is to be vsed, which cannot possibly without knowledge in these Sciences be sufficiently discharged. (Garrard, 281) In defending the star-shaped Venetian fortresses on Cyprus with their immensely thick bastions for absorbing the shock of artillery, and their complexes of gun emplacements, Othello has much more need for his lieutenant, his second in command, to be ‘an arithmetician’, as Cassio is reported to be, than yet another officer who can ‘set a squadron in the field’. But from the point of view of the passed-over Iago, the job has gone to someone who has missed out on books 2, 3, and 4 of the training. Iago, on the other hand, who has fought beside Othello ‘At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds’, and whose bravery and apparent trustworthiness have been so often demonstrated, would indeed, according to Garrard’s criteria, appear the ideal choice for ensign or ancient, the fourth rank after private soldier, corporal and


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sergeant (Othello 1.1.18–28). This officer must be someone of absolute trust and bravery since it is his task to carry the colours that the troops will follow into battle. He is literally the bearer of the honour of the regiment and occupies the most conspicuous and dangerous position. Ancient Pistol, therefore, might now rather deserve our sympathy. His sudden outbursts of violence in the plays in which he appears, his bragadocchio and doubtfully successful sexual predations, his language studded with vainglorious accounts of deadly encounters (many of them culled from popular literature) are also the symptoms exhibited by those suffering from shell shock, post-traumatic stress disorder – or whatever clinical term is coined for those whose life and psyche have been blighted by combat.6 This was not a condition that was invented in the First World War. Its symptoms are displayed in many of the war veterans that populate late Elizabethan drama, and may account for much of the violence that we know attended the return of soldiers from the French wars throughout the 1580s. If Pistol really had undertaken the role of ‘ancient’ or ensign, he might well be suffering post-traumatic shock. Garrard has an extremely lengthy description of this important position. Significantly, and ironically for both Henry V and Othello, the ensign should be the ‘conserver’ of the ‘generall reputation of all the band’. He must be ‘indowed with such custome, and vse himselfe with such courtesie and ciuilitie, that he may not onely procure the love of his confederates, and friends, but of all the entire companie’. Finally he must be ‘a man skilfull, hardy, and couragious, of able courage to aduance and beare up the Ensigne in all extremities, secret, silent, and zealous, able often to comfort, animate and enc[o]urage the company to take in hand, and maintaine such extremities, [and] enterprises, as they are appointed unto’ (Garrard, 62–8). Iago plays this part to the utmost, although as a darkly reversed shadow of Garrard’s model. Skilful, secret and zealous, he has the love and trust of every member of the garrison with the exception of his wife, who yet will do anything for him. We see him giving comfort to Desdemona, advising Cassio on the means to recover his ‘reputation’, while urging, animating and encouraging a succession of characters from Roderigo to Othello in the tasks to which, unbeknown to them, he has appointed them. While fulfilling every one of Garrard’s injunctions for good military governance, his sole objective is, again, a private grievance for which he needs to subvert the discipline of the camp. He begins by arranging the drunkenness and brawl on the court of guard – both cardinal offences in any military handbook

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from any period. Then his point of view begins to make its mark within Othello’s choice of language. In Venice, Othello had managed an easy balance in every speech between his love for Desdemona and his public duty. Once Iago gets to work introducing his prejudices about Venetian women, racism, ageism and the rest, Othello’s confidence in himself crumbles and he abandons those military markers that had punctuated and ordered his life. The result is total negation of self and a repeated reference to himself in the third person: ‘Farewell the tranquil mind . . . Farewell the plumed troops, and the big wars . . . Othello’s occupation’s gone’ (3.3.352–62).7 In just the previous scene, on the morning after his arrival in Cyprus, Othello had gone to inspect the defences (‘This fortification, gentlemen – shall we see’t ?’ 3.2.5), acting exactly by the book: when a Captaine doth enter into Garrison, hee must goe twise or thrise about the Towne, both within and without the walles, to behold and discerne where the Enemie might most endomage, as well by scalade as by batterie, and diuers time thorowly consider of the same, and use requisite fortifications, wyth repayres, bulwarks, Bastillions, Caualieres, Casemates Counterscarpes, Countergardes, halfe Moones, Trenches, Mounts, etc ayded therein by the industry of good Ingeniours [engineers]. (Garard, 319) The corresponding scene in Othello is very short: just six lines. If we accept that Shakespeare’s unit of construction is the scene rather than the act, it is numerically, by scene count, exactly in the centre of the play. It is certainly pivotal dramaturgically, for it is the last military duty we see him perform. Thereafter, scene by tortuously long scene, he slowly succumbs to Iago’s view of the world. Physical control ultimately deserts him in a welter of words for dislocated body parts, ‘noses, ears, and lips’. The collapse is total because it is so completely internalised. More devastating than Iago’s prosaic, spur of the moment diagnosis of ‘epilepsy’, the enemy has entered within his very walls and laid him waste (4.1.34–48).

Classical precedent and sixteenth-century practice It is commonplace for military historians to regard most late sixteenthcentury English war manuals as having been produced for the armchair general rather than the soldier in the field, partly because many seem too big and bulky to be taken easily on campaign, and partly perhaps


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because of their insistence on classical practices. Garrard regularly cites Roman military organisation, although he does on at least one occasion observe that changes in armaments since Roman times have necessitated a change in strategy: Therefore those that otherwise would vse it, doe ground their opinion vpon some ancient order of the Romaines or Grecians, wherein they are deceiued, because at this day we are constrained to varie our order, considering our armes be varied, which do now fetch and wound much more and further off, and are more pearcing then those of antient time. (Garrard, 64) Varying the order could indeed be sometimes very productive. William Louis of Nassau, who had just been reading Aelian’s description of Roman drill, wrote to his cousin Maurice on 8 December 1594, outlining the technique of volley firing that would quickly revolutionise military tactics, and arguing that ‘six rotating ranks of musketeers could replicate the continuous hail of fire achieved by the javelin and sling-shot throwers of the Legions’.8 Tensions between convention, up-to-the-minute best practice, and the common sense of individual experience are everywhere apparent in both theory and practice, but usually, when Fluellen talks about the ‘disciplines of war’, he is referring to the classics. He disparages the competence of the Irishman, Captain Macmorris on the grounds that ‘he has no more directions in the true disciplines of the wars, look you – of the Roman disciplines – than is a puppy-dog’ (3.3.16–18). The joke here may have been compounded for sixteenth-century audiences who would have been unlikely to dismiss the military prowess of the Irish quite so readily – although ‘discipline’ would equally have had little part in their beliefs in Irish wildness. For his part, Macmorris is angry both because the retreat has been sounded – ‘I would have blowed up the town, so Crish save me law, in an hour. O, tish ill done, tish ill done’ – and because of Fluellen’s tendency to stand around and ‘discourse’ irrelevantly about ancient history (3.3.35–49). Rhetoric well used, however, is perhaps the most important of all the weapons of war – as Garrard recognises – for without rhetorical persuasion, few people would bring themselves to ‘Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood, . . . Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage’ and submit to killing and being killed (Henry V, 3.1.6–8). Henry, as a character in this play, is a master in the art, and his speeches in the thick

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of battle at Harfleur and before Agincourt have been quoted by leaders great and small down the ages. But there is a fine line, partly dependent on context, between morale boosting and rabble rousing. Fluellen tells us that he saw Pistol at the bridge, ‘as valiant a man as Mark Antony . . . I did see him do as gallant service’ (Henry V, 3.6.10–15). Later, after Pistol has approached him in the most violently verbose language to demand Bardolph’s release, in a subversion of military discipline, he becomes confused: ‘I’ll assure you, a uttered as prave words at the pridge as you shall see in a summer’s day’. What he thought he saw seems to be a construction of what he heard, and Gower, who now realises that he knows Pistol of old, observes that ‘such fellows’, adept in ‘the phrase of war, which they trick up with new-tuned oaths’, are the ‘slanders of the age’ (3.6. 20–82). The next time we see Fluellen, however, in camp on the night before Agincourt, he has become equally exercised by the military need to keep silence. After Gower shouts to catch his attention, Fluellen complains: ‘If you would take the pains but to examine the wars of Pompey the Great, you shall find, I warrant you, that there is no tiddle-taddle nor pibblebabble in Pompey’s camp’ (4.1.69–72). He is obeying both historical and commonsense rules. Sound travels at night, and a noisy camp is both unwatchful and unrested. As Garrard puts it, the soldier must: be circumspect, that in the body of the watch a solemne secrete silence be kept, without singing, brawling, or any rumour or noise, and specially in the night, both in respect of the enimie, to heare when the Alarme is giuen, and to the intent that those which rest & sleepe, and are not yet in Sentinel, may be the more apt to resist & apply themselues to these factions & exercises, which are required of them with vigilant watchfulnes . . . (Garrard, 29) Fluellen’s concern is funny in performance, however, because of the excessive number of words he uses to make the point. Between his reference to ancient authority, his Welsh usage (‘I warrant you’), his copiousness (giving three examples where one would be more than enough), and his desire always to have the last word, his legitimate request for silence itself becomes twenty lines of ‘tiddle-taddle’ and ‘pibble-babble’. Dangerously, he flouts the very rule he invokes. Henry, however, who is eavesdropping in disguise, judges him only by his wellmeaning intentions, and objects on grounds of rhetorical style rather than military stupidity: ‘Though it appear a little out of fashion, / There is much care and valour in this Welshman’ (4.1.83–4). He has just


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been similarly indulgent with Pistol but he then immediately bumps into John Bates, Michael Williams and Alexander Court, perhaps the most convincing and sympathetic of all the ordinary working people in Shakespeare.

‘Just war’ and Shakespeare’s dramaturgy The nature and positioning of these three encounters is significant. It is not the business of a manual writer like Garrard to discourse on the nature and morality of war itself, merely to provide for its efficient prosecution. But in its continual and varied subversions of the military ‘disciplines’, Shakespeare’s dramaturgy allows space for just such questions. If we have just been laughing at Pistol’s and Fluellen’s use of language and their incompetence at waging war, we are in a better frame of mind to appreciate Williams’s scepticism at the disguised Henry’s defence of his war. Williams expresses doubt about the validity of the king’s cause, his right to go to war (the jus ad bellum), and fears that guilt must attach to anyone and everyone fighting in an unjust cause. He then dwells on the thoughts that are invariably uppermost in any soldier’s mind the night before a battle – the responsibilities he leaves behind him; his wife and children left without support; and his debts – concluding ‘there are few die well that die in a battle’. In this he goes further than the normal concerns of jus in bello and the injunction against taking ‘innocent’ life amongst the enemy, arguing that the deaths of ordinary soldiers will inevitably cause loss and extreme hardship to innocents at home, ‘for how can they charitably dispose of anything, when blood is their argument?’ Not dying well (not dying in a right cause) must be the king’s fault since a subject has no right to disobey: ‘Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it – who to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.’ Henry, however, subtly twists his words, picking up on ‘dying well’, in the sense of ‘shriven’, and the word ‘debt’, which can mean sin (see the version of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 7.12) but is also part of the play’s language of money.9 He turns Williams’s concern about responsibility to the living to a lengthy disquisition on individual sin: ‘no king, be his cause never so spotless . . . can try it out with all unspotted soldiers’, concluding that ‘every subject’s soul is his own’ and that every soldier should take the steps to salvation that he would take were he dying at home in his bed (4.1.133–84).

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Williams has actually begun tentatively to advance the argument that if the damage to innocents is immoral, and since war cannot avoid causing such damage, it should be avoided.10 He knows that the stranger has not satisfactorily answered his basic objection to war, but he knows too that the stranger’s speech is irrefutable on its own terms: ‘Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill upon his own head. The king is not to answer it.’ But that was not his point and he cannot quite put his finger on how that point has been so deflected. Bates then jumps in to the king’s defence with ‘I do not desire he should answer for me, and yet I determine to fight lustily for him’ (4.1.185–8). Developing a cue in the Quarto version of the play, some modern editions, notably Oxford, combine Williams’s and Bates’s single sentences at this point into one speech and give it to Bates.11 This destroys Williams’s sense of dissatisfaction and therefore removes Shakespeare’s dramaturgical critique of Henry’s rhetoric. Williams now expresses his distrust of the king’s promise that he will not allow himself to be ransomed. His doubt is quite justifiable. In a medieval battle, noblemen were taken captive because they could be ransomed; ordinary soldiers represented no financial advantage to their captors and were often killed.12 Some productions, anticipating the end of the scene, have made Williams extremely angry, even violent here,13 which also has the effect of removing sympathy from his point of view. But then the disguised king slightly overplays his hand. He promises that if Henry is ransomed he will never trust the king’s word afterwards. We, who are in his confidence and by virtue of that dramaturgy inevitably seeing things at least partly from his point of view, will be amused whether or not we believe him and his cause. But we also see that it is a ridiculous claim for Henry in his guise as a mere ‘gentleman of a company’ to be making. As Williams points out: ‘That’s a perilous shot out of an elder-gun, that a poor and a private displeasure can do against a monarch’ (4.1.40, 196–8). Indeed, as a result of the king’s disguise and at his direction, the rest of the Fluellen and Williams part of the plot is given over to the giving and settling of a ‘private displeasure’ – something about which the manual writers have very stern things to say. Williams’s halting attempt to question the philosophy of just war is thus reduced by Henry to a personal grievance in contravention of the disciplines of war, which is then concluded by a trick. Later, when this comes out in the open, he is paid off: Henry fills his glove with crowns and Fluellen, perhaps in lordly emulation, perhaps in slight embarrassment, offers him twelve pence to mend his shoes (4.8.58–72). Whether or not he accepts is


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a production choice, but the ethical question he has posed is never answered. The oft commented upon discrepancies between the story as anticipated by the play’s Chorus and the events actually presented are thus amplified in the gaps between the characters’ understanding of each other and their conflicting moral imperatives. The Chorus has admiringly presented us with a ‘little touch of Harry in the night’ (4.0.47). Garrard confirms that this would indeed be good practice – but only if the soldiers knew who it was who was speaking to them: ‘it is necessary that the Captayne Generall, doe sometimes ryde by night about the Campe, and admonish the watch that they remaine ready and vigilant, since that in the eies and eares of so fewe, the health & sauegarde of all the Campe doth consist’ (343). Henry’s actions, by contrast, are reminiscent of Plutarch’s Mark Antony, who would go ‘disguised like a slave in the night . . . peere into poor men’s windowes . . . and brawle with them’,14 and carry something of the same sense of moral unease. It is Styward’s manual that supplies a model oration for captains to use before a battle, which in its Christian faith in salvation, resembles not so much the Crispin’s-day speech Henry gives to the entire army, as that which he makes as a mere ‘gentleman of a company’ to Williams, Bates and Court: Then since by the King our Maister and Gouernour, we are appointed and procured to come to this warre, I haue determined my most louing Companions and fellow Souldiers to enter in battell, and valiantlie to aduenture my life with you: and if I perish therein, I shall be sure it shall be for the saluation of my soule, and the memorie of my person, for to die through Justice is not to die but to change death for life . . . For to a Prince it were great infamie and dishonour, the quarrel being his owne, should by the bloud of others seeke reuenge . . .15 But again, usage in the play subtly changes meaning. Henry’s disguise prevents the statement of his intentions as king from being entirely believed by his tiny onstage audience, and therefore raises problems of believability for us. He too is troubled – but more because of what he sees as the intolerable burden that they have sought to lay on him, ‘Upon the King’ (4.1.227). There is a sombreness about this scene, which is partly to do with the characters’ apprehension about their fate in the battle, partly with their anxiety about the ethics of what they are doing, and partly because of the tensions in the structure of which only we,

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the offstage audience, can be aware. The play celebrates Henry’s victory and the heroism of both king and soldiers. Yet at the same time, its dramaturgy, in both situation and language, repeatedly raises questions about the legitimacy of going to war on the leader’s word for the leader’s benefit. It is not the play’s business to solve the ethical dilemma that it poses. The question of what constitutes a just war is, after all, one that has not gone away.

The law and practice of siege Perhaps the most problematic speech for modern readers of Henry V is the one in which Henry threatens the citizens of Harfleur with rape and pillage if they do not open their gates to him. Garrard, as perhaps is only to be expected in a serving soldier, is only really concerned about the practicalities of waging war and of keeping order in war situations. He has no advice to offer to princes on this issue. Nor need he do so, for the brutal moral law on siege conduct, which allows the sacking of captured towns, is set out in sufficiently clear terms in the Bible: When thou comest nere vnto a citie to fight against it, thou shalt offer it peace. And if it answer thee againe peaceably, and open vnto thee, then let all the people that is founde therein, be tributaries vnto thee, and serue thee. But if it wil make no peace with thee, but make warre against thee, then thou shalt besiege it. And the Lord thy God shal deliver it into thine hands, and thou shalt smite all the males thereof with the edge of the sworde. Onely the women, and the children, and the cattle, and all that is in the citie, even all the spoile thereof, shalt thou take vnto thy self, and shalt eat the spoile of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hathe giuen thee. (Deuteronomy 20.10–14)16 As a good Christian prince, Henry has been careful to establish in his initial conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury that he has God on his side. Before Harfleur, in his lights, he acts humanely, and with biblical precedent, in giving fair warning. The terrible irony of all attempts to control war, to codify it and make it ‘just’, is that it puts a civilised or righteous gloss on precivilised behaviour. But we rarely admit that people put in the position of besiegers can feel an atavistic need for revenge, even though it is they who have been acting on the offensive. The besiegers are, after all, initially in the more vulnerable position. They need to dig themselves in for


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their own defence. Somehow, they have to make a breach in the opposing walls through the deadly mathematics of mines, countermines and bombardments. Then they have to storm the breach. Garrard describes the process that we also see staged in Henry V, including the bringing up of the pioneers with scaling ladders, and the necessity of co-ordinating the artillery bombardment so that the attackers do not fall prey to what we have come euphemistically to describe as ‘friendly fire’. Either way, closing up the wall with the besieging dead is no idle metaphor (3.1.0–2). In addition to the emotional and psychological effects of warfare on human behaviour, there are economic and practical considerations. Armies are invariably underfunded for the job they are expected to do. Corruption in European armies at this period meant that ordinary soldiers frequently went unpaid, their allowances being creamed off by their commanding officers – as Falstaff so genially explains and demonstrates in the recruiting scenes of both parts of Henry IV. Inevitably, therefore, the default position is that towns will be sacked. The problem (from the victor’s point of view) is twofold: how to prevent the sacking becoming completely uncontrollable; and how to give all the troops their fair share of booty.17 Nowe if it chaunce that the Towne be taken by assaulte, a publique band or cry must be made, that the bootie and sacke, shal be gyuen as well to them that haue stood in battayle, as to those that were at the Assault. Otherwise, it were almost impossible to constraine any one to keepe order, but that euery one would be at the spoyle. (Garrard, 304) Rule number 49 of the Duke of Alva’s rules of war therefore states that no one must loot ‘until the Generall make proclamation, that euerie man shall take booties: And if the general cause no such proclamation, to be made, & that souldiers make spoile, he shall incurre the paine of death’ (Garrard, 43). There is no humanitarian function here. The objective is to keep control and to maintain security. As Aeneias the Tactician, writing in Greek in the fourth century points out, soldiers weighed down with plunder are vulnerable to counter attack – as are those who are fighting about the spoils amongst themselves.18 In fact, Alva was notorious for allowing the Spanish army to go on the rampage even when a town had surrendered; his Rule 88 allows sacking in these circumstances at the discretion of the commander. A much copied painting by Pieter Breughel the elder shows the biblical story of the massacre of the innocents with soldiers in Spanish armour and

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Bethlehem masquerading as a Flemish village.19 But there have been many besieged towns throughout history that have taken up offers of safety in surrender only to find them withdrawn once the besieging army is admitted. It is a risk. Indeed, it is more than likely. For its part, the town had an absolute duty not to capitulate if there was the slightest chance that it might win out. Catch 22 indeed. The only moral absolutes in this impossible situation attach to the desecration of places of worship and religious artefacts, and to attacks on nuns, monks and priests. Garrard is clear on this issue and instructs the successful military commander that ‘Incontinently he must make cry through the Cittie, that none upon payne of hanging neither take nor spoyle any Churches’ (304). The threat of punishment, of course, does not necessarily prevent the crime. The aftermath in the event of victory in the field can be equally difficult to manage. Agincourt is noted for the unusually large numbers of French aristocratic dead, largely due to Henry’s notorious order to kill prisoners. The contemporary chronicles seem anxious about this unchivalric act, although most seem to concur that the battle was over and troops were beginning to stand down when he learnt of a possible counterattack. This makes his behaviour cold-blooded but necessary, and even French chronicles blame the event on various actions by French soldiers.20 In the play, Gower later states that the killing of the prisoners was a ‘worthy’ reaction to the slaughter by the French of the boys in the undefended baggage train, and Fluellen blames the French action as ‘expressly against the law of arms’. But the fact that, in the Folio version, the explanation is at odds with what we have seen is more than a representation of the ‘fog of war’; it allows us to question the morality of Henry’s position.21 At this point Fluellen likens Henry to Alexander the Great by using the pre-scientific theory of correspondence: there are rivers in both the towns of their birth, and ‘salmons in both’ (4.7.22ff). This is ludicrous in itself, but his rendition of Alexander’s name in Welsh pronunciation becomes ‘Alexander the Pig’. Audiences find this funny at face value, but it also affords a joke – unconscious on Fluellen’s part – on the great military commander’s reputation for both cruelty and excessive drinking (Garrard, 35). In response to Gower’s objection that the two are unalike because Henry ‘never killed any of his friends’, Fluellen triumphantly reminds us that Alexander, drunk, killed Cleitus, but Henry, sober, ‘turned away the fat knight . . . I have forgot his name’ (4.7.37–48). It is a tumultuous, and ludicrous, concatenation of parallel betrayal and expediency, dressed as praise, which encapsulates the moral problem of war itself.


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Critics sitting comfortably in their studies and classrooms tend to draw on their personal feelings for the characters they know, their notions of the obligations of friendship, and rosy beliefs in the concept of ‘just’ war, commonly blaming Henry for threatening the sack of Harfleur, for calmly endorsing Bardolph’s hanging for stealing a pyx, and for turning away Falstaff. It is clear that Lawrence Olivier initially felt intense distaste for Henry’s character in these instances,22 while Kenneth Branagh tried, as he presumably saw it, to humanise Henry by showing him weeping as Bardolph’s legs swung in the background. Olivier’s film was of course extensively cut to create an entirely heroic picture of Henry while, less famously, the speeches of Williams, Bates and Court were carefully rearranged to remove the criticism of war and of Henry’s actions.23 Although purging the text of both its horrors and its ethical doubts may have been an allowable propaganda act in the circumstances of the war against Nazism, it is one that has no place in modern discussion and performance of the play. The message that needs to be taken from the uncut Folio is not that Henry is reprehensible – in the circumstances, he behaves comparatively well – but that war, however necessary it may sometimes appear to be, cannot but result in a choice and balancing of injustice and atrocity. What is really remarkable about war crimes such as the sack of Antwerp – sickeningly depicted in George Gascoigne’s play, A Larum for London – or the mistreatment of prisoners whether in Henry V or in Abu Ghraib is not so much that they happen, as that they do not happen more frequently. They are only averted through the individual soldier’s morality and self-discipline, nurtured by military command, regimental expectation, and established best practice as set out in books and manuals such as Garrard’s. But when we ask our spiritual leaders, as Henry does, for a judgement on waging war that can be in our consciences ‘washed / As pure as sin with baptism’ (Henry V, 1.2.31–2), we might want to reflect that war is always and inevitably an outrage, no matter how responsible, well trained and disciplined the troops, and that what we are really asking for is a whitewash.

Notes 1. I gratefully acknowledge the support of a British Academy conference travel grant and conversations with David Lawrence in the preparation of this chapter. 2. Richard Crompton, for example, ‘an apprentice of the common law’, wrote The Mansion of Magnanimitie wherein is shewed the most high and honorable

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3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.


20. 21. 22. 23.


acts . . . performed in defence of the Princes and Countrie: set forth as an encouragement to all faithfull subjects (1599). See also Virginia Mason Vaughan, Othello: A Contextual History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 39–43, and Jorgensen. Somogyi, 179–83. Parker, 24–33; Hale. Somogyi, 170–4. Rosalind King, ‘ ‘‘Then Murder’s Out of Tune’’: The Music and Structure of Othello,’ Shakespeare Survey 39 (1987), 149–58. Parker, 19. See Henderson below, pp. 231ff. See Holmes; Christopher Allmand, ‘War and the Non-Combatant’ in Keen, 253–72. In Q, the scene has been heavily cut and rearranged. The speech under discussion here is given to 3 Soldier, who most closely corresponds to Bates. Clifford J. Rogers, ‘The Age of the Hundred Years War’ in Keen, 144. Cf. Emma Smith (ed.), King Henry V, Shakespeare in Production Series (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Plutarch, Lives, tr. Thomas North (1579), 983; cf. Shakespeare, A&C 1.1.54–6. Styward, 131. William Whittingham et al. (trs), The Bible, Geneva, 1560. Digges, 72, includes arithmetical demonstrations on dividing booty proportionately to the daily pay for each rank. Aeneias Tacticus, How to Survive under Siege, [by] Aeneias the Tactician, tr. with Introduction and commentary by David Whitehead (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 62. This text was available in Greek in the sixteenth century and translated into Latin by Isaac Casaubon in Polybius the Historian (Paris, 1610). See also David Kunzle, From Criminal to Courtier: The Soldier in Netherlandish Art 1550–1672, History of Warfare, vol. 10 (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2002). Atrocities, of course, occurred on both sides, as this pamphlet title demonstrates: The politique takinge of Zutphen skonce, the winning of the towne, and belagering of Deuneter [Deventer] With the honorable enterprise of Sir Roger Williams Knight, performed vpon a thousande and two hundred of the enemies souldiours . . . Who were all put to the sworde . . . (London: Iohn Charlewood, 1591). Anne Curry, Agincourt: A New History (2nd edition, Stroud: Tempus, 2006), 256–64. The quarto reverses the scenes to present Gower’s (and Holinshed’s) version of events unproblematically. Unpublished papers for the seminar, ‘Shakespeare in Time of War,’ Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting, 2005. Despite the argument advanced by Gary Taylor in Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, Modernizing Shakespeare’s Spelling with Three Studies in the Text of Henry V (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 72–119, the quarto, though shorter and with fewer characters, is not easier to cast with a reduced acting company. It is more likely that the Q revisions are ideological rather than theatrical.

3 War in Shakespeare’s Edward III Ellen C. Caldwell

The question as to whether the anonymous play Edward III can ever finally be attributed, even in part, to Shakespeare is not the issue in this chapter. The play’s importance for the subject of this book rather lies in that king’s importance to the sense of Tudor national identity at a time when England was again heavily engaged in continental wars. These were wars, however, which Elizabeth I was waging reluctantly, and without notable success, and for which she used privately raised armies. Edward’s personal and highly successful military campaigns in France, stemming from his innovative use of gunpowder, anti-cavalry tactics, and the devastatingly destructive chevauch´ee or scorched earth pillaging raid, had been memorialised in the 1557, Virgilian addition to the inscription on his tomb – ‘Tertius Edwardus fama super aethera notus / Pugna pro patria’ (‘Edward the Third, whose fame reaches to the high heavens, fight for your country’). The frontispiece to Stow’s Chronicle (1580 and 1592) shows him at the root of Elizabeth’s family tree, while the chivalric cult of the Order of the Garter, his invention, underpins Tudor and early Stuart royal ceremonial. All contribute to what D. A. L. Morgan has characterised as a sense of ‘Edwardian nostalgia’.1 But Edward III also contains anxieties about the Elizabethan succession and the ability of chivalry either to veil the brutalities of war or to justify its costs. It is therefore worth unravelling how the presentation of war in this play participates in ‘nostalgia’ for ‘li biau fait d’armes’ (glorious deeds of arms) while recognizing its limitations.2 The first part of the play, devoted to Edward’s claim to France, speaks to the succession question and the justification for war. Act II, long attributed to Shakespeare, presents Edward’s desire for the Countess of Salisbury. If we consider these scenes not as odd interludes clumsily welded to a war play, but as commentary on the claim to France and the invasion to follow, we are offered a conflicted if not negative view of 30

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those choices. The play’s war scenes reveal a disjunction between notions of chivalry, warrior kingship, and deeds of arms associated (however inaccurately) with the high Middle Ages and the reality that, by the late sixteenth century, warfare had evolved into something merely deadly and indiscriminate.3 In this contradictory assessment of the wars, admiration for Edward’s strategies, tactics, and conquests is simultaneously asserted and resisted.

Edward’s claim and succession crises At the end of Marlowe’s Edward II, the young King Edward III stands on stage with his father’s body and Mortimer’s head. To the former he says: Sweet father here, unto thy murdered ghost, I offer up this wicked traitor’s head; And let these tears distilling from mine eyes, Be witness of my grief and innocency.4 The word ‘innocency’ comes as something of a shock: surely in terms of stage presence, the decapitated head of an (upstart) earl and the body of a king are more visible witnesses than Edward’s tears, and, as Alan Dessen has suggested, offer some sort of challenge to the young king’s words.5 What have the reminders of violence to do with innocency? And Edward’s innocency of what? His father’s deposition and death? Mortimer’s death? His mother’s ‘retirement’? Edward III was proclaimed king in 1327 when his mother, Mortimer, the magnates and ‘commons’ deposed Edward II, who, they charged, was ‘pas suffisaunt de governer’ (‘unfit to govern’) and had broken the ‘serement qil fist a son coronnement’ (‘promise he made at his coronation’), although it was not until 1330 that he banished his mother and assumed regal power.6 Later called an ‘abdication’, Edward II’s deposition at Isabelle’s instigation created a precedent, which Richard II was to rue and the Tudors were to exploit. The word ‘innocency’ recurs in Edward III when Edward replies to King John’s accusations that he is a ‘foreigner’, a tyrant, and a ‘belly-god’: We presently will meet thee, John of France – And, English lords, let us resolve the day, Either to clear us of that scandalous crime, Or be entomb`ed in our innocency. (3.3.168–71)


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The antecedent to ‘that’ is not exact, and Edward’s claim to innocency is also rather vague. Craig Taylor explains that the legal dossier on Edward’s claim ‘made frequent reference to the principle of just war’.7 Edward’s claim to France (stemming from Henry II’s marriage to Ali´enor of Acquitaine) was itself the justification. Historically, Edward’s reasons for invading France and styling himself its king were more complex than those cited in the play or in the similar situation in Shakespeare’s Henry V.8 It has long been argued that Edward III’s initial aim was to bring about negotiations for sovereignty in Aquitaine, rather than to settle a permanent occupying force.9 Philippe Contamine, in a very suggestive essay, asks whether the Hundred Years War was a ‘conflit f´eodal, dynastique ou national?’ (‘a feudal, dynastic, or national conflict?’)10 The making of the nation and the violence required for its acquisition and maintenance are under interrogation in our play. In 1337, Edward III sent Philippe VI a letter of defiance: ‘Edouwars, par le grace de Dieu roy d’Engleterre et d’Irlande, a` Phelippe de Vallois escripsons’; ‘We, Edward, by the grace of God King of England and Ireland, write to Philippe de Valois.’11 Edward’s claim followed a French dynastic shift. The Capetian King Philippe IV le Bel had three sons, each of whom had died without male heirs. His last son was Charles IV, the claim of whose daughter Blanche reopened the question of female succession.12 Philippe VI de Valois, son of Charles, comte de Valois, and brother of Philippe IV le Bel, had already been named Regent, thus his claim was preferred over those of the female children of Louis X, Philippe V, or Charles IV.13 Even though the play ignores Philippe VI altogether and presents instead his son, Jean II, the outline of this complex succession question was well understood. It opens the play as Edward III asks, ‘Who next succeeded Philip le Beau?’ (1.1.6). Artois replies: Three sons of his, which all successively Did sit upon their father’s regal throne, Yet died and left no issue of their loins. (1.1.7–9) Later, a ‘French Citizen’ explains to his countryman that ‘Edward is son unto our late king’s sister, / Where John Valois is three degrees removed’ (3.3.36–7). Edward claimed the French throne through his mother, Isabelle. Elizabethan audiences of the play would have been aware that, like the last three direct Capetian kings and the last three Valois kings, the

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three latest Tudor monarchs had no issue, while the claim of James VI of Scotland to the English throne depended on the female line. They may have sensed some anti-Scottish sentiment in the play’s portrayal of the Scots.14 They would not have been aware that after the death of his eldest son, Edward III had entailed the English crown in the male line in an attempt to ensure the collaboration of his own three remaining and powerful sons in support of his under-aged grandson. A copy of this entail was in the possession of Sir Robert Cotton during the negotiations for James’ succession. In all likelihood, Cotton suppressed it since it would have cast doubt on James’s claim, which Cotton strongly endorsed. That Edward III late in his reign should entail the English crown in a way that would negate his claim to France is significant, and suggests that the populace – then and now – took the claim to France literally in a way that Edward did not.15 France itself presented another gnarly succession crisis with direct bearing on Elizabeth’s wars. In 1584, Henri de Navarre’s rights to succession were contested by the Catholic nobility, Spain, and in 1585, by Pope Sixtus V, who excommunicated Navarre and his cousin Cond´e. Political struggles between Ligueurs and Henri III continued, and when he had the duc de Guise and his brother assassinated in 1588, the Sorbonne ‘released and delivered’ his subjects from their loyalty to the king.16 When he recognized Navarre as his heir, Henri III was himself excommunicated, and his enemies began to style him ‘Henri de Valois’, much as Edward III had termed the French king ‘Philippe de Valois’. When Henri III was murdered in 1589, the Valois line died with him. After the death in 1590 of Navarre’s aged uncle, the cardinal de Bourbon, ‘Charles X’, Ligueurs were divided in their quest for an appropriate royal candidate, proposing an elective monarchy under the duc de Mayenne, Guise’s son; at the same time Spanish negotiators pressed the claims of the Infanta Isabella, daughter of Elisabeth and Philip II. Marriage between her and the young duc de Guise was also proposed,17 since her claim required the suppression of Salic Law.18 These problems of succession provided a suggestive analogue for contemporary shifts in geopolitical power-brokering in France, Spain, England, Scotland, and the United Provinces.

The Countess of Salisbury Edward III opens not in Normandy or Guyenne, but in the temporary ‘camp’ of David, the ‘treacherous king’ of Scotland who, ‘forgetting of his former oath’ (1.1.124–6), has invaded England and besieged the castle of Roxborough and the Countess of Salisbury within. As the Countess


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berates her absent cousin Montague for his failure to ‘solicit’ (1.2.4) the English king on her behalf, she refers with proleptic irony to the ‘rude wooing’ she will suffer if Montague is unsuccessful: Thou [Montague] dost not tell him what a grief it is To be the scornful captive to a Scot, Either to be wooed with broad untun`ed oaths, Or forced by rough insulting barbarism; (1.2.6–9) Of special significance in the passage are the references to the savagery manifest in the unintelligible, bestial nature of the Scots’ speech: their ‘babble’ as they ‘bray’. There is fuel here for the thesis that the Scots remained a threat to English cohesion and unity, all too clearly evidenced in their un-English language; Melchiori notes their ‘Scottishisms’ in his edition.19 Here, King David and Douglas cement the strategic accord between France and Scotland (significantly but ahistorically with someone from the house of Lorraine, from which James VI was descended), with vows of relentless harassment against the English. After Lorraine exits, the two Scots quarrel over the possession of the Countess and her jewels, which, as King David says, with a sexual pun on jewels, ‘are her own, still liable to her, / And who inherits her hath those with all’ (1.2.46–7). Although David and Douglas threaten rape of the Countess and destruction of English ground, they also signal Edward’s own attempt to possess the Countess and her beauty, which, she will say, ‘is soldered to my life’ (2.1.232), and to invade France and rob its riches. Later the Countess faces a more formidable siege, staged here as prologue to Edward’s invasion of France, and at the end of her trial, Edward compares her to Lucretia: Arise, true English lady, whom our isle May better boast of than ever Roman might Of her, whose ransacked treasury hath tasked The vain endeavour of so many pens; (2.2.192–5) Shakespeare’s own ‘endeavour’ appeared in 1592. The play’s sources (Painter, Froissart, and Holinshed) are unaware that Jean le Bel, the Li´egeois chronicler who was present at the deposition

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of Edward II,20 alleged that not only did Edward III fall in love with the Countess, but (David-like), he sent her husband, his loyal servant, into Brittany, then returned to her castle and raped her.21 If knowledge of this accusation reached the play’s author(s), it would probably have travelled not directly via Le Bel’s chronicle, but rather through Froissart’s refutation in the Amiens redaction of his Chroniques, which is not in Berner’s translation.22 Antonia Gransden has put forward the explanation that the story from Le Bel is based, with another account, on a common source – a source which was fabricated, as anti-English propaganda, with allusions to Livy’s Lucretia, reintroduced at the time.23 Acknowledging that there is much that cannot be known about the episode, she dismisses the allegation against the king as a likely literary construction. The parallel with Lucrece may lie behind Le Bel’s account; it is made explicit in our play. Despite some moments that may surely be played as comedy, the wooing is presented as an attack, with Edward abusing his power as king to coerce the Countess and her father. Although the king speaks eloquently both to Lodowick and himself/the audience, his remarks to the Countess are blunt, rude, deceitful, accusing, and relentless. She calls her father’s pandering an ‘unnatural besiege’ (2.1.413), emphasising in the love/war trope the violence and imperiousness of Edward’s desire. We are invited to interpret Edward’s claims to France in the same unfavourable light. The trope resurfaces in later scenes: ‘The quarrel that I have requires no arms / But these of mine’ (2.2.61–2). He is wrong, of course; his quarrel here and elsewhere will require fatal weapons. Earlier he had claimed that when the Countess talked of war, ‘It wakened Caesar from his Roman grave / To hear war beautified by her discourse’ (2.1.38–9). A vile phrase, perhaps, but since its locus classicus in Iliad IV, where Menelaus’ bloodstained skin is compared to a horse’s purple-dyed ivory cheekpiece, the aestheticisation of violence, especially in the depiction of war, has been difficult to resist.24 This may be particularly the case here since, according to legend, it was the Countess of Salisbury (in this case, the future wife to Edward’s son), whose garter, dropped while dancing at Edward’s court, occasioned his foundation of that chivalric order. One of the effects of the scenes with the Countess, which do seem to me Shakespeare’s, is to insist on the violence and unlawfulness of Edward’s desire and thus to counter the potential of chronicle plays to glorify war. Edward says he would swim ‘a Hellespont of blood / To arrive at Sestos,’ but the Countess replies, ‘you’ll make the river too’ (2.2.154–6). These scenes allude to a notion gaining currency among Elizabethans: monarchical legitimacy depends


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on the consent of parliament and the people. Monarchy becomes tyranny when it has to be imposed by force.

The presentation of war War in Edward III, thus introduced by Edward’s desire ‘beyond our law’ (2.2.144–5), appears in reports of four episodes drawn from Edward’s early campaigns against France: the battles of Sluys, Cr´ecy, and Poitiers, and the siege of Calais. These reports justify and glorify war (even as they grimly admit to its destructiveness) by linking past and contemporary concerns. Changes in the methods of waging war are reflected in reports of the physical damage wrought by cannons, in the representation of various responses to the pressure of battle, and in the effects of the chevauch´ees on non-combatants. There are several versions of the naval battle of Sluys on 24 June 1340, including Jean le Bel, Froissart, the Grandes Chroniques de France, Holinshed, and others. The play’s presentation of the battle reflects the recent English defeat of the Spanish Armada – indeed, it would be odd if it did not – both in its description of the order of Edward’s ships ‘figuring the horn`ed circle of the moon’ (3.1.72) and in its inclusion of cannons on board. On shore, King John and his son hear cannon shots, but the on-board action is not staged.25 The messenger’s report indicates that these cannons, which ‘from their smoky wombs / Sent many grim ambassadors of death’ were responsible for sinking ships and destroying men: Purple the sea, whose channel filled as fast With streaming gore that from the maim`ed fell As did the gushing moisture break into The crannied cleftures of the through-shot planks. Here flew a head dissevered from the trunk, There mangled arms and legs were tossed aloft (3.1.161–6)26 The gruesome picture of dismembered men tossed in the air as their ships sink reflects the results of the gunpowder revolution, just beginning when Edward fought this battle. Cannons are again mentioned in the play’s description of the battle of Poitiers (1356). Whether gunpowder artillery was actually used at Cr´ecy and Poitiers is contested, but by 1356, French, English, and Italian armies were all experimenting with such weapons in the field. The inaccuracy,

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instability, and difficulties in loading these weapons, however, reduced their efficacy to the panic provoked by noise and smoke. In the play, Salisbury’s last view of the battle finds the Prince surrounded by cavalry, pikemen, and ’brazen ordinance’: Here stood a battle of ten thousand horse, There twice as many pikes in quadrant wise, Here crossbows and deadly wounding darts . . . Off go the cannons that with trembling noise Did shake the very mountain where they stood. (5.1.136–8; 146–7) The French cannons are useless against English arrows and stones. Perhaps the scene also reflects the fact that while recognising their value or destructiveness, Elizabethan armies deployed few guns in the field, despite the ideal numbers cited in the military handbooks of the period.27

Chivalry vs. chevauch´ee After the surprise landing in 1346 at St Vaast-de-la-Hougue, Edward and his men marched through the Cotentin, seizing, pillaging, or burning towns and villages from Valognes, to Carentan, to Saint Lo – a strategy repeated time and again by Edward and his men in different regions of France.28 In the play, the chevauch´ee is reported from the point of view of a nameless Frenchman, who tells ‘his countrymen and citizens of France’ that ‘ransack-constraining war / Sits like to ravens upon your houses’ tops’ (3.2.46, 49–50). His lament is eloquent and graphic: ‘slaughter and mischief’ are personified as walking unimpeded through the towns; those who manage to escape the fire of war will ‘fall numberless upon the soldiers’ pikes’; and he predicts that ‘your wives will be abused, / Your treasure shared before your weeping eyes’ (3.2.50–73) – what Kings David and Edward attempt with the Countess, Edward’s troops will inflict on French non-combatants. English destructive marches through Normandy feature prominently in the first book of Froissart. Even when forbidden to do so, the soldiers looted merchant centres, while farms and villages were completely at their mercy. Edward himself burned the countryside before him as he advanced towards Paris. French historians today see this strategy as having had multiple dimensions – military, economic, psychological – for it transformed the entire kingdom of France into a


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‘frontier zone’ where no one was safe.29 Andr´e Plaisse contends that the murdering and pillaging of non-combatants was at odds with the chivalric ideal.30 Edward’s strategy reflects the changing makeup of armies, the ‘Infantry Revolution’, that would continue beyond the Hundred Years War. From the English chevauch´ees to the depradations of the e´ corcheurs to the notorious pillaging by the Spanish armies in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century, the multiplied savagery towards non-combatants must be seen as a significant aspect of the military revolution, especially as nationalistic attitudes solidified, and hatred towards one’s professed enemies became entrenched.

Pitched battle: Cr´ecy and Poitiers At Cr´ecy and Poitiers, Edward III and his son introduced the measures so celebrated by the English when they remember Henry V’s victory at Agincourt: anti-cavalry tactics and the effective deployment of smaller armies against larger ones. In Edward III, the battle at Sluys (1340) is immediately followed by Cr´ecy (1346), and then Poitiers (1356), which is made simultaneous with the siege of Calais (1346–7). The battle of Cr´ecy is structured to spotlight the Prince of Wales, which encouraged Melchiori to read it as a ‘Garter Play.’ Unlike the mercenary Genoese, Poles, and Danes in the French army, the Prince is seen to thrive under the stress of battle. Froissart does not idealise all deeds of arms at Cr´ecy and Poitiers, where dismounted men ran among the fallen French men-at-arms and, instead of taking them prisoner for ransom, slew them on the field. At Cr´ecy, ‘pillards et ribauds’ (‘pillagers and scoundrels’) killed noblemen without mercy.31 Similarly, at Poitiers, the discomfited French noblemen were killed by the English at will.32 Such infantry tactics would become widely adopted. Instead of being composed of heavily armoured mounted men-at-arms, fighting to capture other knights for ransom, later European armies would be filled with ranks of commoners, more or less well-trained, armed with pikes and eventually muskets, fighting to kill one another.33 Through the course of the Hundred Years War and into the sixteenth century, this so-called ‘Infantry Revolution’ would produce larger armies of common men who fought wars with increasingly higher casualty rates.34 In looking back to the battle of Poitiers, the play presents the splendour of the French army as it is amazed and routed, not by cavalry forces, but by ‘one poor David’ with arrows and flints. The effect suggests that even small and badly equipped armies like Elizabeth’s, if well led, sufficiently valorous, and inventive, can win momentous victories.

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War and national identity: first France, then the Turk The development of French and English national sentiment during the wars and military transformations under Edward III and his successors suggests that a play of ‘Edwardian nostalgia’ might have seemed an apt vehicle for exploring late-sixteenth-century crises in national, monarchical, and religious identity, exacerbated by military exigencies abroad. Certain scenes in Edward III appear designed to solidify national unity through the disparagement of a hated and envied rival with vitriol against, as noted above, the ‘treacherous’, barbaric, ‘vile uncivil’, braying Scots (1.2.9, 12–13). The French are tyrannical, and they themselves call the Dutch ‘frothy’ and ‘ever-bibing’ (3.1.25–6) and England a ‘harebrained nation’ (3.1.51). Artois swears that he backs Edward’s claim because ‘love unto my country’ (1.1.33) demands allegiance to ‘the lineal watchman of our peace’ (1.1.36), ‘the true shepherd of our commonwealth’ (1.1.41). When John exhorts his men to fight, he makes the nationalistic and xenophobic argument which will eventually underpin all European claims on their subjects for military resources, development, and maintenance, and which still sounds uncannily modern: he tells his lords: ‘He that you fight for is your natural king, / He against whom you fight, a foreigner’ (3.3.143–4). Should Edward prevail, he will ‘enthrone himself in tyranny, / Make slaves of you, and with a heavy hand / Curtail and curb your sweetest liberty’ (3.3.148–50). Working against an overarching nationalism are extraordinary moments of resistance. The fractures inherent in constructed identity are revealed in those scenes comparing invasion to rape and insisting on the inhumanity of contemporary warfare, and in well-timed suggestions that national claims to legitimacy are merely rhetorical incitements to naked violence for the satisfaction of the monarch’s or the state’s ‘unlawful desires’. That these are intertwined is clear in Edward’s desire for the crown of a ‘mighty nation’ (1.1.146). In the middle of the battle of Sluys, Prince Philip replies to his father’s questions about Edward’s claim: I say, my lord, claim Edward what he can, And bring he ne’er so plain a pedigree, ’Tis you are in possession of the crown, And that’s the surest point of all the law; But were it not, yet ere he should prevail, I’ll make a conduit of my dearest blood, Or chase those straggling upstarts home again. (3.1.107–13)


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This startling confession has a major implication: possession alone is more legally binding than dynastic succession, but must be maintained with violence. By the play’s end the English do possess the French crown, a ‘wreath of conquest and reward of war’ (5.1.193), which they claim John spent towns and peoples’ lives in a fruitless and immoral effort to retain. If the late-Elizabethan chronicle plays were designed to help subjects identify their investment in the outcomes of war, many of these plays, including Edward III, now appear to us to have interrogated national identity. Charles Tilly’s axiomatic ‘wars make states and states make war’ describes this circular procedure, for war and its costly technological innovations cannot proceed without the continued justification of their costs.35 As Edward explains early in the play and as Elizabethans feared, ‘we shall have wars on every side’ (1.1.156). In his last speech, Prince Edward speaks pointedly to the succession of English power in its warrior princes, a reference perhaps to Henry V or to the absence of any such present hope in the 1590s. He asks ‘that many princes more, / Bred and brought up within that little isle, / May still be famous for like victories’ (5.1.220–2). He becomes prophetic when he wishes that his pains and dangers had been twenty times greater: So that hereafter ages, when they read The painful traffic of my tender youth, Might therefore be inflamed with such resolve As not the territories of France alone, But likewise Spain, Turkey, and what countries else That justly would provoke fair England’s ire, Might at their presence tremble and retire. (5.1.232–5) The playgoer is thus faced with the uncomfortable insistence on an endless spiral of violence in the service of political legitimacy.

Notes 1. D. A. L. Morgan, ‘The Political After-Life of Edward III: The Apotheosis of a Warmonger,’ English Historical Review 112 (1997), 856–81, esp. 874. 2. Froissart, Chroniques (Ainsworth and Diller), Prologue, 71. Translations from the French, unless otherwise noted, are my own.

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3. Hall; Eltis; Parker. 4. Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, in Complete Plays and Poems, ed. E. D. Pendry and J. C. Maxwell (London: Everyman, 1976, rpt. 1993), 5.6.99–102. 5. Professor Dessen in a class at UNCCH, early 1980s. 6. Claire Valente, ‘The Deposition and Abdication of Edward II,’ The English Historical Review 113 (1998), 852–81. 7. Craig Taylor, ‘Edward III and the Plantagenet Claim to the French Throne,’ in J. S. Bothwell (ed), The Age of Edward III (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press, 2001), 155–69, 164. 8. Favier, 13–16. However, Kenneth Fowler, The Age of Plantagenet and Valois: The Struggle for Supremacy 1328–1498 (London: Elek Books Ltd., 1967), claims that the chronology begins with Henry’s accession to the crown of England in 1154 (10–11). 9. See Perroy. The term king-duke is that of Jean le Patourel, ‘The Origins of the War,’ in The Hundred Years War, ed. Kenneth Alan Fowler (London: Macmillan, 1971), 28–50. Alain Demurger, Temps de crises, temps d’espoirs: ´ XIV e – XV e si`ecle (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1990), 10. 10. Philippe Contamine, ‘De la modernit´e de la guerre de Cent ans: conflit f´eodal, dynastique ou national?’ in De Jeanne d’Arc aux guerres d’Italie: Figures, images et probl`emes du XV e si`ecle (Orl´eans: Paradigme, 1994), 13–37, 13. Contamine also claims that the insistence that late medieval France was not ‘French’ is a construction of British historians. 11. Froissart, Chroniques, ed. Sim´eon Luce, tome premier 1307–1340 (Paris : Jules Renouard, 1869), Vol. 1, p. 404, Amiens redaction paragraph 62. 12. In 1316, Jeanne, daughter of Louis X, eldest son of King Philippe IV, had already been denied the throne. The second son, Philippe V, also had four daughters who were excluded. 13. Perroy; Favier. Cf. C. T. Allmand, The Hundred Years War: England and France at War, c.1300–c.1450 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Robin Neillands, The Hundred Years War (London: Routledge, 1990); Desmond Seward, The Hundred Years War: The English in France, 1337–1453 (New York: Athenaeum, 1978). 14. Melchiori, 12–13. 15. Michael Bennett, ‘Edward III’s Entail and the Succession to the Crown, 1376– 1471,’ English Historical Review 113 (1998), 580–609. 16. ‘The repudiation of Henry III at Paris, 7 January 1589,’ in Potter, 216. 17. Potter, 211–15; Holt, 121–52. 18. Hillman, 8, 72–111, develops the theme of Isabella’s responsibility for the claims to France as context for Marlowe’s Edward II. See also Holt, 149. 19. Melchiori, 68–9, nn. 26, 33, 52, 57. 20. Valente, ‘The Deposition and Abdication of Edward II,’ 852–81; 856. 21. Jean le Bel, Chroniques, II, 30–4. 22. Froissart, Chroniques (Ainsworth and Diller), p. 687, Amiens redaction, II, 331. 23. Antonia Gransden, ‘The Alleged Rape by Edward III of the Countess of Salisbury,’ English Historical Review 87 (1972), 333–44. 24. Jean-Pierre Vernant, ‘A ‘‘Beautiful Death’’ and the Disfigured Corpse in Homeric Epic,’ Mortals and Immortals: Collected Essays (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 50–74.


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25. In general, the report imitates the description of a land battle in Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, published in 1592 (see Melchiori 28–9; 108, n.72; 112, n. 144). 26. Larry Champion, ‘ ‘‘Answere to this Perillous Time’’: Ideological Ambivalence in The Raigne of King Edward III and the English Chronicle Plays,’ English Studies, 69 (1988), 125, cites this passage as evidence that ‘reports of actual combat center not on cause and principle but on the specter of agony and grisly death’. 27. Henry J. Webb, ‘Elizabethan Field Artillery,’ Military Affairs 19.4 (1955), 198. See Arnold 47, 44, for details of supplies and their costs. 28. Plaisse, 30–1. 29. Anne Blanchard, Philippe Contamine, Andr´e Corvisier, Jean Meyer, Michel Mollat du Jourdin, Histoire Militaire de la France I: Des origines a` 1715, sous la direction de Philippe Contamine (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992), 133: ‘l’ensemble de la France devint en quelque sorte pays de fronti`ere’. 30. Plaisse, 71–83. 31. Froissart, Chroniques (Ainsworth and Diller), p. 586, paragraph 284. 32. Froissart, Chroniques, ed. M. le baron Kervyn de Lettenhove, tome cinqui`eme 1346–1356 (rep. 1967; Osnabr¨ uck: Biblio Verlag, 1867–77), p. 439. 33. Clifford J. Rogers, ‘The Military Revolutions of the Hundred Years’ War,’ Journal of Military History 57 (1993), 241–78; 249. 34. Parker, 16, projects that between Agincourt in 1415 and 1445, near the war’s end, the French reversed their 2:1 ratio of men-at-arms to archers; cf. Eltis 105–8. 35. Charles Tilly, Coercion, Capital, and European States: AD 990–1990 (Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell, 1990).

4 Shakespeare and Peace Thomas Kullmann

King James I ‘was the most thorough-going pacifist who ever bore rule in England’. This startling pronouncement was made by George Macaulay Trevelyan in his Shortened History of England, published in 1942.1 Trevelyan, who was highly decorated for bravery in World War I, of course uses the word ‘pacifist’ as a term of abuse. The statement quoted is in fact only one of a string of accusations levelled against the Stuart king. According to Trevelyan, James was ‘the comic offspring’ of a ‘tragic union’, ‘conceited’, ‘garrulous’, ‘wise in book-learning but a poor judge of men’, ‘ignorant of England and her laws’. He ‘mismanaged the always difficult Roman Catholic question’, had ‘a physical horror’ ‘of naked steel’, and, what was worse, ‘utterly neglected the Navy’.2 As a leading proponent of the ‘Whig interpretation’ of history, Trevelyan cannot sympathise with a king who tried to establish autocratic rule and failed to recognise the privileges of Parliament. His assessment of James continued a long historiographic tradition. Nineteenth-century historians and intellectuals disliked James for being a Scotsman, and a homosexual. Charles Dickens, in his satirical Child’s History of England (1853), for example, wallows in the abuse he pours upon ‘His Sowship’, as James was supposedly called by one of his favourites.3 It was only in the last decades of the twentieth century that historians began to hold a revisionist view, recognising James’s political and diplomatic skills and his qualities as a peacemaker.4 This chapter explores that aspiration with regard to Shakespeare’s writing on war and peace, in King Lear, Cymbeline and The Tempest. James’s record in the field of foreign affairs is, in fact, impressive. In the Treaty of London he concluded peace with England’s arch-enemy, Spain, only one year after his accession (1604). This Treaty can be considered ‘a 43


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victory for English diplomacy’ which gave the English peace with honour and allowed them to keep up friendly relations with the Dutch Provinces. James successfully mediated between Sweden and Denmark in 1613, ‘negotiated a settlement of the immensely complicated Cleves-J¨ ulich dispute’ in 1614, and sought to establish well-balanced international relations through the marriages of his children.5 When the Thirty Years’ War broke out in 1618, James engaged in manifold diplomatic activities in an effort to stop or contain hostilities on the continent.6 While he was unsuccessful in bringing about peace, he managed to avoid involving his own realms in the conflict. James’s most ambitious project was certainly to bring about ‘the union of the Church . . . to the solace and universal peace of Christendom’, as he wrote to Jacques-Auguste de Thou, president of the Parliament of Paris and royal librarian to Henri IV, on March 4, 1604.7 To this end, he entered into correspondences with Protestant and Catholic theologians and officials, including the pope, called for an ecumenical council, encouraged participation in synods, wrote theological treatises and sought for alliances with Catholic powers.8 When, in 1609, James addressed his Premonition to the Emperor and ‘to All Other Right High and Mightie Kings; and Right Excellent Free Princes and States of Christendome’ he may have been justified in considering the European rulers his ‘louing Brethren, Cosins, Allies, Confederates and Friends’.9 The object of the Premonition was to refute the pope’s claim of having the power to depose a king. While it is not surprising that James should oppose this claim, he went to remarkable lengths to enlist the Catholic princes’ support for his point of view. James obviously decided to meet Roman Catholicism half-way, declaring his willingness to acknowledge the Bishop of Rome to be ‘Patriarch of the West’ and ‘Princeps Episcoporum’.10 James’s theological views corresponded to those expounded in that voluminous work Of the Church, by the theologian Richard Field, ‘a treatise evidently intended to be a semiofficial treatment of ecclesiology’.11 According to Field, the Bishop of Rome, as ‘the prime Bishop in order and honour’, was the appropriate person to preside over a general council to restore church unity. The main problems faced by James in his peacemaking activities were Parliament and public opinion at home. This was, of course, a conflict inherited from his predecessor: from the beginning of the Dutch revolt, English noblemen and parliamentarians had urged the Queen to go to war against Spain, while Elizabeth tried to resolve the conflict diplomatically, even refusing the sovereignty of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht when it was offered to her by the Dutch, and trying to cancel

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the Governor-Generalship assumed by Lord Leicester.12 She was unable or unwilling, however, to stop the war altogether. While she tried to avoid sending troops to the Low Countries, she encouraged the unofficial warfare conducted by English gentlemen captains against Spanish ships. While Elizabeth can be accused of vacillation, her policies certainly served a threefold purpose. She more or less succeeded in shifting personal responsibilities to others, she maintained a precarious balance between European powers, and she provided an outlet for those of her noble subjects who, like Drake, Raleigh, Leicester and Sidney, wished to prove their chivalric qualities in some kind of martial action.13 Like Elizabeth, James, throughout his reign, was urged to support Protestant causes and to keep a firm stand with regard to the Catholic powers of Europe.14 Nevertheless, he managed to end the war against Spain, going to great lengths to justify his peace policies to his subjects. In promoting a peace treaty with Spain, one of James’s first steps was to outlaw piracy. In his ‘Proclamation concerning Warlike ships at Sea’ issued on 23 June 1603, he refers to the ‘good amity and friendship with all the Princes of Christendome’, including the King of Spain and informs his subjects that while the privateers’ intentions may have been good, they will from now on be considered unlawful pirates. In his ‘Proclamation to represse all Piracies and Depredations upon the Sea’, issued on 30 September 1603, his tone stiffens. He calls ‘such Piracies and Depredacious crimes, most hatefull to his minde, and scandalous to his peaceable government’, and announces that those who ‘take any Ship that doeth belong to any of his Majesties Friends and Allies . . . shall suffer Death’. After the conclusion of the peace treaty between England and Spain on 18 August 1604 a proclamation was issued detailing that James now considered the King of Spain as belonging to his ‘friends and allyes’.15 Contemporary observers noticed that the conclusion of this treaty was not accompanied by public celebrations.16 After the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605, one of James’s main concerns was to clear foreign powers, most notably Spain, from any suspicion.17 Instead, he blames internal Catholic opposition, as when, some years later, he explains that it is ‘the horrour and detestation of the POWDER-TREASON in the mindes of our Parliament’ that necessitates him to issue a proclamation ‘for the due execution of all former Lawes against Recusants’ (2 June 1610), following ‘an humble petition’ made by Parliament ‘to be more wakefull then heretofore we have bene upon the courses and steps of the Papists’.18 In the course of James’s reign the antagonism between the (anti-Spanish) ‘puritan’ and the ‘Spanish’ position intensified.19


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James’s interior policies were also characterised by peacemaking projects. They were, however, only partly successful. James’s plan for a union of Scotland and England, pursued from 1604 to 1607, met with ‘Parliament’s rabid hostility’.20 With regard to the prevailing religious tensions, James succeeded in maintaining a tenuous equilibrium between Calvinist and Arminian clergy, tolerating Roman Catholics as long as they kept quiet.21 In pursuing this policy, James again worked against public opinion, which was dominated by Calvinist Puritanism. Although in his 1609 speech to parliament James compared kings to God22 and obviously aspired to be an absolute monarch – in accordance with notions of kingship developed in continental political theory – he was aware of the actual limitations of his power.23 He therefore made ample use of the strategies of persuasion open to a Renaissance prince, influencing discourse through the means of lavish public display.24 The principal image of James propagated by himself was that of a peacemaker: ‘He was hailed as a new Augustus, as Great Britain’s Solomon and, by the relentless repetition of the motto Beati Pacifici . . . , as a possible restorer of unity to a divided Europe.’25 While James could not stop Protestant militancy, he managed to establish a discourse of peaceful kingship or empery which effectively put an end to the romance of chivalry which had determined the political ambitions of Elizabethan courtiers, at least after the death of his son Prince Henry. When James distinguished Shakespeare’s theatrical company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, by allowing them to call themselves the King’s Men in 1603, he also expected this company to contribute to his royal splendour. By 1603 Shakespeare was already a well-established court dramatist. During the reign of Elizabeth, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men were invited to play at court 32 times, more than any other external theatrical company for which payments are recorded. During James’s reign, 175 court performances by the King’s Men were recorded; as far as can be seen from the records, Shakespeare was the playwright whose plays were performed most often.26 Shakespeare and some of his fellow-actors took part in James’s coronation pageant on 15 March 1604,27 and were paid for attending on the Spanish ambassador, Don Juan de Velasco, for a period of eighteen days in August 1604, at the time of the peace negotiations.28 I should like to argue that the King’s Men might have been expected to support the king in influencing public discourse, and that one of their tasks was to propagate James’s concept of universal peace. In Shakespeare’s earlier plays James could find ample evidence of the dramatist’s peaceful attitude. Almost all of the plays end with some kind of reconciliation. The two tetralogies of the histories, in particular, end

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in celebrations of peace restored after much bloodshed in war. Richard III ends with the establishment of the Tudor dynasty, but it is even more important that a lasting peace is established: Abate the edge of traitors, gracious Lord, That would reduce these bloody days again And make poor England weep forth streams of blood. Let them not live to taste this land’s increase, That would with treason wound this fair land’s peace. Now civil wounds are stopped; peace lives again. That she may long live here, God say ‘Amen’. (5.5.35–41) In Henry V Henry defeats the French forces at Agincourt and annexes the kingdom of France to that of England. While there is considerable ambiguity as to the appropriateness of and justification for this war,29 its result may certainly cause patriotic feelings among the audience. The English victory is duly celebrated at the end of Act IV and the beginning of Act V, where the Chorus compares Henry’s triumphal entry into London to that which the Earl of Essex might make upon his return from Ireland (5.0.30–4). This reference to Essex (a notorious war-monger) is usually understood as a compliment, but we should notice that the Chorus specifies that the citizens of London had ‘much more cause’ to celebrate Henry V than Essex (5.0.34). If, as is quite possible, Shakespeare knew about Essex’s imminent failure, the reference could be considered particularly insidious. In Henry V, as in known history, the English triumph marks simply an intermediate stage. At the end of the play, the emphasis is put on the peace established between the nations of England and France, rather than on the English victory. The French King expresses his hope ‘that never war advance / His bleeding sword ’twixt England and fair France’ (5.2.349–50), and the French Queen is given occasion to state her wish ‘That English may as French, French Englishmen, / Receive each other, God speak this ‘‘Amen’’ ’ (5.2.362–3). As in the passage quoted above, peace is considered to be a divine gift. The plays presumably written from 1603 onwards contain elements reminiscent of James’s political thought in general and his pacifism in particular. It has long been observed that Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure recalls certain aspects of James’s behaviour and echoes some of the ideas in his Basilikon Doron.30 King Lear and Cymbeline, set in an


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ancient British past threatened by civil war and invasion, reflect James’s project for the union of ‘Great Britain’. Macbeth takes up a Scottish topic, featuring historical events which ultimately led to the establishment of the Stuart dynasty. Recently scholars have found the idea of Shakespeare as a court propagandist unpalatable. Following Stephen Greenblatt’s assertion that Shakespeare’s plays are ‘relentlessly subversive’,31 they have laboured to find hidden subversion in the plays, contending, for example, that Duke Vincentio is in fact a weak sovereign32 (although he is never called weak in the play). Some scholars have even found resemblances between James and King Lear,33 but, as R. A. Foakes notices, ‘Lear behaves in a way precisely opposite to that James had recommended to his heir’,34 dividing the kingdom among his daughters whereas James propagated national unity. I should rather like to argue that Shakespeare was indeed subversive, in that he tried to assist King James in subverting public opinion. King Lear is a case in point: Lear’s division of the kingdom of Britain could be seen as that political fall of man which James, through a union of Scotland and England, was going to rectify. In this context it is striking that the foreign monarch who tries to restore Lear’s kingship is the King of France, who in Shakespeare’s and James’s own day was the head of a Catholic nation.35 The political dynamite contained in King Lear can possibly be assessed from the fact that several references to the French invasion found in the Quarto text of 1608 are omitted or toned down in the Folio version, the manuscript behind which was probably a prompt book.36 Most notably, Kent in the Quarto text informs us that a power is coming from France (8.21–5) and that the King of France himself ‘spreads his banners in our noiseless land’ (16.55). By contrast, the Folio only mentions servants who are ‘spies and speculations’ to France (3.1.15). In both the Quarto and Folio texts, however, Cornwall states that ‘the army of France is landed’ (3.7.2, 14.2). And both texts agree that Cordelia is acting from filial duty: ‘No blown ambition doth our arms incite, / But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right’ (4.3.27–8 [Folio], 18.28–9 [Quarto]). There is no reason to question Cordelia’s sincerity as her love is consistently contrasted with her sisters’ callousness. As R. A. Foakes points out, the changes do not concern the fact of the French invasion (which, after all, is central to the plot in the sources), but put Cordelia rather than the French king at the head of the invading army.37 The play therefore suggests a sympathetic view of a country, which by many Englishmen of Shakespeare’s days was considered to be inimical, thus giving ideological support to King James’s endeavours to establish friendly relations with

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powerful Catholic countries by means of diplomacy. Many among the audiences of King Lear may not have shared James’s views about foreign policies. I should like to suggest that it is for this reason that Shakespeare chooses an indirect, roundabout way of conveying his distribution of sympathies. As the play is set in the legendary past, the ‘subversion’ of received public opinion would probably take some time to ‘sink in’. Another play intimately connected to James’s kingship is Macbeth.38 As Banquo and Fleance are among James’s ancestors, the play has often been understood as, among other things, a celebration of the origins of the Stuart dynasty. Scholars have been puzzled, though, by the fact that the Stuart dynasty is only referred to obliquely, in the ‘Show of eight kings’ (4.1.127, SD) presented to Macbeth by the Weird Sisters. The last one of them carries a glass, which shows to Macbeth ‘many more’ kings, who carry ‘twofold balls and treble sceptres’ (4.1.137), which probably alludes not just to ‘the double coronation of James at Scone and at Westminster’39 but to the prospective union of three countries (including Ireland). I should like to argue, though, that the main political point of Macbeth is not the Stuart dynasty but the relationship between England and Scotland: Malcolm and Macduff flee to England, to escape from Macbeth’s tyranny, and the English Army invades Scotland to restore the rightful heir to the Scottish throne. The play shows England as a champion of Scottish freedom, and celebrates an English–Scottish alliance. In the play this alliance brings about peace; similarly, King James professed to establish peace by uniting the two kingdoms. It is in the ‘romances’ that Shakespeare treats the topics of peace and reconciliation most extensively and that his pacifism becomes most apparent. In Cymbeline, set in Britain’s legendary past, the Roman envoy, Caius Lucius, reminds Cymbeline of the tribute his uncle Cassibelan agreed to pay to Rome. It is the wicked queen and her son Cloten who decline the further payment of tribute to the Roman Empire: LUCIUS: When Julius Caesar . . . was in this Britain, And conquered it, Cassibelan, thine uncle, Famous in Caesar’s praises no whit less Than in his feats deserving it, for him And his succession granted Rome a tribute, Yearly three thousand pounds, which by thee lately Is left untendered. And, to kill the marvel, Q UEEN: Shall be so ever.


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CLOTEN: There will be many Caesars Ere such another Julius. Britain’s a world By itself, and we will nothing pay For wearing our own noses. (3.1.2–14) The British request to be independent from Rome would certainly not have sounded unreasonable to Shakespeare’s audiences. There are several signals, however, by which Shakespeare indicates to the audience that Lucius’ position is in fact correct. The refusal of payment comes from the two wicked characters who take it upon themselves to answer the envoy in the king’s stead. Their foul language is contrasted to the courtesies of Lucius who praises Cassibelan’s ‘feats’ of arms. As the weak king he is, Cymbeline only follows suit: You must know, Till the injurious Romans did extort This tribute from us we were free. Caesar’s ambition . . . against all colour here Did put the yoke upon ’s, which to shake off Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon Ourselves to be. (3.1.46–53) In the context of the rest of the scene and the play, the quality of being ‘warlike’ is almost seen negatively: a warlike people is bound to fight wars, and to suffer gratuitous bloodshed. Cymbeline himself, however, provides a reason why he should be warlike and peaceful at the same time: ‘Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent / Much under him; of him I gathered honour . . .’ (3.1.69–70). In fighting Rome, Cymbeline violates the rules of knighthood, friendship and hospitality. The concept of British nationalism and independence won by means of a military conflict is discredited. Shakespeare is careful to point out, though, that the British were nonetheless distinguished by bravery and prowess: in the battle against the Romans they are victorious. As in Henry V, there is a certain ambiguity as to the appropriateness of patriotic pride. There is no question, however, as to the desirability of peace. King Cymbeline in the end decides to resume paying the ‘wonted tribute’ to Rome. It is because of this decision that peace is not only concluded but will be maintained:

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Publish we this peace To all our subjects. Set we forward, let A Roman and a British ensign wave Friendly together. So through Lud’s Town march, And in the temple of great Jupiter Our peace we’ll ratify; seal it with feasts. Set on there. Never was a war did cease, Ere bloody hands were washed, with such a peace. (5.6.479–86) Just as the other play set in Britain’s legendary past, King Lear, Cymbeline appears to contain topical allusions which might be considered subversive: ancient Rome could well be identified with modern Rome, i.e. Roman Catholicism. Whatever his personal confessional belief, what matters is that Shakespeare’s play to a certain extent supports King James’s political agenda. It is evident, though, that Shakespeare went beyond James in making Cymbeline not just conclude peace but actually submit to Rome.40 James definitely wanted to be free from Rome politically, and Shakespeare may well be criticising James in Cymbeline for not going far enough in his endeavours to promote universal peace. The Tempest, of course, sums up the discourse of peace and reconciliation. The rightful duke is restored to his dukedom within a political order held together by the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda. Unlike Prospero, King James had never been ousted from his throne, but like Prospero he considered himself, and perhaps really was, a very learned man who spent a lot of time in his library. Like Prospero, again, James intended to secure peace by means of dynastic marriages, marrying his daughter Elizabeth to the Elector-Palatine and trying to marry first his son Henry and after Henry’s death his son Charles to a Spanish princess. The main political point of the play, though, is certainly that it is possible to be reconciled to one’s enemies even though these enemies have really been sinful and vicious and may, like Antonio, not even be likely to change. Prospero concludes an alliance with the King of Naples although this king supported his wicked brother. He forgives those who have trespassed against him but he does not turn the other cheek: ‘most wicked sir, whom to call brother / Would even infect my mouth’ (5.1.130–1). The real-life equivalent of Prospero’s magic powers was diplomacy. Even if courts and princes are evil, politics has to go on.


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In his continuous diplomatic efforts to achieve peace, James was careful not to make too many concessions. He always insisted on making peace on his own terms; when this could not be achieved, however, he kept negotiating rather than declaring war. It may jar with received notions of poetic independence to assume that a great author like Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays in the pay of a king, a king despised by many historians for his weakness, his autocratism and his unsympathetic personality. However, once we accept that literature does not happen in any apolitical sphere but takes part in the political discourses of its age and language, we may come to terms with the idea that King James and Shakespeare collaborated on a shared project, a project to which from the point of view of the twenty-first century we may well accord some sympathy. This is not to say, of course, that Shakespeare engaged in mindless adulation. While the king and queen did see performances of Shakespeare’s plays, their target audience obviously included people remote from the court and court politics. It was these Globe theatre audiences whose political outlooks Shakespeare set out to disturb. Neither did Shakespeare merely, and slavishly, follow James’s ideological lead. His visions of universal peace and religious unity probably went much beyond what James would ever have been prepared to accept. Cymbeline’s decision to submit to Rome could well be interpreted as a call to rejoin the Church of Rome and submit to the pope – if this is what Shakespeare intended, his subversive affirmation of court politics contained another layer of anti-constitutional subversion. His attitude may have resembled that of Bishop Richard Corbett (1582–1635), one of the most ardent adherents of Anglican Arminianism in the wake of Andrewes, Hall and Laud, who in the 1620s wrote ‘The Fairies’ Farewell’, a poem which takes a nostalgic look at ‘merry England’s’ Roman Catholic past: Witness those rings and roundelayes Of theirs, which yet remain, Were footed in Queen Mary’s days On many a grassy plain; But since of late, Elizabeth And later James came in, They never danced on any heath As when the time had been.41 To criticise King James for stopping ‘those rings and roundelayes’ is most unfair: in 1618 James promulgated The King’s Majesty’s Declaration

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to His Subjects, concerning Lawful Sports to be Used, known as the Book of Sports, to promote folk customs and defend them against Puritan enmity.42 Corbet, perhaps like Shakespeare, may have felt that James just did not go far enough.

Notes 1. George Macaulay Trevelyan, A Shortened History of England (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987), 280. In Trevelyan’s earlier England under the Stuarts (1904, rev. 1925, London: Methuen, 1965), the tone is much more subdued, although he does speak of the ‘indelible negative impression upon England’ left by the Stuart kings; ibid., 70. 2. Trevelyan, 277–80. Trevelyan’s assertion is not quite correct. James did not so much ‘neglect’ the navy as knowingly condone its corruption because to do otherwise would have undermined the structure of his government (Ros King, privately). 3. The Works of Charles Dickens, ed. Andrew Lang, Gadshill edition, 34 vols., vol. 30 (London: Chapman & Hall, n. d. [1898]), 359–60. 4. See, e.g., Cogswell, Houston, 30–1; Patterson, 357–64; 361, n.110. 5. Houston, 67–70; cf. Patterson, 155–6. 6. Patterson, 293–338. 7. Patterson, 1–3; in a proclamation issued on 12 November 1604 James calls Henri IV of France ‘our good brother The most Christian King’, thus according to a Catholic monarch a title which emphasised his Catholicism. See James F. Larkin and Paul L. Hughes (eds), Stuart Royal Proclamations, vol. I: Royal Proclamations of King James I, 1603–1625 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1973), 98. 8. Patterson, passim. 9. Patterson, 89. 10. Patterson, 95. 11. Patterson, 118. 12. See, e.g., Elizabeth Jenkins, Elizabeth the Great (London: Gollancz, 1958), 265–7, and J. B. Black, The Reign of Elizabeth, 1558–1603, The Oxford History of England (1936, Oxford: Clarendon, 1959), 333–70. 13. Cf., e.g., McCoy, 57, 74f. 14. See, e.g., Trevelyan, England under the Stuarts, 108, 119–20. 15. Stuart Royal Proclamations, I, 30 ; 53–4 ; 91. 16. Stuart Royal Proclamations, I, 91, note 3. 17. ‘Proclamation denouncing Thomas Percy and other his adherents as Traitors’, 7 November 1605, Stuart Royal Proclamations, I, 125–6. 18. Stuart Royal Proclamations, I, 245–6, 249. 19. Cf. S. L. Adams, ‘Foreign Policy and the Parliaments of 1621 and 1624,’ in Kevin Sharpe (ed), Faction and Parliament: Essays on Early Stuart History (Oxford: Clarendon, 1978), 139–71; 140. 20. Houston, 37; for details, see R. C. Munden, ‘James I and ‘‘the growth of mutual distrust’’: King, Commons, and Reform, 1603–1604,’ in Kevin Sharpe (ed), Faction and Parliament, 43–72; 58, 62–6.


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21. Houston, 56–66; cf. Stuart Royal Proclamations, I, 249, where James refers to ‘so many of Our Subjects, who though blinded with the superstitions of Poperie, yet caried a dutifull heart towards our Obedience’. 22. McIlwain, 307. 23. On various interpretations of James’s notion of ‘absolute’ rule cf., e.g., Jenny Wormald, ‘James VI and I, Basilikon Doron and The Trew Law of Free Monarchies: the Scottish Context and the English Translation,’ in Linda Levy Peck (ed), The Mental World of the Jacobean Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 36–54; J. P. Sommerville, ‘James I and the Divine Right of Kings: English Politics and Continental Theory,’ ibid., 55–70; Paul Christianson, ‘Royal and Parliamentary Voices on the Ancient Constitution,’ ibid., 71–95. 24. Cf., e.g., Kevin Sharpe and Peter Lake (eds), Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England (Basingstoke: Macmillan – now Palgrave Macmillan, 1994); on the ambivalences of Jacobean court culture and the issue of peace cf. Malcolm Smuts, ‘Cultural Diversity and Cultural Change at the Court of James I,’ in Peck (ed), The Mental World of the Jacobean Court, 99–112. 25. Houston, 67; on James’s notion of himself as a Roman Emperor see Goldberg. 26. E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1923), vol. 4, 117–30, 168–83. 27. An account of Sir George Hone, Master of the Great Wardrobe, lists the gift of four and a half yards of red cloth to Shakespeare and eight of his fellow-actors ‘against his Majesties sayd royall proceeding through the Citie of London’. See E. K. Chambers, William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1930), vol. 2, 73. 28. Cf. e.g., Gerald Eades Bentley, Shakespeare: A Biographical Handbook (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), 113–14, and Ina Schabert (ed), Shakespeare-Handbuch, 3rd edn. (M¨ unchen: Kr¨ oner, 1992), 160. 29. See, e.g., Fraser and Morse in this volume. 30. See, e.g., J. W. Lever, ‘Introduction,’ Measure for Measure, The Arden Shakespeare (London: Methuen, 1965), xlviii–l. 31. Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988), 65. 32. See, e.g., Brian Gibbons, ‘Introduction,’ Measure for Measure, The New Cambridge Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 37f. 33. See, e.g., Annabel Patterson, Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 106–9. 34. ‘Introduction,’ King Lear, The Arden Shakespeare (Walton-on-Thames: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 15. 35. On the contrast between the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy in scene 1.1 and an identification of Burgundy with the Low Countries cf. Thomas Kullmann, ‘Burgundy in King Lear,’ Deutsche Shakespeare Gesellschaft West: Jahrbuch 1987, 109–13. 36. See, e.g., Foakes, ‘Introduction,’ 127–8, 140–1. 37. ‘Appendix I: Two Textual Problems,’ in Foakes (ed), King Lear, 393–402. 38. According to Stanley Wells, ‘Macbeth is the play of Shakespeare’s that most clearly reflects’ the ‘special relationship [of the King’s Men] with their sovereign’, William Shakespeare, The Complete Works, ed. Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett, William Montgomery, The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford:

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39. 40.

41. 42.


Clarendon, 1986), 1099. On parallels between Macbeth and James’s ideas and interests see, e.g. Kenneth Muir, ‘Introduction,’ Macbeth, The Arden Shakespeare (London: Methuen, 1962), liv–lv. Macbeth, ed. K. Muir, The Arden Shakespeare, 4.1.121, note. This ending may, of course, also allude to James’s habit of presenting himself as a Roman Emperor who, like Caesar Augustus, was free from political interference and could guarantee peace to his unified empire. On this, see King, 80–1. Quoted from: The Faber Book of Children’s Verse, ed. Janet Adam Smith (London: Faber and Faber, 1963), 205–6. See, e.g., Trevelyan, England Under the Stuarts, 140–1, and Leah S. Marcus, ‘Politics and Pastoral: Writing the Court on the Countryside,’ in Sharpe and Lake (eds), Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England, 139–59.

5 Some Social Costs of War Ruth Morse

vae victis Woe to the vanquished. (Livy, History, V.xlviii.9) This is an essay about what makes war, what war makes, what minor characters make of wars and the men who make them, but above all about those who stand and wait in times of war. It addresses the question of how we are to pose our questions with our modern concepts, given how distant is the rhetoric of Shakespeare’s wars, whether those of the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, or those of Thebes and Troy. Shakespeare comprehends the points of view of soldiers, but also of other characters sucked into the maelstrom of public violence, of legal armed conflict. In the course of his evolving career, his characters offer sometimes consistent views of contradictory ideas, and he is always sensitive to the paradox that in the search for the Just War, legitimated by over-arching law, it is not Truth which is War’s first casualty, but Law itself. None of his characters ever finally offers a solution to the problem of discriminating a Just War from anything which is just war. War is always ruin – not only for the vanquished, but in many ways for the victorious also. All of his characters must consider consequences. Arguments about Shakespeare’s engagement throughout the English history plays with the idea of ‘Epic’ occupied many critics after the Second World War, and established commonplaces of controversy (unifying the nation state, good and bad kingship, strength and tyranny, magnanimity and extravagance).1 Epics established ideas about writing war, about war as foundation myth, as passage to immortality, as in some sense the telos of masculine, aristocratic aspiration. Most studies have therefore concentrated on the nobles, ‘the great and the good’. 56

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The great epics, however, always weighed their legendary heroes’ public achievements against the public and private costs of those achievements: being wily or honey-tongued, or even pius were never unalloyed virtues. Dishonesty helped Odysseus to survive and Aeneas to found a new Troy, and if we ignore their evident flaws or the damage done by both men to their companions and consorts, let alone their enemies, we miss the complexity of the poems, and also of the genre. Innocent or not, bystanders are seduced, suffer, and die: whether the character is a spearcarrier or an abandoned princess or goddess, standing by is a dangerous activity. Recent historicist work has expanded the range of enquiry, but even Nick de Somogyi’s fine Shakespeare’s Theatre of War focuses on war’s agents.2 For wars which were just out of reach of living memory – by which I mean audience memory, or inherited memory, or assumed memory – there were contrasting aspects of historical experience: first, discharged soldiers transformed into predators using their variously-honed military skills for brigandage and mendacious mendicancy. Second, there was still memory of the devastated countrysides of northern England and southern Scotland, eastern Ireland and western France, which therefore disgorged their displaced persons on the cities (thus edging toward anti-pastoral). And, third, against the supposedly aristocratic presumptions of epic poetry or handbooks on the Art of War, there was the ugly, patronising attitude that since the poor are always with us, they are also always expendable. When they are poor, the displaced are not just human flotsam and jetsam, at the mercy of social currents, but refuse – Flemings to be pushed into the sea. The third especially, the poor, appear only as the commonest of common soldiers, and have only the briefest of walk-on parts, whether as Falstaff’s pathetic recruits or the men upon whom Henry eavesdrops the night before Agincourt (on stage as the ‘also cast’ as those cast out). But there is another kind of poor, which cuts transversally through society, not those men who ‘work for all’, but their war-impoverished dependents, their wives and daughters, for whom war and its aftermath, like nature’s famines, pestilences, and plagues, creates not a natural, but a cultural disaster. Let me therefore reiterate the two traditional assumptions I wish to avoid: the syllogistic slide from the idea that the genre of war glorifies it, that in glorifying war as the supreme activity of men, it thus simultaneously promotes itself as the king of genres and the assimilation (whether triumphalist or not) of Shakespeare’s English history plays to that genre of war. In what follows I wish to turn from genre to look rather at the way the plays insistently suggest a background which foregrounds itself to


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ask that we notice, that we take more care of these, not only throughout the two English historical tetralogies, but elsewhere as well.3 One of the ways we recognise Shakespeare’s concentration upon the unimportant characters, the suffering patients of the agents of war, is the way they emerge, idiosyncratically, in his contributions to collaborative plays. This chapter will compare three of them with single-authored plays. The extract we identify as Hand D in the play Sir Thomas More appeals as Shakespeare’s in part because of its unusual point of view. Shakespeare, or rather, his character, More, offers prolepsis as restraining argument. When More asks his listeners to imagine the fleeing poor, he supplies them with a future counter-factual mental picture. It may be objected that riots are not war, but my point is the characteristic use of image as argument, a rhetoric of recontextualisation, and Shakespeare’s ability to surprise by point of view, reversal, or revivified rhetorical trope. More asks if these are the consequences we desire; rhetorically speaking, in the exercise of dialogic argument, is this an action ‘worthy to be done’? In what follows I am interested in the rhetoric which surrounds what we might now call the ‘social costs’ of war and its concomitant violence. By opening with More, I hope to invite reconsideration of what constitutes ‘war’ and its surroundings (pillage, for example, or the punishment of the defeated or the fleeing). Riots are civil disorder, but would not have been considered as like ‘war’ in the literary sense because they are internal disruption, what Sir Edmund Tilney, as censor, tendentiously called ‘insurrection’ or ‘mutiny’, little local difficulties inflicted on aliens, guest-workers, foreigners among us, ‘wretched strangers’ being robbed (only call it confiscation), expelled, beaten in the streets.4 Uprisings or revolts (those preludes to civil war), however, remind us how close chastising riots can be to the breakdown of the commonwealth, internalising the external, which is, indeed, part of More’s point.5 He even conflates the vocabularies which are familiar to the play’s blue-pencilling censor, Tilney. More’s choices of words implicitly move the argument (I italicise the telltale words): To kneel to be forgiven Is safer wars than ever you can make, Whose discipline is riot . . . What rebel captain, As mut’nies are incident, by his name Can still the rout? Who will obey a traitor?

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Or how can well that proclamation sound, When there is no addition but ‘a rebel’ To qualify a rebel? You’ll put down strangers, Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses, And lead the majesty of law in lyam To slip him like a hound – alas, alas! Say now the King, As he is clement if th’offender mourn, Should so much come too short of your great trespass As but to banish you: whither would you go? What country, by the nature of your error Should give you harbour? (123–5, 128–42) The imaginative conclusion is that the mutineers will discover that in banishment they too ‘must needs be strangers’ (130) driven to seek asylum ‘in a nation of such barbarous temper’ (131) so that the breakdown of law and order will come full circle. The argument is certainly complete, and it convinces More’s audience. What is striking is the way the assumptions of legality are built into the description, including a short but pithy demonstration of the difference between natural rights and contractual, therefore rescindable, agreements. The idea that the breaking of laws hitherto respected as natural will engender the breaking of social bonds is ancient, but also contemporary. My first example thus begins with a pictured flight, of imagined consequences which More shares with the Master of the Revels, to call attention to assumed categories. Alerting ourselves to our own categories, examining our terminology and thinking about how it may have shifted, semantically, from the sixteenth century, always requires a certain degree of attention to the obvious. I have just used the current phrase, ‘seek asylum’, which revivifies an old, sacral ideal, specific to claiming the sanctuary of the altar; in that sense the claimant partook of inviolate holy space. In Shakespeare’s day ‘refuge’ had not yet given us ‘refugee’, and ‘victim’ (like ‘holocaust’) was still associated with religious sacrifice, almost always of animals; that is to say that there is teleology implied in the idea that the sacrifice was for something, part of some kind of petition or propitiation. Our much-used ‘victim’ is entirely absent from Shakespeare’s plays.6 He uses ‘fugitive’ only three times, with an implication not just of ‘refugee’, but also of ‘deserter’, which returns us to More’s legal orientation. Joan La Pucelle seduces Burgundy by predicting that


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once the English have no further need of him he will be ‘thrust out like a fugitive’ (1 Henry VI, 3.3.67).7 The retreating Parthians are ‘fugitive’ in Antony and Cleopatra (3.1.7), and, more accusingly, Enobarbus uses the term when he calls himself ‘a master leaver and a fugitive’ (4.10.21).8 In the large, connotative sense, there is the implication of losing the law’s protection which More extends to losing the social agreement which also protects the law. Like Machiavelli’s challenge to the pieties of political power, Shakespeare inconveniently recurs to the pity of war not by a simple act of reversing, but by recontextualising the proper of war, and asking us to look at an image of that horror. In his day men knew that war was hell, but that was not the main thrust of their thinking, or writing, about it. The topos of rhetorical training, ‘honourable or dishonourable to be done’ always invited complex demurrals. I would hazard that one essential quality in all strategic writing about war, which distinguishes Shakespeare on war’s alarms by its absence, is an almost complete lack of surprise.

Belligerents Recontextualising also implies attention to the presuppositions from which arguments, as descriptions, depart. Defining the categories of persons involved also asks us to think about the ways that apparently peripheral characters may nonetheless be central to the events described. Our modern vocabulary of persons not directly engaged in warfare has had to be extended from pre-existing vocabularies denoting, as the norm, fighting men. War is supremely the experience where the contradictions inherent in our beliefs are acute, unresolvable, and fatal. The ontology (and not just the telos) of those who ‘fight for all’ (to use the medieval language of the three estates) ruins not only their own estate, but also the earthly and earthy estates of those who pray for all and those many more who work for all. Some further verbal examples will indicate the extent of changes in the course of the last hundred years. ‘Civilian’, not surprisingly, emerged as a nineteenth-century usage, and we need to be alert to the semantic peregrinations of ‘civil’ itself. Romeo and Juliet’s opening sonnet plays with the two derivations, from ‘civitas’ and the city behaviour we account ‘civilised’: ‘where civil blood makes civil hands unclean’. If we needed ‘civilian’ it was as an addition to ‘citizen’, not unlike the way ‘casualty’ moved from its aleatory denotation, ‘casual’ or ‘chance’, to something we no longer think of as chance except for the unlucky individual, or ‘civilian’. ‘Non-combatant’, as would still have been obvious a generation

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ago, when national service – if not taken for granted – was still a fact of life in Britain, or France, or the United States, did not originally designate those unfortunate enough to live in territory laid to the sword, but those members of fighting forces who did not fight: men of religion or medicine, or the inevitable musicians who were integral to armies. Even the OED’s first definition is striking: ‘one who is not a combatant, as a civilian in time of war; spec. in the army and navy, one whose duties do not include that of fighting, as a surgeon, purser, or chaplain’. The idea of trailing camp followers, portative dependent whores, cooks, or farriers, escapes the great dictionary, product of an age of state-organised armies.9 The examples given are earlier in the twentieth century for the first definition, much later for the second. Shakespeare’s English armies carry both definitions. As other contributors to this volume have shown, Fluellen’s outrage over the killing of the baggage boys in Henry V is one of those places where, at least in the Folio text of the play, Shakespeare muddies the waters, giving two interpretations for the historical Henry’s order to kill the French prisoners. It is Gower who interprets the order as revenge for the boys and for the sacking of the king’s tent (4.7.5–11). Henry’s command – in the previous scene – is more opaque, stemming historically from a fear of being over-run by the enemy, who could be reinforced by prisoners within the camp (4.6.35–8); that is, the ‘external’ is, at least temporarily, ‘internal’, and the legalities varied, depending on what could be enforced, and who won. The customs of quarter and ransom were old, but so was the duty of prisoners to revolt if they could. Since the unidentified French soldiers loot as well as kill, it would seem that, far from being a strategic attack, their unlawful or at least ‘unjust’ killing of non-combatants illustrates rather the breakdown of military organisation or control. It constitutes the kind of riot against which More warned. Not only is ‘the’ law not clear, it is not clear to what ‘law’ one might appeal. And the poor had their own customs, though we seldom see them in literature; one well-known exception is Malory’s scene after the final Arthurian battle when Arthur’s men need urgently to spirit the dying king away, because ‘the churls’ are already in the battlefield, robbing and killing the dying or dead. Thus far, of course, we are only looking at males, young and not so young, and at a contested, but largely positive, evaluative-descriptive world in which soldiers are still valorous and wars appeal to the traditions of epic achievement, secular man’s heroic calling to corporate glory in victory and individual valiance in defeat. It is hard to replace modern negativities about the futilities and destruction of war, the impossibility


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of ‘playing the game’, with another kind of surprise which we may experience in rediscovering the semantic shifts which took place under the effects and extent of the last century’s global warfare. It was during the Second World War that words, now familiar from the terrifying advance in the vocabulary of victimhood, burgeoned and extended their scope. ‘The refugees . . . or, as they term these people here . . . the Displaced Persons’ in 1944 and, a year later, ‘The real difficulty was and is the care of the slave laborers, men, women and children . . .’ who are now called DPs.10 We also need to historicise ‘Prisoners ‘‘of war’’ ’, because that is not a usage hallowed by time and epic. How are we to discuss ‘exchange’ of prisoners, hostages, refugees, les sinistr´es of war, and does it matter when or where the ‘returns’ occur? What of the ‘atrocities’ committed against those who never returned? The OED knows no such association before the propaganda of the Great War, after the invasion of Belgium in 1914. The dictionary cites Wilfred Owen in 1918, ‘I have found in all these villages no evidence of German atrocities. The girls here were treated with perfect respect’, although an illustrative quotation from a poet should also alert us to the bias toward literary sources which is so much a characteristic of the OED as it is of memory.11 Capture and captivity evolved, and bring us to the problem of exchange, and of value. Sparta’s ‘with your shield or on it’ affected to make no distinctions in how one was captured. One was not captured. Emasculation, slavery, and execution were what the vanquished could expect. They were booty. There was, however, regular exchange of captured soldiers, as there was agreement about the taking, release, and execution of hostages. By the time of the medieval poems of war, at Thebes or Troy, and in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, there is a disreputable exchange of Antenor against Criseyde, a traitor for a traitor’s daughter, a woman neither aristocratic, nor a soldier, nor a Greek. In Shakespeare’s play, Calchas’s request at the beginning of 3.3 is obsequiously unpleasant. Calchas speaks of ‘buying’ his daughter (3.3.28). Later, Paris more politely expresses it as ‘to render him / For the enfreed Antenor, the fair Cressid’ (4.1.38–9). But Paris’s interest is in Helen, and he challenges Diomed as to who is the worthier possessor of that prize. Diomed’s angry (and illegitimate) disparagement of her ‘contaminated carrion weight’ as the sole cause of war, earns the rebuff ‘you do as chapmen do, / Dispraise the thing that you desire to buy’. In claiming the corresponding virtue, ‘We’ll not commend what we intend to sell’, Paris also insults Cressida as merchandise (4.1.76–9). Both women are reduced to things exchangeable for cash. As Diana Henderson also argues later in this volume pp. 231ff, monetarising value is always parlous

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in Shakespeare. Neither Shakespeare’s Troy nor his Greek camp is pretty, but part of what constitutes their ugliness turns on what we must recognise as traffic in women, sullying the argument of war. Christianity was supposed to have brought certain improvements in the ‘laws’ of war, and to have discouraged the murder, castration, or enslavement of the vanquished, taken for granted in the ancient world. Shakespeare is largely silent about this development, with his remarkable restraint, or self-discipline, about the alterity of those times. Quick recourse to the Harvard Concordance reveals that ‘hostage’ appears only in plays set in Antiquity, where there were agreements about how these exchanges were conducted, and only in the strict sense (Coriolanus, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Antony and Cleopatra, Titus Andronicus). Woe, indeed, to the vanquished.

The vanquished There are inevitably, to paraphrase recent debates, civilian casualties as well as military ones. Much turns on the agreements which comprised at least the idea that there might be conventions in warfare long before the formalities of Geneva. Edward III is a kind of ‘rhetorical reader’ in the conduct of war, which includes the French Prince Charles attempting to persuade Villiers to break his parole (4.3.37–44). Other contributors to this volume have dealt with Henry V’s harshness before the walls of Harfleur, following on, perhaps, from the merciless siege warfare of Tamburlaine, from the wrong readings represented by Parolles in All’s Well That Ends Well or the treachery of Much Ado About Nothing. Edward III contains a contrasting scene at the siege of Calais, which asks us to think hard about some French enemies. A number of poor citizens come to ask Edward’s mercy after they have been expelled by the ‘captain of the town, . . . That so expense of victuals may be saved’. The following dialogue ensues: KING EDWARD: A charitable deed, no doubt, and worthy praise! But how do you imagine then to speed? We are your enemies, in such a case We can no less but put you to the sword, Since, when we proffered truce, it was refused. FIRST POOR MAN: And if your grace no otherwise vouchsafe, As welcome death is unto us as life. KING EDWARD: Poor silly men, much wronged, and more distressed! Go, Derby, go, and see they be relieved,


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Command that victuals be appointed them And give to everyone five crowns apiece. The lion scorns to touch the yielding prey, And Edward’s sword must flesh itself in such As wilful stubborness hath made perverse. (4.2.12–35) This, of course, offers us a contrast to the scene we know as ‘the burghers of Calais’, and their public humiliation, saved by the intervention of a merciful woman among the victorious, Queen Philippa (5.1.54–5). Shakespeare rings his changes: it is the Dauphin who is unable to relieve Harfleur, the French king who fails Calais. Froissart originates the story of the Burghers of Calais, which makes me more willing to believe in Queen Philippa’s intervention (Philippa of Hainault apparently counts as English), without claiming to assimilate it to gendered mercy. Gender does have its place, and its variety in terms of social status. I want to offer some examples of combatant women who become non-combatant, and vice versa. The Two Noble Kinsmen gives us several different kinds of example. Theseus’s marriage procession is interrupted by three queens. At least, they were queens; now they are widows, wretches, their husbands killed in a war in the ‘foul fields of Thebes’ against ‘cruel Creon’, who has refused the burial of their bodies. As they kneel before Theseus, his Amazonian queen, Hippolyta, and her sister Emilia, the stage image becomes an argument for the law of war, in a situation where there is no law, not even customary respect for the dead. They appeal ‘For pity’s sake and true gentility’s’. One might expect Amazons to be Amazons, and fight, against the presumptions of gender, but they do not. The second queen, addressing Hippolyta as ‘soldieress’, remarks that Theseus in marrying her has ‘shrunk thee into / The bound thou wast o’erflowing, at once subduing / Thy force and thy affection’ (TNK 1.1.1–85). Emilia herself takes up the theme of speaking pictures: . . . If that you were EMILIA: The ground-piece of some painter, I would buy you T’instruct me ’gainst a capital grief, indeed Such heart-pierced demonstration; but alas, Being a natural sister of our sex, Your sorrow beats so ardently upon me

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That it shall make a counter-reflect ’gainst My brother’s heart and warm it to some pity, Though it were made of stone. (1.1.121–9) ‘Mercy’ in this scene means taking pity on the widows by helping them in their struggle against ‘cruel’ Creon. Rereading these lines, it strikes me as ‘correct’ that the queens ask the Amazons not for their right arms in battle, but for their influence on Theseus. In this the queens are good strategists, and in their urgent appeal they mention that Creon, drunk with victory, will provide a sitting duck target, ‘his army full / Of bread and sloth’ (1.1.158–9). In King Edward III, in a modern, Christian, world, we have an example of a non-combatant, a woman, forced by siege into a more active war role, not fighting, but commanding her castle – as, indeed, the Paston women did in the fifteenth century’s civil broils.12 The Countess of Salisbury worries that her messenger lacks the eloquence that we have just seen in the speaking pictures of misery. Given that King David and Douglas are already arguing about who gets the lady (and her jewels) once they have captured the castle, we might think here of a pre-misery, except that the eaves-dropping Countess is there before us (1.2.62–4). Careful reading of the metaphoric love/war passages reveals, by their absence, a number of possible courtly-love comparisons which Shakespeare rarely exploits. In his plays of war the language of wooing is almost always undercut by the language of virtue. Pole’s capture of Margaret of Anjou in 1 Henry VI (5.5) is an important exception, and I shall suggest a second at the end of this essay, in patri- and fili-cide. Margaret repeatedly asks him for the terms of her imprisonment or ransom while he stands debating with himself, since he is married, as to whether he can take her as a paramour and whether she would accept. Pole’s eroticised prison is a sign of self-indulgence, failure to master himself and, therefore, a condemnation, expressed theatrically in humour: she misunderstands the debate he is having with himself; he cannot find an excuse that is not ‘wooden’; she remarks, ‘He talks of wood, It is some carpenter’ (5.5.45–6). Edward III, by contrast, refers to the countess as an empress, but not to himself as her hostage or prisoner (2.2.38–9); and although he once says, ‘That very smile of hers / Hath ransomed captive France, and set the king, / The Dauphin, and the peers at liberty’ (2.2.103–5), he is speaking only of his delay. Ransom generally means prisoner-exchange, as it does with Pistol and Le Fer before Agincourt in Henry V, or the Dauphin’s


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three messages to the Prince of Wales in Edward III Act 4 before Cr´ecy: ransom, escape on a fast horse, preparation for death. The only serious question of a possible ransom comes when the Earl of Salisbury asks his prisoner, Villiers, for a safe-conduct to Calais (4.1), which Villiers grants. The honour of this action implicates the honour of the Dauphin Charles when he dissuades his father, King John, from ignoring the safe-conduct and hanging Salisbury, in double derogation (4.5). King Edward points the moral when King John demands to know how much ransom Edward will ask: But had you done at first as now you do, How many civil towns had stood untouched That now are turned to ragged heaps of stones? How many people’s lives mightst thou have saved That are untimely sunk into their graves? (5.1.202–6) Here, too, the rhetoric of reproach, including the familiar double pun on ‘civil’, asks us to think about the issues which inform the plays of war. At each stage in ‘unjust’ proceedings, characters’ arguments assume rhetorical positions in an old-fashioned kind of representation. A royal offence against the disciplines of ransom justifies rebellion in 1 Henry IV, where the king seems all too happy to leave Mortimer in ‘Wales, / there without ransom to lie forfeited’ (4.3.97–8). It is not clear that this can be called a legal point in the state of law, but part of the pity of war is the way laws are summarily suspended, and men summarily executed.

Vae victis One sequent aspect of war and war’s alarms is confusion. Under the cover of riot and war many violences and violations are possible, and hidden. My last example considers the capture of a war leader in the context of the invasion of a foreign army which is also a civil war, conflating external and internal, and an imprisonment which leads not to ransom, but to murder. This is a rare subject in Shakespeare. There are a few possible examples in the English histories, and one might reach back to Marlowe, to consider Bajazet or Edward II before moving to Richard II or the contrasting, legitimating, battle-death of Richard III. To return to the idea of the image as rhetorical demonstration, let me evoke the double image of civil war which marked the Henry VI plays, with a son carrying the body of his father, and the father carrying the

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body of his son. King Lear ends with the apotheosis of this most personal consequence of war. We do not always put Cordelia in the category of prisoners executed against the disciplines of war, but that is, among all the other things, her legal position. As a foreign princess, she ought, like Edward III’s prisoners, to enjoy the privileges of her status. However, like George of Clarence barring his brother’s path, the native princess threatens her sisters who need – like Richard of Gloucester – to get her out of the way. But there is nothing judicial about her murder, nor can she fight, as Richard II does, against the shameful, excruciating, criminal’s humiliation her humiliated, aged father cannot stop. Lear ‘might have saved her’, he says (in both versions), but the tenses Shakespeare gives him suggest that his interference is not revenge, but something much worse. Lear says, ‘I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee’, with a verb whose grammatical aspect is continuous action. While Cordelia was hanging, then, not after she was hanged. Perhaps Lear’s actions here, too, have brought about what he so desired to halt, and his cry against ‘murderous traitors’ (or ‘murderers, traitors’) projects an accusation against himself. Does Shakespeare, beyond his characters, have views about the sufferers from the effects of war? It is clear that some plays seem to privilege arguments which tend to reinforce honourable behaviour in war, where ‘honourable’ can also include devastating actions, such as destroying rebellious castles or fortified towns. He did not have our vocabulary, with all its new, necessary distinctions about the particular kinds and statuses of war’s victims. His characters exploit what seem to be legal, conventional, and regular agreements. He did not imagine industrial slaughter. But he knew that the fate of one victim awakens the imagination to pity, if not to fear, and that the aggregate of many fates amounts to a largescale discussion of war and war’s alarms. All, I think, that we can say, is that the heads of argument are clear enough, and define what would elsewhere be Fluellen’s favourite topic, the ‘disciplines’ of war. But by dramatising, at different times, through different characters, the acts and arguments of war, Shakespeare’s achievement is to complicate such discussion, because of the variety and complexity of the horror he images.13

Notes 1. These arguments are resumed in numerous places; see e.g. Rackin; Nicholas Grene, Shakespeare’s Serial History Plays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Ronald Knowles, Shakespeare’s Arguments with History (NY and Basingstoke: Palgrave – now Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).


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2. In the rather different context of war conceptualised in terms of the theatre, Somogyi cites Camden’s note ‘that a number of English troops ‘‘feigning themselves to be fugitives’’, lured many of the besieging enemy to their deaths at Bergen op Zoom in 1588’ (97) as well as contemporary worries over ‘masterless men’, including boasters such as Pistol (142–6). 3. See Griffin; Ruth Morse, ‘Telling the Truth with Authority: from Richard II to Richard II,’ Common Knowledge 4 (1995), 111–28. 4. Tilney’s comments – and More’s – are quoted from The Riverside Shakespeare, 1683–1700. For a longer discussion, see Jeffrey Masten, ‘More or Less: Editing the Collaborative’, Shakespeare Studies 29 (2001), 109–31. 5. ‘ . . . you had taught/ How insolence and strong hand should prevail,/ How order should be quelled – and by this pattern/ Not one of you should live an ag`ed man,/ For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought/ with selfsame hand, self reasons, and self right/ Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes/ Would feed on one another’ (Hand D, 89–96). 6. See Laurie Maguire’s brilliant discussion of ‘victims’ and ‘abuse’, in her ‘Performing Anger: The Anatomy of Abuse(s) in Troilus and Cressida,’ Renaissance Drama 31 (2002), 153–83. 7. Michael Hattaway’s note in the Cambridge edition simply glosses as ‘exile’, ‘refugee’ or ‘deserter’. Andrew Cairncross’s Arden 2 (1962) recalls ‘a runaway slave with no standing or rights’. 8. David Bevington annotates using our modern collocation, ‘fugitive from the law’. We can trace this association back to Kittredge in 1941, ‘Enobarbus is willing to be ranked with fugitive slaves and masterless vagabonds’ (the only citation in the New Variorum Antony and Cleopatra, ed. Marvin Spevack for the Modern Language Association, 1990). 9. Thus it may be worth mentioning that ‘conscientious objector’, a coinage adapted from its original opposition to inoculation, is a Great War innovation, necessarily dependent upon Armed Forces recruitment as well as Protestant appeals to individual moral interpretation. 10. OED (suppl. s.v. ‘displaced’) and John Ayto, Twentieth Century Words (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), who compares this use to ‘stateless’, 271, 241. 11. Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975) makes this point throughout. 12. Benjamin Griffin studies the context of historical romance for the figure of the Countess in a series of plays (110ff). 13. More than the usual thanks are due in the long evolution of this muchshortened essay: I acknowledge the careful reading and fertile suggestions of Stefan Collini, the members of the Utrecht seminar, and the acute interventions of the volume editors.

Part II Rhetoric of War

‘When he speaks not like a citizen, you find him like a soldier’ (Coriolanus, 3.3.53)

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6 Henry V and the Performance of War R. Scott Fraser

From the opening Chorus, with its reference to Mars, the God of war, Henry V is most obviously concerned with the re-enactment of the military exploits of its eponymous hero. Inevitably, criticism of the play tends to focus on the political evaluation of the manner in which Henry conducts his kingship and campaign. So, for Stephen Greenblatt, the play ‘deftly registers every nuance of royal hypocrisy, ruthlessness, and bad faith’.1 In reply, critics such as Robin Headlam Wells go so far as to state: ‘Ruthless, Henry undoubtedly is, but to accuse him of bad faith is to deny him his most outstanding and most dangerous characteristic, namely his frank and single-minded fidelity to his cause . . . Henry is a man inspired by a heroic ideal’.2 Most famously, Norman Rabkin has claimed that ‘in Henry V Shakespeare created a work whose ultimate power is precisely the fact that it points in two opposite directions, virtually daring us to choose one of the two opposed interpretations it requires of us’.3 Yet such emphatic viewpoints are derived from the character in isolation, as separate from the play’s narrative structure and the audience’s interpretation of the character within that structure. The extant textual evidence points to a similar division of viewpoints. The first quarto of 1600 differs radically from the Folio version of 1623. Traditionally dismissed by editors as ‘bad’, the quarto is much shorter and consistently removes negative aspects of Henry’s character. In contrast, the Folio text presents a much more complex figure of the king. As Andrew Gurr has put it in The First Quarto of Henry V, The history of ideas about the relationship between Q1 and F is complex, though it does show an intermittent evolution towards the idea that Q may have some authority, if not as an authorial text then as a 71


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performance text. The Folio, however, is the text that from the 1660s onwards always formed the basis for stage productions. In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries Henry V was the play most studied in schools, especially for its Choruses and Henry’s two great speeches, Harfleur and the band of brothers. Only one of those highlights is in the quarto text.4 But Gurr’s assertion that the quarto is ‘probably closer to the version of the play that Shakespeare’s company first put on the stage in 1599 than any form of the play that modern audiences have seen’ (2), remains to be proven. Indeed, while editors such as Gary Taylor acknowledge the possibility of the quarto being a promptbook, they tend to see it as a memorial reconstruction rather than an authorised text.5 Both editors agree that the Folio was set from an authorial manuscript, and is therefore closer to the text as Shakespeare wrote it for his company. It is the Folio which becomes, in Gurr’s terminology, a ‘maximal’ text – produced with the knowledge that any performance would employ a truncated or ‘minimal’ version of it.6 While it is generally true that the more one includes from the Folio, the more ambiguous Henry becomes, the above also serves to highlight an aspect of the play which is often overlooked in criticism: the importance of the performance of the siege of Harfleur as part of a narrative and image pattern which runs formally throughout the Folio text of Henry V. In this chapter, I will look closely at the way that siege is presented as a means of understanding its importance to the formal construction of the text. What that construction says about the performance of warfare should help us understand the divergence in critical and directorial opinion about Henry as king, and the play as a whole. To understand the importance of the siege, it is necessary to begin this reading with the Chorus’s speech: ‘Then should the warlike Harry, like himself / Assume the port of Mars’ (Prologue, 6–7, my emphasis).7 The rhetoric here creates intangible slippage between the actor playing the king and the historical king fulfilling himself by playing the role of archetypal war leader, while glancing perhaps at other theatrical representations of the king on stage. It goes on to point to the overall inadequacy of theatrical performance in reproducing the historical event (‘Can this cock-pit hold / The vasty fields of France?’). In an acknowledgement of this impossibility, the Chorus implores the audience to employ its ‘imaginary forces’ and ‘thoughts’, ‘For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our Kings’ (Prologue, 11–12, 18, 23, 28). Pamela Mason has interpreted the speech in a typically contemporary way:

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The priority in Henry V is not with exploring character but rather in the play’s profound consideration of the theatrical construct. Shakespeare’s investment in his choric architecture insists upon an intellectual engagement with the process whereby a creative partnership can be forged between stage and audience. The speech which opens Henry V presents in the form of an uncompromising direct address to its audience Shakespeare’s dramatic manifesto.8 While the metatheatricality of the speech is undeniable, I would argue that it goes beyond a statement of dramatic intent to an implicit statement of historical purpose: the theatrical construct is a metaphor for the interrogation of chronicle history and previous literary and dramatic presentations of the king. Harry is ‘like’ himself, as the audience knows him from Hall and Holinshed. But at the outset of Shakespeare’s Henry V we have an acknowledgement of the impossibility of the accurate reconstruction of an historical figure or event. We are asked to ‘Admit me Chorus to this history/ Who Prologue-like your humble patience pray/ Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play’ (Prologue, 32–4, my emphasis) and are then presented with a Chorus who, having been ‘like’ a Prologue is only ‘like’ a Chorus in that he ironically draws attention throughout the play to the disparity between the stage action proper and his own descriptions of Henry. Certainly this is why Gurr feels the Chorus is absent from the quarto (11). But it must be noted that it is a disparity that is reproduced throughout the Folio, with references to various forms of historical records and reported offstage action juxtaposed with what is performed before the audience. It is the gap between these two which puts the audience in the position of judge of the play as a performance, and of the king’s actions and the performance of war. And just as the audience interrogates the performance the play presents, the play itself interrogates its own historical sources. A case in point occurs in the very first scene between Canterbury and Ely, which is absent from the quarto, largely one suspects because of what it says about the nature of and rationale for the war. Here the two men discuss what is, in effect, the church’s bribe of financial support for the invasion in order to prevent the loss of half of its land. To avoid that loss, Canterbury will, ‘As touching France . . . give a greater sum / Than ever at one time the clergy yet / Did to his predecessors part withal’ (1.1.80–3). It is interesting that it is this corrupt Archbishop who voices in this very same scene a litany of praise for Henry, which is unequalled throughout the play. Not only does his corruption impugn his support for the war, it calls into question the kind of praise found in Shakespeare’s sources.


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Interestingly, Holinshed only praises Henry after he has reported his deeds. In Shakespeare, praise is uttered at the beginning, by a character whose rhetoric, as we have already seen, is unreliable. And as the play unfolds, its dramaturgy further problematises our responses. In the Folio, the ambiguity surrounding Henry’s claims is ironically reinforced in the Salic Law speech – the only justification for the war in the play. Given that this is uttered by Canterbury, whose motives are now clear to us, we must immediately question its veracity. Its very length and complexity ensures that we hear it as duplicity masquerading as truth. Thus, when Henry asks, ‘May I with right and conscience make this claim?’ and Canterbury replies, ‘The sin upon my head dread sovereign’ (1.2.96–7), we know he is speaking truer than he intends. More importantly, the king has, for the first time, stage-managed a scene in which the justification for the war is put on another’s head. Lest the audience forget the corruption of that head, Canterbury then repeats the bribe in public, including all of Henry’s soldiers in his imagery of death: ‘O let their bodies follow, my dear liege, / With blood and sword and fire, to win your right’ (1.2.130–2). The bill regarding the confiscation of church lands is not mentioned. Henry has religious and financial backing for his war against the French. And the Archbishop has initiated a train of verbal imagery of religious reference, blood, and mutilation, which runs throughout the play. If Canterbury’s mention of his own decapitation begins the process in the scene, however, it is Henry who, in response to the Dauphin’s taunt, gives the first full articulation of such war: . . . for many a thousand widows Shall this his mock mock out of their dead husbands, Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down; Ay, some are yet ungotten and unborn, That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin’s scorn. (1.2.284–8) This combining of imagery and narrative pattern most obviously prefigures the speech at the siege of Harfleur, where Henry tells the Governor of the town, that if he does not surrender, The gates of mercy shall be shut up, And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart, In liberty of bloody hand shall range

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With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass Your fresh fair virgins and your flow’ring infants. What is it then to me if impious war Arrayed in flames like to the prince of fiends Do with his smirched complexion all fell feats Enlinked to waste and desolation? What is’t to me, when you yourselves are cause, If your pure maidens fall into the hand Of hot and forcing violation? (3.3.87–98) Here, Henry defines himself as a rapacious soldier, and employs the same verbal tactic he has used with the clergy, the Dauphin, and indeed the traitors, blaming others for the violent nature of his bloody war (‘you yourself are the cause’). Just as Canterbury was asked to justify that war, with any blame for an unjust action falling on him, and the Dauphin accused of being the cause for the terror of the war, now it is the Governor of the town who will be blamed for the violence of the king’s action. And should it not be clear enough, Henry repeats and expands his scope in the same manner as did Canterbury, to include all of the men of Harfleur in the blame, while implying that all of his soldiers are indeed like their king. They all must surrender, If not – why, in a moment look to see The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters; Your fathers taken by the silver beards, And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls; Your naked infants spitted upon pikes, Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry At Herod’s bloody-hunting slaughtermen. What say you? Will you yield, and this avoid? Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroyed? (3.3.110–20) All of the men of Harfleur will be ‘guilty in defence’ if Henry’s men violate the town and its inhabitants; and therefore Henry is but one of many, and not to blame. Just as the biblical Herod was one of the


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‘bloody-hunting slaughtermen’, Henry will now be forced to act in the same manner if the men of Harfleur do not capitulate.9 To appreciate fully the wider significance of this speech and of the siege itself, it is necessary to consider the scene in both its literary and historical context. In terms of literary trope, the siege is of significant allegorical importance in medieval literature. One thinks most immediately of Le Roman de la rose and its application of the siege as a sexual metaphor, or of the La¨ıs of Marie de France; and in English theatrical terms of the Castle of Perseverance, with its allegory of the soul and its fusillade of flowers. According to Malcolm Hebron, not only did Chroniclers concentrate on dramatising sieges: Commentators on the scriptures employ extended siege imagery of their own in explicating a variety of passages. Preachers and authors of homilies use the siege as a picture of the soul endangered by sin, a device also employed frequently in religious poetry and moral dramas. The symbolic properties of sieges are further explored by poets writing allegories and love lyrics, in their descriptions of the travails of the lover, and the beloved beleaguered by his advances . . .10 The deviation from the trope in Henry V is the employment of imagery of neither love, nor sexuality, nor the soul; but of slaughter and of rape. One might argue that such rhetoric is simply a necessary part of ending such a siege in a play which is much more graphic than any of its medieval predecessors; or that the rhetoric serves to end the siege without further violence. For example, Katharine Eisaman Maus puts it as follows: On the face of it, it might seem surprising for a general to characterize his own troops as rapists and murderers. Yet Henry’s tactics are entirely deliberate: by describing his soldiers’ potential victims as members of families – as daughters, fathers, infants, mothers – he heightens the impact of their violence. The rampaging army, he implies, will shatter not merely individuals, but whole networks of affiliation. The speech effectively intimidates his auditors, who give up without a fight.11 While the speech undoubtedly strikes fear into his ‘auditors’, this reading ignores the Governor’s reason for surrender, found both in the chronicle sources and the play, which is that the Dauphin reports that his troops are not ready to raise the siege. Henry is therefore invited to ‘Enter our gates, dispose of us and ours, / For we are no longer defensible’ (3.3.121–7).

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Ironically, then, the violent speech that Shakespeare gives Henry is unnecessary. It is present, I think, because it subverts the behaviour of the commander of this particular siege. For not only is the proper behaviour of the commander essential to the medieval literary convention,12 but sources regarding Henry’s behaviour in war do not present him in this way. For example, even a history as propagandistic as the anonymous and popular Gesta Henrici Quinti, written just before and in order to garner support for the second invasion of France,13 is careful to present Henry’s behaviour during the siege as calm, rational, and following a Christian course. What is further interesting in this particular case is that Holinshed does not report such a speech in his account of the siege of Harfleur. Rather, following the description of several third-party interchanges of diplomacy, he only refers to the distress caused after the sacking: . . . The soldiers were ransomed and the town sacked, to the great gain of the Englishmen. Some writing of this yielding up of Harfleur do in like sort make mention of the distress whereto the people, then expelled out of their habitations, were driven; insomuch as parents with their children, young maids, and old folk went out of the gates with heavy hearts (God wot), as put to their present shifts to seek them a new abode . . . (127–8)14 Though here one finds children, maids, and old folk ‘with heavy heart’, it is hardly the image of carnage and rape found in Henry’s speech. It would appear that Shakespeare has to go to Henry’s second invasion of France to find even a hint of a darker and more arrogant commander. In Holinshed, it is not until the siege of Rouen that we have a hint of the kind of rhetoric found in Henry V: And as for the poor people lying in the ditches, if they died through famine the fault was theirs that like cruel tyrants had put them out of the town, to the intent he should slay them; and yet had he saved their lives, so that if any lack of charity was, it rested not in him . . . And as to assault the town, he told them that he would they should know he was both able and willing thereto, as he should see occasion; but the choice was in his hand to tame them either with Blood, Fire, or Famine, or with them all; whereof he would take the choice at his pleasure and not at theirs. (130–2) While here we find what may be the germ for the king employing the same rhetorical strategy as Shakespeare’s character (that of putting others


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in the position of determining the nature of the action he will take in war), we still do not have the extreme language of rape and carnage found in Shakespeare’s play; and though both the official and unofficial medieval sources may be seen as more sceptical of Henry than the dramatisations of his life in Shakespeare’s day, the king found at the siege of Harfleur in Shakespeare’s Henry V is much darker than any previous dramatic or chronicle presentation of him.15 Further, while the kind of behaviour that Henry describes often did occur following a siege, and was even justified in medieval law, it was questionable in the period in which the play was first performed. As Theodor Meron notes, there was a clear distinction between the treatment of those captured in battle, and those captured after a siege: Unmitigated brutality was reserved for the latter . . . Only through the conquest of fortresses could a territory be effectively occupied. Resistance therefore was grimly viewed and severely punished . . . These harsh norms, seldom questioned in medieval times, were challenged by the Renaissance writers on jus gentium.16 Meron emphasises the ‘humanity’ of Shakespeare’s king, by reflecting on Henry’s line to Kent to ‘Use mercy to them all’ – meaning the conquered inhabitants of the town. He notes that, ‘In emphasizing the signal importance of mercy, Shakespeare was close to the medieval convention that regarded justice and mercy as twin attributes of kingship, as of course they were of God himself’ (78–9). Yet Kent’s is but a single line following a speech of such rhetorical violence that it is difficult to imagine it being given the weight that Meron does. This reading is even more problematical in light of the overall narrative structure of the play; and, as we shall see, the dramatic enactment of such violence. This is not, of course, to imply that Shakespeare is creating a wholly negative portrait of the king and his war. Rather it is to point out how the play is constantly interrogating the chronicle sources and the popular Renaissance stage images of Henry in such a way as to question their validity. Indeed, the play provides the audience with a juxtaposition of scenes of action and narrated perspectives on war, and it is this formal patterning which promotes such interpretation. For example, the positioning of the siege in the play is crucial. In the Folio, just as in the chronicles, Henry lands in France and quickly begins the siege. However, it is the action Shakespeare invents around Harfleur which further puts the commander’s actions into perspective. Notably, the Act begins with the Chorus introducing the scene, reminding the audience

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that Henry has rejected the offer of Catharine and ‘Some petty and unprofitable dukedoms’ (3.0.30–1). Henry appears as the heroic king with his famous ‘Once more unto the breach’, and we are left with the comical scene in which Fluellen complains that what he has witnessed is not like what he has read in history. For him, the siege is not like ‘the pristine wars of the Romans’; and Macmorris replies that ‘It is no time to discourse . . . there is throats to be cut’ (3.3.48, 51). Indeed, given this order of events, it seems obvious that Henry’s speech to the Governor of Harfleur shows that he is a man of action and the cutting of throats, not a man of pristine discourse in the conduct of war. That the surrender is followed by the scene in which Catharine learns English (and notably one body part at a time), is both comical and darkly ominous. The imagery of the body is repeated in Williams’s graphic protest before Agincourt. Interestingly, both the quarto and Folio retain this protest (although the quarto attributes it to the more anonymous ‘2 Soldier’). Shakespeare’s scene goes against the trope of the comical history tradition in which an encounter between a romantically disguised king and unsuspecting subject would normally be entirely positive.17 Here, Williams and the disguised king fail to agree: WILLIAMS: But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads chopped off in a battle shall join together at the latter day and cry all, ‘We died at such a place’ – some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. (4.1.128–35) True to form, Henry makes no claim for the justness of his war, but instead asserts that ‘The King is not bound to answer for the particular endings of his soldiers’; and ‘Every subject’s duty is the King’s, but every subject’s soul is his own’ (4.1.146–7, 164–5). Theologically and legally true in the medieval sense, it is a brilliant variation on Henry’s strategy of allowing the clergy to take responsibility for the justness of the war, and making the citizens of Harfleur the potential cause for the rapaciousness of his army. Yet, as Meron points out, ‘[t]he view, voiced by the soldier Williams, that princes are personally responsible for an unjust war, had already crystallized in the jus gentium of the Renaissance period’ (72). Here it is not a question of the king’s fault, or how ‘good’ is the cause; it is a question of the virtue of each individual soldier that determines their afterlife. The question about the ‘goodness’ of the war is carefully avoided. While Bates appears to accept this response, and Henry adds


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that he has heard the king will not be ransomed, Williams remains unconvinced, claiming ‘Ay, he said so, to make us fight cheerfully, but when our throats are cut he may be ransomed, and we ne’er the wiser’ (4.1.179–81). Not only is this the most direct attack Williams makes on the honesty of the king, but it foreshadows the most devastating indictment of Henry’s actions in the play: the killing of the French prisoners. Found in the chronicles, this event is present in both the quarto and Folio versions. Yet it is most often cut from performances, or sometimes moved to follow the French killing of the boys with the luggage. Notably, Gary Taylor insists that the prisoners were actually killed on the Renaissance stage because ‘the text unequivocally implies this, having brought them on for no other reason . . . This coldbloodedness is Henry’s personal – and decisive contribution to the victory’ (32). Taylor goes on to argue that the killing demonstrates a dramatisation of the enormous disparity in numbers between the English and French forces (the English having to dispose of their prisoners simply in order to be able to fight). While there is validity in this rationale, I would like to argue that the interpretation of the scene should be taken further. Given the narrative and image patterns established above, here we actually see the play’s most direct indictment of Henry and the war itself. For unlike the earlier scenes, battle (as opposed to a siege) is something Henry cannot stage-manage. It is beyond his control. The narrative pattern is therefore broken and, left to act quickly and of his own volition, he has the prisoners killed. The repetition of bloody imagery is finally realised before the eyes of the audience and we no longer have just the rhetoric of slaughter, but the very performance of it on stage. Certainly it is his ‘personal – and decisive contribution to the victory’, but it is one covered in blood. It is the closest that a play so highly conscious of its own inability to perform historical warfare before its audience comes to reproducing it. Arguably, this is the very climax of the play on stage. That such slaughter might upset even a contemporary audience would explain both why the scene is absent from The Famous Victories, and why (having learned French from the Boy in a parody of the way that Catharine learned English) the quarto inserts Pistol’s ‘comic’ line, ‘Couple gorge!’ (15, 33) after Henry’s order. For Gurr, ‘it seems that Pistol’s words were added in order to tone down the horror of Henry’s order’ (12). Certainly this would make sense. But in the Folio, there is no such line. Instead, the killing is framed with the reports of deaths off stage. The scene opens with the highly mythologised ends of Suffolk and York – a stark contrast to the on stage killings. Later, following the report that

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the French have killed the boys with the luggage, Fluellen introduces the subject of the prisoners. Gower puts the two events together in what we have seen is the wrong order as cause and effect and then states, ‘Our King is not like [Alexander the Great] . . . He never killed any of his friends’. As if the audience would not remember Falstaff, the Folio goes out of its way to remind us that the cause of the old rogue’s death was his rejection by Henry. Ironically, Fluellen describes him in detail, but forgets his name – which probably makes any audience remember it all the more before Gower supplies it. The implication is that Henry is as ruthless with his ‘friends’ as with his prisoners. With the battle over, Henry is able to stage-manage events once again, and the slaughter imagery is resurrected at the end of the play. Burgundy protests, asking him directly, ‘Why that the naked, poor, and mangled peace, / Dear nurse of arts, plenteous, and joyful births, / Should not in this best garden of the world, / Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage?’ (5.2.33–7). Henry replies bluntly that, ‘If, Duke of Burgundy, you would the peace . . . you must buy that peace’ (5.2.68–70). Of course, Catharine’s value has now increased and therefore when the French leave to discuss terms, he reminds them that ‘She is our capital demand, comprised / Within the fore-rank of our articles’ (5.2.96–7). Given the victory, Catharine has already been won. She has no choice; and as many have noted, the wooing scene becomes a brilliant parody. It too is filled with references to parts of the body; for as Henry tells her, ‘take me, take a soldier, take a soldier, take a King’ (160). Given how he has defined himself as a soldier before Harfleur, and demonstrated at Agincourt, we have a sense of what the equation might mean in a king and husband. It is, of course, the Chorus who has the final ironic word, referring to ‘this star of England’, but then problematising the description by pointing to the futility of all of the activity we have witnessed, both in this play and in those stage performances which have preceded it: ‘they lost France and made his England bleed, / Which oft our stage hath shown’ (Epilogue, 12–13). What the audience sees in this play cuts against what they have been told, both in the theatre and in chronicle history. In the face of the enormous popularity of the subject of Henry V in the period, Shakespeare’s Folio text provides an interrogation of that myth and the dramatic and chronicle sources that fostered it. That interrogation, hinted at in the opening Chorus and expanded by the scene including the churchmen, really begins at the siege of Harfleur, where the trope of the medieval siege is manipulated in such a way as to cause an audience to begin to question the actions of the king. Depending on the nature of the minimal text performed (whether it is closer to the one-dimensional


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quarto, or to the more ambiguous Folio), the audience can witness a combination of the king’s stage-management of events and manipulation of imagery to achieve his ends. The comical history tradition is then manipulated on the eve of Agincourt, with Williams’s protest. But it is only in the heat of Agincourt itself that Henry is unable to stage-manage such events to cover his ambitions, and the rhetoric of the slaughter of war is performed at the play’s climax. This overall patterning of the Folio serves to raise implied questions about the war: its justification, its performance, and its mythology. Such questions are all the more lingering as they go unanswered, particularly at the final Chorus.

Notes 1. Stephen J. Greenblatt, ‘Invisible Bullets,’ in his Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 21–65; 56. 2. Robin Headlam Wells, ‘Henry V and the Chivalric Revival,’ in Shakespeare and History: Shakespeare Yearbook 6 (1996), 129, 139–40. 3. Norman Rabkin, Shakespeare and the Problem of Meaning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 34. 4. Andrew Gurr (ed.), The First Quarto of King Henry V (Cambridge: CUP, 2000), 4. 5. Gary Taylor (ed.), Henry V (Oxford: OUP, 1982), 14. 6. Andrew Gurr, ‘Maximal and Minimal Texts: Shakespeare v. the Globe’, Shakespeare Survey 52 (1999), 68–87. 7. References to Shakespeare are from Stephen Greenblatt et al. (eds), The Norton Shakespeare (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997). 8. Pamela Mason, ‘Henry V: ‘‘the quick forge and working house of thought,’’ ’ in Michael Hattaway (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s History Plays (Cambridge: CUP, 2002), 177. 9. See King James Bible, Matthew 2: 16–18. 10. Malcolm Hebron, The Medieval Siege: Theme and Image in Middle English Romance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 1–2. 11. Katharine Eisaman Maus, ‘Henry V,’ in The Norton Shakespeare, 1448. 12. As Hebron accurately notes: ‘One of the most important themes is the depiction of the commander, and the ways in which his strategic and ethical approach to the siege warfare is portrayed’ (34). 13. ‘The combination of its main theme and its date of writing (between November 1416 and July 1417) leaves little doubt as to its immediate purpose: to justify the King’s second French expedition and encourage support for it.’ Frank Taylor and John S. Roskell, trans., Anonymous, Gesta Henrici Quinti: The Deeds of Henry V (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), xxiv. 14. Richard Hosley (ed.) Shakespeare’s Holinshed (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1968).

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15. This includes even John Page’s first-hand account, which dared to go so far as to present the king as a rather haughty and arrogant siege commander. See John Page, ‘The Siege of Rouen’, in J. Gairdner (ed.), The Historical Collections of a Citizen of London in the Fifteenth Century (London: Camden Society, 1876), 1–46. 16. Meron (1993), 102–3. 17. See Anne Barton, ‘The King Disguised: Shakespeare’s Henry V and the Comical History,’ in Joseph G. Price (ed.), The Triple Bond: Plays, Mainly Shakespearean, in Performance (University Park: Penn State University Press, 1975), 92–117.

7 Drums and Roses? The Tragicomedy of War in All’s Well That Ends Well Helen Wilcox

Although war is a recurring feature of Shakespeare’s plays, regardless of their genre, it does not necessarily follow that his representation of war is a stable point of reference or ideologically consistent. Indeed, there are aspects of the wars depicted in his plays which might be said to be genre-specific. In the comedies, for instance, we may observe that conflict is almost always located in the past and often coloured by symbolic or amorous purposes, as in the opening of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Theseus disconcertingly reminds Hippolyta that ‘I woo’d thee with my sword, / And won thy love doing thee injuries’ (1.1.16–17). The tragedies, on the other hand, construct war as integral to their mood of crisis; conflict creates as well as mirrors the rottenness of Hamlet’s Denmark, for example, and the discord of Othello’s Cyprus. The wars of the Roman plays embody the tragic hubris of imperial politics – ‘O my brave Emperor, this is fought indeed!’ (Antony and Cleopatra 4.7.4) – while the English history plays contextualise and explore the ambitions behind dynastic and national warfare. The so-called ‘problem plays’ and the late plays or ‘romances’ have a shared tendency to test generic boundaries and to probe even more unsettlingly the audience’s confidence in the honour of soldiers, lovers and leaders. These plays set satire and romance, the generic extremes of pessimism and optimism, side by side, weaving ‘good and ill together’ in the manner of the ‘mingled yarn’ of life itself, as observed in All’s Well That Ends Well (4.3.71–2). This merging of tragic potential with almost-happy endings, cynicism with hope, is most accurately suggested by the use of the generic label ‘tragicomedy’ for these two groups of plays.1 The inseparable nature of tragedy and comedy, and (perhaps more significantly) the implied capacity of the one to undermine the other, were powerfully suggested in a recent Dutch production of Cymbeline. 84

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Throughout the closing scenes of the play, when peace had been restored and life had triumphed over apparent death, the blood spilt in the preceding battles dripped slowly down the steps which formed the stage.2 Two of Shakespeare’s most cynical portrayals of war are to be found in his tragicomedies. The great cause of Troy is summed up as a squabble over ‘a whore and a cuckold’ (Troilus and Cressida 2.3.72–3), while the Tuscan wars in All’s Well are reduced to the loss of a drum. In both cases, the hybrid nature of the dramatic action, involving elements of the comic and the tragic but holding back from the securer conventions of either genre, would seem to match the plays’ representation of war in all its ambivalence. As a test case for the investigation of the genres of war in Shakespeare, let us take a closer look at All’s Well That Ends Well and examine the dramatic phenomenon that I would term the tragicomedy of war.

Functions of war in All’s Well That Ends Well War fulfils several needs in All’s Well, but most of these have little to do with the immediate or apparent purposes for which most battles are fought, such as political triumph, the aversion of an imminent invasion, or the defence of a religious allegiance under threat. The play’s main characters are French but the wars are in Italy; there is hardly any danger involved on the battlefield, precious little anxiety, and a complete absence of identification with any cause or principle. These wars are a sort of boys’ game, taking place outside France and safely off-stage – a knowing parallel, perhaps, with the wars of Shakespeare’s own lifetime, fought not on English soil but in Ireland and the United Provinces. All’s Well supplies its audience with minimal information about the nature of the conflict that is being fought; we simply hear that it is a ‘braving war’ (1.2.3) between the armies of the Tuscan city states of Florence and Siena. Quite clearly, the cause does not concern the French; their bored young gentry are in search of action and glory, ‘sick / For breathing and exploit’ (1.2.16–17), and it seems to make no difference to them or their monarch which side they fight upon. As the King of France pronounces near the start of the play, ‘our gentlemen that mean to see / The Tuscan service’ (1.2.13–14) have a free choice as to which army they join. This attitude to fighting abroad would not have been alien to the earliest audiences of All’s Well, a play which all evidence suggests was written in the earliest years of the Jacobean era.3 In precisely this period, the war in the Low Countries between the Protestant rebels and the Spanish authorities was entering a more ambivalent phase after the long


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years of English support for the Protestant cause under Elizabeth I. In letters from 1603 and early 1604, Sir Ralph Winwood, the English envoy in The Hague, wrote that soldiers from England and Scotland were being advised by King James to decide for themselves whether to fight with the United Provinces, or for the forces representing the king of Spain. According to Winwood, the king hoped to ‘preserve and maintaine an indifferent Form of Neutrallity’ in the months leading up to the Somerset House conference in August 1604, and he allowed the fighters on both sides ‘the same Liberty’.4 The parallel with the advice of the King of France in All’s Well is striking: ‘freely they have leave / To stand on either part’ (1.2.14–15). Whether for strategic reasons or from a weariness with the posturings of war, All’s Well keeps its distance from the details of the Tuscan wars. The Duke of Florence, for whom Bertram and the other French lords choose to fight, is denied the right to put his case to the audience; the third act begins with the Duke telling the foreign soldiers that they have now heard ‘the fundamental reasons of this war’ (3.1.2), thereby drawing attention to the fact that we have not witnessed the explanation. The response of the French lord to the Duke – ‘Holy seems the quarrel’ (3.1.4; my italics) – still leaves us unsure of the grounds for war, as we are forced to rely upon an indirect impression of the ‘quarrel’.5 The play’s definition of male honour in warfare, therefore, is not dependent upon commitment to an identified cause or principle – other than that of honour itself. By Jacques’ definition, the soldier is nothing if not ‘jealous in honour’ (As You Like It, 2.7.151). Near the beginning of All’s Well, the King of France recalls the time when he and Bertram’s father, the late Count of Rossillion, together ‘in friendship / First tried our soldiership’ (1.2.25–6). The Count is defined as a man whose ‘honour’ was ‘Clock to itself’, who ‘might be a copy to these younger times’ (1.2.38–9, 46). If Bertram and his contemporaries were to follow Bertram’s father’s example, the king concludes, they would be ‘But goers backward’ (1.2.48), modelling themselves on a hero from an earlier era. This is very significant to the play’s construction of soldierly honour. Such ideals are firmly cast in the past, not just within the play’s narrative and its immediate political context, but also by associating honour with the era of the play’s source texts.6 All’s Well draws upon an older romance tradition of chivalry in war, including the rhetorical configuration of the soldier’s life as a pseudo-religious devotion. The ‘sinewy swordmen’ whom Bertram and Parolles observe leaving for the wars are sent on their way with the blessing, ‘Mars dote on you for his novices!’ (2.1.59–60, 47).

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However, these future monks of war, supposedly upholding an honourable tradition of warlike dedication, are soon revealed in a less flattering light. Indeed, the association with Mars has already been tarnished by the encounter in the opening scene with Parolles, who is (symbolically) the very first soldier on stage in this play. When Helena identifies him as ‘born under Mars’, Parolles adds, ‘When he was predominant’. Helena, however, corrects him – ‘When he was retrograde, I rather think’ – since in his cowardice Parolles goes ‘so much backward’ when he fights (1.2.196–200). The phrase is an ironic echo of the French king’s advice to look ‘backward’ in copying the romance ideal of the soldier. Within the first scene of the play, a dignified sense of past warlike honour has been replaced by its dishonourable shadow, in which ‘goers backward’ are now those who run away ‘when fear proposes the safety’ (1.2.202–3). As elsewhere in Shakespeare’s tragicomedies, the military cause in All’s Well is depicted in terms of the desires of individuals rather than the responsibility of a group.7 Bertram, frustrated at being told that he is too young to go to war, plans to ‘steal away bravely’ and is reassured that ‘There’s honour in the theft’ (2.1.29, 34). However, his motive – personal resentment of remaining at home as ‘forehorse to a smock’ (2.1.30), rather than any loyalty to the cause of war – is less than honourable. When he finally does join up, his purpose is even more narrowly individual: he wants to escape his enforced marriage to Helena. Once again, the chivalric code is invoked and yet at the same time weakened: ‘He wears his honour in a box unseen, / That hugs his kicky-wicky here at home’ is Parolles’s reductive verdict (2.3.276–7). A far more accurate definition of honour is offered by Bertram’s mother, the Countess, who declares that her son’s ‘sword can never win / The honour that he loses’ in his rejection of Helena (3.2.95–6). On the other hand, Bertram’s defiant claim that ‘Wars is no strife / To the dark house and the detested wife’ (2.3.288–9) highlights the assumed misogyny of the world of war while, ironically, reminding us of the strange absence of actual warlike ‘strife’ in All’s Well. This is a play in which there are no battles and hardly any deaths, and the one reported achievement of Bertram the soldier is, again, disturbingly personal: ‘with his own hand he slew the Duke’s brother’ (3.5.6–7), reminiscent of the individual vendettas in the closing scenes of Troilus and Cressida. The image of war in All’s Well is relentlessly personal and deliberately superficial; it is the mere appearance of bravery, typified by the braggart Parolles festooned with ‘scarfs’ and ‘bannerets’ (2.3.203–4), a man whose ‘soul . . . is his clothes’ (2.5.43–4). The return of the soldiers is shown in a parade which is the communal equivalent


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of the flashy Parolles. As the admiring women try to spot Bertram in the passing army, Diana points him out as ‘That with the plume’ (3.5.78). Parolles is not the only man whose soul is revealed in his clothes; the comment is a judgement on the whole world of war in All’s Well That Ends Well. It is no accident that the victory parade is introduced, according to the Folio stage directions, with ‘Drum and Colours’ (3.5.74), since both of these tokens of war anticipate the plot to show up Parolles in his falsehood and cowardice. The lost drum, the attempted recovery of which leads the colourful Parolles into an ambush and all too hasty revelations of disloyalty and dishonour, becomes an emblem of the man himself – he is variously known as Jack Drum or Tom Drum.8 The drum, ‘this instrument of honour’ (3.6.66), should have represented the very best of military discipline, but leads instead to Parolles’s cowardly and unnecessarily graphic betrayal of his comrades. The drum epitomises the emptiness of soldierly values evoked by the play as a whole. As Bertram rejects Helena and prepares to leave France for the Tuscan wars, he vows never to return ‘Whilst I can shake my sword or hear the drum’ (2.5.91), and as he sets off into battle he promises Mars that he will prove ‘A lover of thy drum, hater of love’ (3.3.11). In the bizarre depiction of Parolles’s love of the drum – ‘Is’t but a drum? A drum so lost!’ (3.6.47) – we hear the noisy beat of the false bravery and insubstantial loyalty shared by Bertram and Parolles. The latter swears to recover the regimental drum ‘By the hand of a soldier’, and Bertram promises him fame if he does so ‘even to the utmost syllable of your worthiness’ (3.6.70–2). Both undertakings not only remain unfulfilled but are ironically inverted. In his desperation to recover the drum, Parolles is ultimately forced to admit that ‘any drum of the enemy’s’ (4.1.61) would do just as well. After hearing Parolles betray him as ‘a foolish, idle boy’, Bertram in turn denounces Parolles as a ‘Damnable both-sides rogue!’ (4.3.215, 222). The soldiers’ promises in this play, like the sound of the drum, are hollow. The functions of war in All’s Well, then, are multiple but mutually reinforcing. The French soldiers’ involvement in the Tuscan wars is utterly lacking in principle; their role appears to be that of gentrified mercenaries in a war whose purpose is never declared in the play. If honour is the ideal to which Bertram and Parolles pay lip-service, it is damaged and undermined from the very beginning; if brotherly bonds between soldiers are supposed to be the reality of wartime solidarity, then the episode of Parolles and the drum cures the audience of that illusion. The process of trapping Parolles, terrifying him, bullying him in strange tongues and then giving him the chance to betray everyone on his side

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is, ironically, the fullest military encounter of the entire play. This tells us a great deal about the kind of war depicted in the play: it is not ‘God’s vengeance’ (Henry V 4.1.174) but the tragicomedy of one soldier’s revenge on another. And it is not only Parolles who is ‘discovered’ and disgraced in this process; all those who set up and carry out the trickery, or observe and laugh at the discomfort of their fellows, are shown up in turn. Indeed, though the play might seem to anticipate the end of protracted wars in the early days of the Jacobean period, its depiction of the last phase of the hostilities is dominated by unflinching mockery of the soldiers’ world.

War and desire Among those whose weaknesses are revealed by the desperate confessions of Parolles – who loves words as ‘a fish loves water’ (3.6.85) and is prepared to betray anyone to save his own life – is Bertram himself. Significantly, Parolles does not pass comment on Bertram’s exploits in war, but has plenty to say about this young Count’s ‘ruttish’ wooing of Diana (4.3.216). Parolles’ interrogation, therefore, which ostensibly concerns battlefield cowardice, becomes a statement of how closely the love of war and the war of love are interlinked in the play. The honour (or dishonour) of the soldier is consciously set in contrast to the ‘honour of a maid’, which is here defined as her ‘name’ or reputation (3.5.12). However, both kinds of honour come under attack in the play. We have already noted how the idea of the soldier’s honour is rendered almost untenable in the course of All’s Well, but from the start there is also very little coyness in the discussion of a woman’s honour, especially when defined as her chastity. In an unexpectedly bawdy encounter in the opening scene, Helena converses with Parolles, a man whose cowardly flamboyance would seem the very opposite of her determined modesty. When the dialogue moves by means of military metaphors to discuss the protection of virginity from ‘underminers and blowers-up’, and the ‘military policy’ for virgins to ‘blow up men’ (1.1.120–2), we realise that the languages of war and sexual desire cannot be understood separately in this play. Indeed, it is almost impossible to consider war in All’s Well without reference to desire. When the King of France, for instance, is giving advice to the departing French soldiers, he urges them in a traditional courtship metaphor ‘not to woo honour, but to wed it’ (2.1.15). Instead of proceeding to give them tips on fighting in battle, in the next breath he warns them to ‘take heed’ of ‘those girls of Italy’ (2.1.19), mixing the


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material impact of love and war as well as interweaving their rhetoric. The inseparable nature of these two sorts of desire – for military success and sexual satisfaction – is reinforced when Helena presses Diana’s mother to let her arrange the bed-trick by which the riddling Bertram is to be trapped. The Count’s wooing is aptly described by Helena: he ‘lays down his wanton siege before her [Diana’s] beauty’ (3.7.18), just as the Florentine soldiers are laying siege before the walls of Siena. Indeed, the parallels between love and war are so extensive that we begin to wonder if the one is not an allegory of the other. For example, the lineup of marriageable courtiers at the French court, from which Helena is able to choose her husband, is a direct foreshadowing of the military parade of war heroes from which Diana, too, picks out Bertram as the one ‘with the plume’ (3.5.78). In a similar symmetry of construction, the gulling of Parolles during his hunt for the lost drum is juxtaposed with the tricking of Bertram, that very same night, into bed with Helena. While Parolles is trapped on account of his inordinate need of the drum and his unstoppable urge to boast of his exploits, Bertram is caught out by his uncontrollable desire for Diana and his willingness to exchange the ring he should be preserving. The parallels are deeply revealing: while Parolles attempts to snatch back the drum which will restore his self-esteem, Bertram is trying to steal two more symbolic circles, a ring and a maidenhead. The association of military and amatory exploits among (aptly-named) brothers in arms has a long history. English soldiers in the early modern garrisons in the Low Countries were, like their predecessors in battle, no strangers to the triangular relationship of soldier, wife and mistress – though it is to be presumed that few of these entanglements were resolved by a bed-trick as in All’s Well. In the Dutch town of the Brill, where English reinforcements coming to the aid of the United Provinces caused considerable disruption, magistrates’ records reveal the tensions between the soldiers and the local townsfolk. One entry in particular could almost be imagined in the archives of Shakespeare’s fictional Florence. On 30 June 1601, a Dutch woman from the Brill had to ask pardon for the injury that she had caused to the wife of ‘Dirck the Englishman’.9 Bertram’s local mistress, Diana, on the other hand, far from causing injury to Helena, expresses concern for the as yet unknown ‘poor lady’ who is the abandoned wife of a ‘detesting lord’ (3.4.64–5) and shows sisterly solidarity once she has met Helena in person. Bertram’s promise to give Diana ‘all rights of service’ (4.2.17) proves worthless once she meets him again at the court of France; as Lafew comments in exasperation on seeing Bertram’s serial deceptions, ‘I will

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buy me a son-in-law in a fair . . . I’ll none of him’ (5.3.147–8). Bertram’s fickle behaviour confirms Diana’s own mother’s opinion that submission to men’s desires is as the surrendering of ‘our [women’s] roses’, after which the men, who have taken the blooms for their own pleasure, turn and ‘mock us with our bareness’ (4.2.18–20). The world of All’s Well is divided into distinct groups – men and women, French and Italian, court and country, transient soldiers and local residents – but in many senses it is a society of individuals struggling to fulfil their own personal desires yet doomed to disappointment even as they achieve them. The tragicomic tension between desire and disillusionment is frequently experienced in the play as a kind of metaphorical warfare. The French king’s search for a cure for his fistula, for instance, is expressed as the hope of relief from ‘the malady / That doth my life besiege’ (2.1.9–10; my italics).10 The young men are said to be ‘sick’ in their longing for action in battle, just as Petrarchan lovers symbolically sicken and die for love of their mistress. If they are able to take part in war, it is assumed that this will be a ‘physic’ to cure them (3.1.18–19). The intertwining of metaphors concerning love, war and sickness suggests that the characters in All’s Well inhabit a realm where conflict is the norm. Indeed, one of the Countess’s earliest descriptions of her son, Bertram, implies an internal battle between his will and his duty: he is one in whom ‘blood and virtue / Contend for empire’ (1.1.62–3). Not all the wars in this play, therefore, are material or visible conflicts: human life, whether in the individual body or the body politic, is defined in the language of conflict.

Does all end well? By the end of the play, the ‘drums and roses’ of my title (as well as the distant ‘guns’ echoed by it) have been abandoned. Parolles, gulled into a modicum of self-knowledge, will have ‘no more drumming. A plague of all drums!’ (4.3.298–9). The war ends with a ‘peace concluded’ (4.3.40) – no doubt anticipating a treaty in the Low Countries in 1604 – but Parolles, the only soldier in the play who is not also a courtier, has lost everything: his job, his friendship with Bertram, his drum and his selfesteem. However, Parolles discovers a kind of humility through accepting that he must be ‘simply the thing I am’ (4.3.333) and in the end he finds a new and altogether better master in Lafew. Meanwhile, Helena, having given up what Diana called the ‘roses’ of her virginity in the battle of love, is able to solve every aspect of the riddle set her by the unloving Bertram. Strangely, she also discovers in her experience of the bed-trick


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what ‘sweet use’ men can make of that which they think they ‘hate’ (4.4.22). So is there hope for the marriage of Helena and Bertram at the end of the play? Will peace be achieved in this conflict? Perhaps all has indeed ended well and it is true, as Helena claims, that ‘the fine’s the crown’ (4.4.35). But what might ‘well’ mean in this context?11 When the king states in the final scene that ‘all yet seems well’ (5.3.333), the audience may still have in mind the rascally poem written by Parolles about Bertram in which Parolles, true to his name, equivocates on the word ‘well’: ‘Half won is match well made; match, and well make it’ (4.3.225). There is a sense in which the happy ending of All’s Well That Ends Well is ‘half won’. The war has ended, but with more focus on the cowardice and unscrupulousness of its soldiers than on an honourable victory. The lovers’ riddle has been solved, but the audience is left wondering whether it was fair to either party, what hopes there are of a successful marriage, and whether Bertram was really worth all the trouble. When he appears at the French court for the final confrontation, it is typical that we are deliberately left uncertain whether the ‘patch of velvet’ (4.5.95) on Bertram’s cheek is covering up a scar gained in battle or caused by syphilis caught in some skirmish of love with a less scrupulous mistress than Diana. In a play which has, even from the beginning, laid such stress on its ending, perhaps we are entitled to expect a more confident, less provisional conclusion. However, this unease is endemic in a genre which must eventually yield the transformation of tragedy into comedy, by whatever method may be to hand. This is the ultimate case of the end justifying the means, a philosophy which we see at work in both war and love. When a husband must be (re)gained by a bed-trick, and a war must be won with the assistance of foreign courtiers eager for some action, then a retrospective satisfaction is perhaps the only outcome from such tragicomic conflict. Tragicomedy makes rich and extensive use of coincidence, magic, trickery and spectacle, and this conscious theatricality serves to temper the optimism of its endings. In Shakespeare’s tragicomedies, a monk is revealed as the all-manipulating Duke in Measure for Measure, Hermione’s statue breathes and moves at the end of The Winter’s Tale, and only the masques and ‘insubstantial pageant’ of The Tempest achieve a necessary, even if temporary, ‘sea-change’ in the characters on the island (4.1.155, 1.2.401). There are two moments when All’s Well draws particular attention to its own spectacle, and each concerns what we might call the ‘theatre of war’. Both occur during that strangest of all battlefield scenes, the gulling of Parolles, when the central focus – the drum – is

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in fact the absent, hollow centre of the action, and the war has turned into a mocking conflict between comrades. Firstly, as the blindfolded Parolles, a parody of Cupid, is led out to be cross-examined, we are made aware of the extreme theatricality of the encounter. Bertram introduces the taunting of his one-time friend by speaking in the manner of the director of a play: ‘But shall we have this dialogue between the fool and the soldier?’ (4.3.97–8). The meeting of those two archetypal characters, and the fact that they turn out to be mirror images of each other, stands as an emblem for the play’s construction of warfare.12 Secondly, the focus on the drum, a recurring symbol of war as well as of Parolles’s weakness, is itself a superbly theatrical device. As Parolles is questioned about his colleagues’ ‘expertness in war’, he refers to one as having ‘led the drum before the English tragedians’ (4.3.265–7), drawing on the association of the drum with actors’ troupes in early modern England. The drama of war, here, is put on a par with the performance of tragedy announced by the beating of a drum preceding the players. But it is absolutely in keeping with the mood of All’s Well that the drum should also evoke comic theatre. As the trickery of Parolles’s ambush is being planned, the comment from his fellow-soldiers is most telling: ‘O, for the love of laughter, let him fetch his drum’ (3.6.34–5). It is this comic principle that ultimately prevails, flawed but triumphant, in the play’s representation of war and in its conclusion.

The tragicomedy of war In this reading of All’s Well, some of the associations between the dramatic representation of war and the characteristics of tragicomedy have been tested and explored. It is my hope that the idea of Shakespeare’s genre-specific treatments of war will continue to be investigated. This genre-conscious approach should not yield an ahistorical reading of text and theatre – far from it – but can locate the playwright’s choices in literary as well as political and social contexts. The choice of the tragicomic mode gives specific shape and colour to the subjects treated by the play, including, as we have seen, the process of waging war. Like tragicomedy, every war involves aspects of both destruction and resolution; like tragicomedy, war promises uncertain results that are always provisional. Less bound than histories and tragedies by any vestigial obligation to historical accuracy, tragicomedy can dramatise and interrogate the ideals of military action and soldierly honour, and explore the complexities of conflict and desire. As this analysis of All’s Well has demonstrated, the creative possibilities of tragicomedy – interlinking the


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sharpness of satire with the structures of romance – enable a vivid and disturbing representation of war. The freedom of the genre, whose positive ambivalence has been described by Annabel Patterson as ‘fruitfully ‘‘edgy’’ ’,13 is appropriate to a profound enquiry into the lure of military conflict, drums and all. By ending relatively ‘well’, this play reminds us that the waging of war is, above all, an aspect of the drama of human folly and desire rather than – in this genre, at least – the driving force of history or the source of tragic suffering.

Notes 1. For further discussion of this important Renaissance genre, see McMullan and Hope; King; Nancy Klein Maguire (ed.), Renaissance Tragicomedy: Explorations in Genre and Politics (New York: AMS Press, 1987). For discussion of the grouping of the problem plays and romances together, see, among others, G. K. Hunter’s introduction to the New Arden edition of All’s Well That Ends Well (London: Methuen, 1959), lv–lvi. 2. Diever Shakespeare Company, The Netherlands, September 2002. 3. See, for example, the discussion of dating in Susan Snyder’s edition of the play (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 20–4. 4. Ralph Winwood, Memorials of Affairs of State (London, 1725), II.22, II.6 (4.06.1604; 3.10.1603). See Willem Schrickx, ‘All’s Well That Ends Well in its Historical Context,’ Shakespeare Jahrbuch 131 (1995), 106–15. 5. R. B. Parker comments that the war is ‘merely a convenience, a backdrop without clear purpose, circumstances, or outcome’ (‘War and Sex in AWW,’ Shakespeare Survey 37 (1984), 103). Although I agree with the latter part of this opinion, I consider that the war is far more than a dramatic ‘convenience’; it is integral to the tragicomic mood and parallel to the fortunes of the lovers. 6. Shakespeare’s main source was Boccaccio’s Decameron 3.9, translated and adapted by William Painter in The Palace of Pleasure (1566), novel 38. 7. Compare, for example, Troilus and Posthumus in Troilus and Cressida and Cymbeline respectively. 8. See Thomas Deloney, Works, ed. Francis Oscar Mann (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912), 190: the braggart Tom Drum should have been entertained by a lady but is insulted and turned away, so that ‘where it is supposed that a man shall not be welcomed, they will say that he is like to have Tom Drums entertainment’. 9. Gemeentearchief Den Briel [City Archive of the Brill], Vroedschaps- en Magistraats Resoluties [Legal Judgements], 30.06.1601; cited by Marjon Poort, ‘English Garrisons in the United Provinces, 1585–1616,’ The Dutch in Crisis, 1585–1588: People and Politics in Leicester’s Time, ed. Paul Hoftijzer (Leiden: Sir Thomas Browne Institute, 1988), 73. 10. Compare Laurence Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy, in which Tristram’s Uncle Toby’s military wound is also a fistula. See Tristram Shandy, vol. 1, chap. 21 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978), 62.

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11. The ambiguity of ‘well’, which is also highlighted by Lavatch in 2.4, is discussed by Tita French Baumlin in ‘ ‘‘All yet seems well, and if it ends so meet’’: Ambiguity and Tragic Language in AWW,’ Explorations in Renaissance Culture 17 (1991), 125–43. 12. In the 2004 production of All’s Well at Lancaster Castle, by the Demi-Paradise company directed by Ian Blower, this scene was set in the medieval dungeons, appropriately reaching the deepest level of the castle for this lowest moment in the play’s representation of warfare. 13. McMullan and Hope, ix.

8 Political Speech and the Wars in King John Dana Chetrinescu Percec

Vorbeste-le! Vorbeste-le! – Talk to them! Talk to them! This desperate appeal by Elena Ceaus¸escu to her husband, the Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceaus¸escu, made on 21 December 1989 during their last public assembly, and advising him to promise the strikers higher salaries, hints at the main purpose of this chapter. I propose to discuss a Shakespearean play, King John, which deals with the nature and impact of political speech in times of war. In particular, I want to examine the potential of that text as realised in a performance in May 1988 at the Theatre of Comedy in Bucharest – still the only Romanian stage adaptation of that play. The truth-value of political discourse is often in inverse proportion to its rhetorical sophistication. Politics depends on performance; even in wartime, as many chapters in this book demonstrate, power is at least partly histrionic. Shakespeare’s play, in this production, became, conversely, not merely a play about war but one that aspired to a fighting role in a very real and dangerous political struggle.

Shakespeare in Romania In revisiting Jan Kott’s Shakespeare, Our Contemporary after some thirty years, John Elsom came to the conclusion that Shakespeare is more contemporary at some historical moments than at others. He is also more relevant in some countries than in others.1 As Elsom put it during a Romanian Shakespeare festival in 2003: As to Shakespeare, I think that each nation sees and interprets him today according to how much it has suffered. In my opinion, rich America – and we in Britain . . . – are more remote from Shakespeare’s 96

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world, tormented by horrible tragedies, than you the people in the countries of Eastern Europe. Especially you the Romanians (who have experienced Ceaus¸escu’s terror) feel, I think with increased intensity, the heroes’ sufferings in Shakespearean drama. This is why when they play Shakespeare, Romanian artists always go to the core of the matter.2 When the Theatre of Comedy in Bucharest presented King John, the play was virtually unknown in the country. It was not taught in the universities, no significant criticism had been written on it, and it was available in Romanian in only two translations. The director, Grigore Gont¸a, cast very popular actors such as Silviu St˘anculescu, Iurie Darie, and S¸erban Ionescu, known from their participation in Romania’s big-budget cinema productions, especially historical films, as well as Marian Rˆalea, well-known from children’s TV programmes. Few of them had done much comedy before, yet it was the comic aspect of this history play that was to be most clearly brought out. By that stage, most Romanians, living, as they had been for so long, under ceaus¸ism, a peculiar form of communism developed by an almost illiterate megalomaniac, had become adept in detecting political comments even in the most innocent-looking pieces of literature. Even poems for children about a cat who demanded to be cheered by the other animals in the yard were not exempt from censorship and cost their author, Ana Blandiana, her right to publish in Romania.3 This well-known poet, one of the leaders of the opposition immediately after the 1989 Revolution, had been active in the dissident movement throughout the eighties due to her more overtly anti-communist poetry.

Translations of King John The first Romanian translation of Shakespeare’s King John, published in 1955, is still the most widely accepted. It is by Dan Botta, one of the best-known Romanian Shakespeare translators.4 Botta gives the text an archaic tone that Romanian readers associate with ‘canonical’ literature, in the style imposed by Ceaus¸escu in the school curricula.5 While translating in such a style might at first glance seem acceptable for the scenes in King John evoking the legendary Coeur-de-lion, it does not adequately render the two queens’ noisy and vicious arguments, or John’s and Philip of France’s threats to each other and to Angers (2.1). When Elinor in a show of grandmotherly affection tells young Arthur ‘Come


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to thy grandam, child’, Constance’s wonderfully angry response (‘Do, child, go to it grandam, child. / Give grandam kingdom, and it grandam will / Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig’, 2.1.160–2) is not just a parody of baby language but an attack on what Constance sees as Elinor’s attempt to steal the country from her grandson in order to give it to her son. Its full impact is lost in Botta’s translation, which uses standard, polite language. His literal translation of ‘a plum, a cherry, and a fig’, without taking into account the implicit rudeness of the expression ‘to give a fig’, misses the satirical implications of the original. Similarly with John’s attempt in the same scene to silence Constance: ‘Bedlam, have done’ (183). Botta rendered ‘Bedlam’ by a euphemism for insanity, ‘Lunateco’,6 which does not do justice to the rudeness of the original expression. Grigore Gont¸a, however, based his production on a more recent Romanian translation of King John by Florin Nicolau. Nicolau was the literary manager at the National Theatre in Bucharest in the 1980s, and an acclaimed translator of Franc¸ois Villon’s poetry, but less well known as a translator of Shakespeare. He was not accepted by some of the established Shakespearean translators, who labelled him – with the support of the official censors – as ‘anti-canonical’ and insufficiently respectful to Shakespeare. Although he was a good and resourceful poet with a vivid imagination, he was considered too colloquial, and too prolix, as his translations added a considerable number of lines to the originals. Gont¸a’s choice of Nicolau can therefore be interpreted as a gesture of subversion of the literary establishment and implicitly of the government.

Tragicomedy and Gont¸a’s production Although Shakespeare’s King John is classified as a history and ends with the death of its eponymous hero, the only generic category that adequately conveys its form and function in the theatre is tragicomedy. This structure was underlined in the production by fitting John’s story into the motif of the scapegoat, sacrificed at the end of the game to make everybody else happy.7 The approach was considered by many critics to be an ‘unusual attempt’, an ‘experiment’, ‘a daring gesture, successful and interesting only up to a certain point’. Perhaps because they had only known Shakespeare’s text previously in Botta’s translation, they considered the play itself to be ‘far from comic’, a ‘difficult’ play that secured the transition to ‘Shakespeare’s masterpieces’, and the production therefore a distortion.8 Many reviewers were also

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surprised to see King John staged by the Theatre of Comedy because, in 1988, this was only their third attempt to produce a Shakespeare play, after an unsuccessful performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and a more fortunate adaptation of Troilus and Cressida. The impact of this production of Regele Ioan was limited. The play’s unfamiliarity, added to the lukewarm reviews, meant that it did not attract large audiences. Although the director’s intentions must have been transparent, the subversiveness of the interpretation could not be discussed in the press for obvious reasons of censorship. Indeed, as we shall see later, they may even have been deliberately misinterpreted. What interests me about it, however, is the way in which the production’s approach, grounded in the politics of internal struggle and unrest in Romania, might help us to see this play about medieval wars (which is also unjustly neglected in the English-speaking world) in a fresh light. In the first part of the performance, comedy was predominant. A parodic, farcical tone was given to the queens’ row and to the kings’ conceited discourses and posturing in front of the citizens of besieged Angers (2.1). The conflict between England and France was presented as a childish squabble: the two kings danced and sang; fought in a burlesque manner; were enormously amused by their own theories; and did not seem to have any political responsibility or even care that they did not. The staging thus capitalised on the theory of serious play developed by the Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga,who considered that war is a cultural manifestation with conventions similar to those of a game: Indeed, all fighting that is bound by rules bears the formal characteristics of play by that very limitation. . . . Fighting, as a cultural function, always presupposes limiting rules, and it requires, to a certain extent anyway, the recognition of its play-quality.9 In Gont¸a’s King John, the game-like nature of battles was suggested by their presentation in the form of a ballet: instead of mimicking a fight, the characters danced across the stage.10 The metaphor of war as a game became a sign of the kings’ imperfection, their cynicism and recklessness. Rhetoric, and playing in the theatrical sense, also undermined the seriousness of the plot. In the original text, at the gates of the city under siege, John and Philip of France are attempting to win over the citizens of Angers to their side by a display of rhetorical ingenuity that would


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befit actors trying to impress their audience. The Bastard makes explicit the histrionic metaphor: BASTARD: By heaven, these scroyles of Angers flout you, Kings, And stand securely on their battlements As in a theatre, whence they gape and point At your industrious scenes and acts of death. (2.1.373–6) The Romanian production reinforced the idea that the belligerents were merely actors exchanging lines, and the victims of their siege, spectators at a competition of rhetorical skills. The citizens of Angers, ‘summoned’ to the walls to hear the kings, as if they did not know they were surrounded by two armies, seemed to have been invited to watch a play. In Shakespeare, the parties fail to reach agreement as to who will attack first. John and Philip start their addresses to the citizens and interrupt each other, both claiming the floor at the same time and negotiating the moment of turn taking. Gont¸a’s actors presented this as excessively mannered, effeminate and ridiculous. King John proves a better fighter with words for the time being and delivers his exhortative discourse, promising, threatening and entreating at the same time. KING JOHN: These flags of France that are advanc`ed here Before the eye and prospect of your town, Have hither marched to your endamagement. The cannons have their bowels full of wrath, And ready mounted are they to spit forth Their iron indignation ’gainst your walls. . . . Which trust accordingly, kind citizens, And let us in, your king, whose laboured spirits, Forwearied in this action of swift speed, Craves harbourage within your city walls. (2.1.207–34) This speech presents the French as the real menace, while the English are the saviours. The Romanian audience would have been familiar with Anglo-French rivalry and may have considered it funny. However, the English playwright’s original intention seems more subtle. The presence of the townspeople – like the hostile silent presence of citizens in Richard III, 3.7 – and their refusal to trust either the English protestations of peaceful intent, or the French claim to supremacy calls any stereotyping into question.

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Shakespeare makes King Philip appeal more to the citizens’ reason than their feelings, stressing the notion of legitimacy. His argument for claiming the supremacy over the city is not sentimental, but strictly political: KING PHILIP: Lo, in this right hand, whose protection Is most divinely vowed upon the right Of him it holds, stands young Plantagenet, Son to the elder brother of this man And king o’er him and all that he enjoys. For this downtrodden equity we tread In warlike march these greens before your town. (2.1.236–42) Philip invokes the political and divine duty of the citizens as vassals of God’s representative on earth, the lawful Plantagenet (son of the elder brother) and not ‘this man’ (a common human being). He then promises peace to Angers if they simply fulfil their duty: Be pleas`ed then, KING PHILIP: To pay that duty which you truly owe To him that owes it, namely this young prince; And then our arms, like to a muzzled bear, Save in aspect, hath all offence seal’d up. (2.1.246–50) Ironically, the kings’ threats sound more like a juridical competition in which the two parties plead their cause in front of a jury (here the citizens of Angers). But the kings seem to be poor orators because neither of them succeeds in convincing the ‘judge’. In Gont¸a’s production, the citizens were placed on an elevated platform on the stage, so that John and Philip had to look up to them while delivering their speeches, which also tended to undermine their authority. To the spectators at the Theatre of Comedy, the inhabitants of the city under siege, like a discontented audience in the balconies after a bad performance, may have looked more powerful than the warriors. In Shakespeare’s play, the use of the heralds who are to try once more to persuade the citizens to open their gates might also suggest unsuccessful theatricals. The heralds prepare a masquerade, pretending they are bringing Angers the happy news that their king is paying a formal visit, as if the previous negotiations had not taken place and as if there were not a war going on:


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Here, after excursions, enter [at one door] the French Herald, with [a trumpeter], to the gates FRENCH HERALD: You men of Angers, open wide your gates And let young Arthur Duke of Britainne in. ... Enter [at another door] the English Herald, with a trumpeter ENGLISH HERALD: Rejoice, you men of Angers, ring your bells! King John, your king and England’s, doth approach. (2.1.300–13) The intervention of heralds (as well as messengers and ambassadors in other scenes) in Shakespeare’s King John reveals the artificiality of the conflict, the rulers’ excessive concern for form, which, the more indirect it sounds and the more words are uttered, is the farther from reality. However, Hubert does not seem to be impressed by the pomp of the two kings, as he has not been previously touched by their display of martial force or by their verbosity. Ironically, Shakespeare makes the very victims of the armed conflict, the population of Angers, solve the conflict. Hubert suggests that the kings settle their dispute by a marital contract – the French Dauphin will marry the English king’s niece. This solution is even more striking as it comes from somebody who is not in a position to have a royal marriage concluded. The flouting of this elementary rule once again stresses the kings’ incapacity to put an end to the war. To further emphasise their ridiculousness, the Romanian production featured a Hubert very similar in clothing – the cap especially – and countenance to a popular French cartoon character, the fat warrior Ob´elix, who fights the Roman occupation of Gaul. The fact that the solution to the war between England and France comes from an Ob´elix-like character (whose lack of intelligence, in the cartoon, is only compensated for by his impressive dimensions) made the actual situation on stage even more absurd. As King John’s armour, too, was that of an ancient Roman legionnaire, the conflict between England and France on the Bucharest stage was not be taken seriously. In Gont¸a’s King John, much of the comedy came from the contrasting representation of the two courts. The French court, with King Philip and Lewis, the Dauphin, was luxurious and mannerist, with oriental touches in clothes and gestures, not entirely free from kitsch.11 The English court, by contrast, was characterised by (apparent) military strictness. The extravagance of the French costumes, their hats, the patterns of their clothes, criticised by some reviewers, emphasised, once again, a national stereotype the audience could either accept or find amusing.12 Lewis, always accompanied by two coquettes from the French

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court (two travesty roles invented by the Romanian director) was a comic character whose military impulses were rendered in a satirical key, who found himself close to the throne only by accident, as a consequence of his alliance with Blanche of Spain. He was a spoilt child, playing the role of the clown in order to improve his position, speaking with the French r very distinctly pronounced. Critics like M. Popescu compared him to Romanian comic stereotypes of establishment figures from the late nineteenth century, like those portrayed by Romania’s best-known playwright I. L. Caragiale, a severe critic of manners. With Lewis, we also come to the level of topical satire in this production. He was the only character in Gont¸a’s production who remained a buffoon to the very end, with his bad jokes and erotic exhibitionism. In many ways, he was reminiscent of the Romanian dictator’s son, Nicu Ceaus¸escu, the only child of the family to be involved in politics, always looking for important positions in the Romanian Communist Party, more skilled at feasting than at doing the jobs appointed by his parents or counsellors, and imprisoned after the 1989 revolution. A similar topical allusion could be found in the figure of Cardinal Pandulph, who as papal legate represents a power above national kingship. In Shakespeare’s source, as in other versions of the story in sixteenth-century England, Pandulph is both a religious and a political threat. In Gont¸a’s King John, he was, like Lewis, a perfect clown, an awkward-looking middle-aged man (played by the comic actor Aurel Giurumia), and the only character dressed in twentieth-century clothes. He was wearing a rather shapeless greyish raincoat over workmen’s overalls – the former familiar from countless noir movies as costuming for spies or private detectives, the latter the dress of foremen in classical Romanian films of the 1970s and 1980s about the rise of the working class during the ‘golden epoch’ (the name by which Ceaus¸escu liked to refer to his rule). He walked around taking notes with indefatigable application, like any efficient and disciplined clerk, a ridiculous, but also sinister embodiment of the communist apparatchik. It was a clever modernisation of his function in Shakespeare’s text, where he has been assigned an official job, to watch both camps and both kings with the most vigilant eye. In Gont¸a’s production, Pandulph was both an instrument of the Church, and a member of the omnipresent and omnipotent secret police, the Romanian Securitate. By placing Pandulph in a comic but sinisterly grotesque register, the very hallmark of tragicomedy, the Romanian director managed to deconstruct a feared and hated institution. This mockery was nevertheless well received by official criticism in communist Bucharest, as it was


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interpreted as being directed solely against the Church, an institution much despised but also feared by Ceaus¸escu, who had become famous for pulling down an impressive number of places of worship all around Romania. Lucaciu, in his reviews of Gont¸a’s Regele Ioan, welcomed the director’s presentation of Cardinal Pandulph as a comic character, commenting on the ‘obscure power’ – the Church in general, be it Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox – that ‘takes over’ with ‘menacing monks marching in’. These extras do not appear in Shakespeare’s list of characters, but were added by Gont¸a. As we have seen, the result was ambivalent and could stand for both religious repression and communist oppression.

Tragicomedy and grotesque satire If the first part of the Romanian production made much of the comic potential of Shakespeare’s text, the second part (starting with Act 3) focused on its grotesque element. The transition was formed by the confrontation between Constance, going mad with grief for the loss of her child, and King Philip, behaving in a sexually aggressive manner towards her although she was unaware both of her own words and of his intentions (3.4). The scene was startling, with Iurie Darie (Philip), a handsome, still quite young actor, touching Gabriela Popescu (Constance) in a way that was shockingly intimate by the moral standards imposed by communist censorship. In the second part of the production, the tension created by the attempt at mutilating Arthur and his subsequent death, the noblemen’s treason, and finally, the poisoning of the king cast the play in a tragic mould. The shift to seriousness was also reflected in the stage set – a darkly lit maze of ropes, gallows and iron bars, moving ladders and platforms suggesting entrapment, imprisonment, political and psychological victimisation, and danger. The director intended this to be a complex image. It was an evocation of the so-called ‘dark age’ of Medieval Europe, with its torture and public executions, famines and epidemics. But it was also a reminder of the political prison camps and the obscurity and terror of the communist era, and of Romania’s literal darkness in the 1980s, with no electric lighting in the streets and at least two evenings of deliberate power failure every week in all Romanian homes – a strategy used by Ceaus¸escu to pay the country’s foreign debts. Various levels of the stage helped actors make spectacular entrances or exits and managed to suggest the dynamism and the drama of a struggle that took place, if not on an actual battlefield, at least in the characters’ minds, since the set’s ropes matched the colours of the actors’ clothes.

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The ending of Gont¸a’s King John was conceived in the same spirit. While the last survivors were trying to escape from the maze-like set, unfriendly grey figures stopped them and finally swallowed them up. Here, as throughout the second half, Gont¸a took his cue from the darker elements in Shakespeare’s original text, his images of violence and death. There are frequent references to blood and a glimpse of the battlefield full of bad-smelling corpses of dead soldiers, death as a ‘carrion monster’ (3.4.33) giving off an ‘odoriferous stench’ (3.4.26).13 Illness, too, is frequently used as an image of evil; villainy is a catching disease, which spreads quickly through dirt and smell. John’s lords revolt against his tyranny like a strong, healthy body that rejects a tumour about to break (4.2.79–81). To the images of violence are added those of vulnerability and powerlessness, establishing terror and oppression as major topoi of the play. Arthur and Constance in particular, as John’s principal victims in the original text, are surrounded by a vocabulary of insecurity, fear and subjection.

Tragicomedy as political resistance Staging a historical play with tragicomic content at the Theatre of Comedy, the Romanian director drew special attention to the theme of political histrionics, and the consequences of hypocrisy, superficiality and irresponsibility in politics for both the leader(s) and the ordinary people. The play’s apparent anti-clericalism meant that Gont¸a’s production was popular with adherents of the regime in the communist and officially atheist Romania of 1988. But, through the ambiguity of the Pandulph-figure, the Romanian production also suggested other possible types of resistance against an oppressive political regime, stirring up patriotic feelings that had no religious dimension, but that rhymed perfectly with ideals of freedom. In the process, Shakespeare’s dual theme of the ruler’s legitimacy and efficiency was given a new, topical meaning. If King John’s patriotism and resistance against Pandulph’s repression struck a positive chord with Romanian audiences, his negative qualities made him into a familiar figure of dictatorship. Gont¸a presented John as an ordinary man, with no lands and titles, who, after becoming the king of England, arrogantly starts to consider himself invincible, playing with history and with people’s lives, trying to find everybody’s price in order to bribe or threaten them. As played by Silviu St˘ anculescu (a star in Romanian history films), John became a self-contented monarch with a foolish countenance, shrewd but not intelligent, cruel but cowardly, sickly, suspicious of everyone and everything, going mad in his desire


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for power, and finally dying without glory. St˘ anculescu played John with a carefully nuanced irony. In its analysis of political (but also moral) imposture, Shakespeare’s text repeatedly comes back to the idea of legitimacy – or rather the futility of relying on mere titular legitimacy, and the need instead for moral legitimacy. Elinor’s prescient remark at the beginning, ‘Your strong possession much more than your right’ (1.1.39), is balanced by the Bastard’s conditional ‘Nought shall make us rue, / If England to itself do rest but true’ at the very end (5.7.116–17). This provided another wonderful opportunity for the Romanian director to exploit an innuendo directed both at the communist dictator’s rule and propaganda, and at his wife Elena Ceaus¸escu’s intellectual imposture; for although she had not graduated from a university, she had been given a doctoral degree and she had been awarded academic titles by important Romanian and foreign institutions. In the original text, both incapable John and weak Arthur are contrasted with their legendary and utterly legitimate predecessor, Richard Coeur-de-lion, the ultimate example of the ‘perfect’ leader (1.1.90): KING PHILIP: Richard that robbed the lion of his heart And fought the holy wars in Palestine. (2.1.3–4) In the argument between Queen Eleanor and Constance, Shakespeare makes the two mothers dispute their sons’ right to the throne of England in tough terms: ELEANOR: Who is it thou dost call usurper, France? CONSTANCE: Let me make answer: thy usurping son. ELEANOR: Out, insolent! Thy bastard shall be king That thou mayst be a queen and check the world. (2.1.120–3) It is the Bastard, King Richard’s illegitimate son, who emerges as the real hero. The corrupt king’s flaws as well as legitimate Arthur’s weakness become even more evident when contrasted with the Bastard’s virtues. He meditates extensively on the relationship between actual appearance, the social construction of identity, and inner worth: BASTARD: And so am I – whether I smack or no, And not alone in habit and device, Exterior form, outward accoutrement, But from the inward motion – to deliver

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Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age’s tooth; Which, though I will not practise to deceive, Yet to avoid deceit I mean to learn. (1.1.208–15) Although the Bastard is a cynical character, who has often been compared to comic figures like Touchstone or Autolycus, he is John’s real foil, the central character who directs audience response and who is, at the level of the plot, the good alternative for the country, thus suggesting that ability, not legitimacy, may be the more important issue. Grigore Gont¸a cast a ‘serious’ actor, S¸erban Ionescu, in the Bastard’s role. Ionescu played his character as a loyal patriot, brave, intelligent and with a strong sense of humour directed against hypocrites and traitors. His role developed on the most complex level, his voice being the strongest, with a rhetorical power that contrasted sharply with the verbosity of both the hysterical John and the perfidious Philip. The ending of the play, on the Romanian stage, was presented as unclear and troubled, predicting great restlessness – the calm before a terrible storm. For the producers and audience of 1988 communist Romania, the powerful debate between right and wrong, truth and perjury in King John was an incentive to revolt, an encouragement and hope for radical change.

Notes 1. John Elsom, Mai este Shakespeare contemporanul nostru? (Bucures¸ti: Meridiane, 1994), passim. 2. Quoted by S. Kerim, ‘Shakespeare la Craiova,’ in Formula As 585 (October 2003), 17. My translation. ˇ din gradina ˇ 3. Ana Blandiana, ˆIntˆamplari mea [Happenings in my Garden] (Bucures¸ti: Editura Ion Creangˇa, 1980). 4. William Shakespeare, Regele Ioan, translated by Dan Botta (Bucures¸ti: Editura de Stat pentru literaturˇa s¸i artˇa, 1955). 5. These books combined left-wing doctrine with nationalism. Most were historical novels, such as those by Mihail Sadoveanu, one of Romania’s most celebrated writers of the inter-war period, who had, in the fifties, agreed to collaborate with the communist regime. Frat¸ii Jderi (The Jder Brothers) and ˇ ¸ tilor (The S¸oimaru Clan) are probably the best examples of Neamul S¸oimares novels glorifying an almost mythical Romanian past. They were studied in all schools both before and after the 1989 Revolution. ˇ – ‘Lunatic, stop it’ – where lunateco is a vocative corre6. ‘Lunateco, ‘nceteaza’ sponding to the English ‘lunatic’; however, in Romanian, lunatec – the usual Romanian spelling would be, like in English, lunatic – is an obsolete and rare


7. 8.

9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Shakespeare and War word, employed in metaphorical or poetic phrases rather than in everyday language. ˇ 6.05.1988. D. Pavel, ‘De la cronicˇa la istorie,’ in Viat¸a student¸easca, ˆ ˇ 5.05.1988; I. Lucaciu, M. Popescu, ‘Recenzie la Regele Ioan,’ in Romania literara, ˇ am ˇ ana, ˆ ‘Recenzie la Regele Ioan,’ in Sapt 6.05.1988 & 13.05.1988; N. Gherghel, ‘Recenzie la piesa Regele Ioan,’ in Luceaf˘ arul, 7.05.1988. Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955), 89. ˆ V. Silvestru, ‘Recenzie la Regele Ioan,’ in Tribuna Romaniei, 1.06.1988. D. Kivu, ‘Recenzie la Regele Ioan,’ in Contemporanul, 29.04.1988. See for instance both reviews by Lucaciu (note 8). Caroline Spurgeon, Shakespeare’s Imagery and What It Tells Us (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), 181.

9 ‘Faking It’: Provenance, Persuasion and the Renaissance Military Subject Simon Barker

Experts have had a long and profitable association with the business of war. They work on the development and manufacture of armaments and are then invited to comment on their deployment and effects. Legal, constitutional and even genealogical experts are involved in the perennial problem of justifying war (as we see in Shakespeare’s Henry V and Henry VI plays); and experts can be deployed in the business of selling war to the people. Bertolt Brecht plays upon the latter idea when he introduces an ‘expert’ actor in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. As we shall see, this figure, ‘the Actor’, explains (and also undermines) the cultural resonance of traditional approaches to Shakespeare in an episode that implies a relationship between this resonance and a sense of political, warlike persuasion. It is hard not to think also of the ‘weapons experts’ who played such diverse roles in the execution of Operation Telic (the British involvement in Iraq), a campaign underpinned by quasi-Shakespearean rhetoric that explored distinct codes of military subjectivity. I am thinking of the now famous speech delivered by Lieutenant Tim Collins as the Royal Irish Regiment prepared to cross the frontier. He urged his soldiers to be ‘ferocious in battle but magnanimous in victory’, spoke of Iraq’s history and the humanity of its people, and reminded them of the significance of the ‘mark of Cain’.1 Shakespearean experts too were being asked to evaluate the politics of rhetoric and persuasion as the tanks entered Iraq. I shall return to the question of rhetoric, but want first to look a little more closely at the business of ‘expertise’. In a manner that seeks to emulate Brecht’s somewhat playful and populist approach to matters of considerable seriousness, I have taken part of the title for this chapter from a British television series that questions the idea of ‘the expert’ in a compelling way. Channel Four’s Faking It is popular ‘reality TV’ but has a subversive appeal which chimes 109


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with Brecht’s obsession with the power of drama simultaneously to underpin and undermine the structures of human organisation and question the provenance of those who rise to power within these structures. The programme has a simple format. According to the RDF Media website: Faking It is a transformational battle against the odds. Our hero is plucked from their natural habitat and given four weeks to master a skill well enough to fool a group of expert judges. During the month of intensive training, top practitioners, famous in their field, tutor the faker. Recently a young middle-class man fooled experts into believing that he was a nightclub bouncer; an Anglican priest transformed himself into a second-hand car salesman; and a classical musician became a DJ in a nightclub. In other episodes a punk rocker passed himself off as an orchestral conductor and a biker learned to play professional polo. Although not always successful, the subversive nature of the trick is profound. The process whereby the counterfeit, schooled by experts, becomes sufficiently convincing to fool other experts, subjects the whole notion of ‘expertise’ to something like a carnival inversion of authority and power. Examples of counterfeit soldiers are ubiquitous in Renaissance drama and in the writing of those many experts who wrote back to the quasiabsolutist Tudor and Stuart states on the issue of military subjectivity. O PER SE O, probably by Thomas Dekker, certainly 1612, is just one example: These may well be called counterfeit soldiers, for not one (scarce) among the whole army of them ever discharged so much as a caliver: nothing makes them soldiers but old mandilions [soldiers’ sleeveless coats], which they buy at the broker’s.2 An outraged voice rails against the counterfeiting of the very military subjectivity that contemporary military experts were keen to reform and make certain. O PER SE O contains a description of how beggars, who had never actually seen a battlefield, faked wounds using ‘unslaked lime and soap’ in order to make it appear that they had. This text appeared as part of a considerable body of prose work on the subject of the ideal (and genuine) military subject, calling for the disciplining of soldiers, the regulation of their bodies, and the education of their minds.3 There

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was much at stake, so the little scenes played out daily on the streets of London, where counterfeit soldiers could not be distinguished from the real thing, understandably appalled these experts. These fakers called into question the provenance of the military profession and ultimately, therefore, the authority of the crown. The military writers were of the same class and political persuasion as those who were similarly indignant about the professional actor who could play the king – and often the king as a soldier – in daily licensed, but nonetheless subversive public theatres. Theatre raised ‘faking it’ to new levels of subversion by blurring the boundary between the mystique of power and the power of representation. This is a point not lost on critics who have been looking at the way that militarism was played out in this new kind of theatre. An actor clearly fakes it as King Henry, but is King Henry only faking it when he plays Herod to the people of Harfleur? Then there is Caius Martius Coriolanus faking it in the forum as a kind of ‘democrat’, a dramatic crisis in the play that can be thought of afresh in the context of earlymodern theatre-goers threading their way past counterfeit soldiers on the way to the performance.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Brecht’s Arturo Ui Brecht considered Julius Caesar to be Shakespeare’s ultimate meditation on war.4 This may have been because the play so clearly fuses narratives of militarism with the rhetoric of statecraft. Renaissance military writers commonly cited Caesar as a model military subject, as he extolled the virtues of the military life and the idea of war as a kind of guarantee of national identity.5 In Arturo Ui Brecht marshals these same issues in an examination of the way that fascist leaders gained power in the 1930s. I approach Julius Caesar by way of the scene of ‘faking it’ in Arturo Ui – partly because of Brecht’s clear interest in the militarist rhetoric of both Shakespeare and fascism, but also in support of his reputation as a debunker of militarist rhetoric. The enlisting of Shakespeare’s plays in European militaristic propaganda of the 1930s and 1940s is a familiar area of investigation. The Nazi interpretations of The Merchant of Venice and their heavily coded school editions of Coriolanus come to mind, as do the extraordinary scenes at the Com´edie Franc¸aise between December 1933 and February 1934 when the director of Ren´e-Louis Piachaud’s Coriolanus was replaced by the chief of the Sˆ uret´e following extensive right-wing rioting.6 In this


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volume, Niels B. Hansen describes a range of politically charged productions of Hamlet in 1930s Denmark. Less prominent at the time, because of the very context they addressed, were the 1930s and 1940s German evocations of Shakespeare on behalf of anti-militarism. These included Hans Rothe’s radio translation of Coriolanus in 1932, and Brecht’s examination of the relationship between rhetoric, persuasion and political hegemony in Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui. Brecht’s ‘Parabel’ (‘parable’) for the theatre was developed from an earlier prose work set in classical Italy, which Walter Benjamin described as ‘eine Satire auf Hitler im Stile der Historiographen der Renaissance’ (‘a satire on Hitler in the style of the Renaissance historians’).7 The American setting for the play that followed provided a structure of analogy that traces the rise of Arturo Ui from street-corner bully to military dictator. Brecht’s episodic scene structure and his use of a Prologue and an Epilogue owe much to classical theatrical models as well as to the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The first appearance of Arturo Ui is accompanied by an Announcer’s question: Wem f¨allt da nicht Richard der Dritte ein? Seit den Zeiten der roten und weißen Rose Sah man nicht mehr so große Fulminante und blutige Schl¨achterein! Doesn’t he make you think of Richard the Third? Has anybody ever heard Of blood so ghoulishly and lavishly shed Since wars were fought for roses white and red? (Prologue, 38–41)8 Arturo Ui raises important questions concerning the power and effect of Shakespeare’s language that are central to Brecht’s exploration of political persuasion and militarist rhetoric. The scene in which Julius Caesar is cited is often very humorous in performance, but we should heed Brecht’s remark that: ‘Sei aber die Lektion nicht gelernt, sei es gef¨ahrlich, ein Volk zum Gel¨achter u ¨ ber einen Machthaber aufzufordern, das es ihm gegen¨ uber sozusagen hat an Ernst fehlen lassen, usw.?’ (‘it is risky to encourage a people to laugh at a potentate after once failing to take him seriously’).9 In order to enhance his sense of ‘presence’ and his powers of persuasion, Arturo Ui summons an elderly Shakespearean actor who claims to be able to teach Ui ‘the classical manner’ in ten minutes. Indeed, within a few lines, the Actor has Ui strutting the stage in the

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style of Hitler, before proceeding to coach him in the skills of public speaking: DER SCHAUSPIELER: Shakespeare. Nichts anderes. C¨asar. Der antike Held. Er zieht ein B¨uchlein aus der Tasche. Was halten Sie von der Antoniusrede? Am Sarg C¨asars. Gegen Brutus. F¨ uhrer der Meuchelm¨ order. Ein Muster der Volksrede, sehr ber¨ uhmt. Ich spielte den Antonius in Zenith, 1908. Genau, was Sie brauchen, Herr Ui. Er stellt sich in Positur und rezitiert, Zeile f¨ur Zeile, die Antoniusrede. Mitb¨ urger, Freunde, R¨ omer, euer Ohr! Ui spricht ihm nach aus dem B¨uchlein, mitunter ausgebessert von dem Schauspieler, jedoch wahrt er im Grund seinen knappen und rauhen Ton.

THE ACTOR: Shakespeare. Nothing else. Julius Caesar. The Roman hero. He draws a little book from his pocket. What do you say to Mark Antony’s speech? Over Caesar’s body. Against Brutus. The ringleader of Caesar’s assassins. A model of demagogy. Very famous. I played Antony in Zenith in 1908. Just what you need, Mr Ui. He takes a stance and recites Mark Antony’s speech line for line. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! Reading from the little book, Ui speaks the lines after him. Now and then the actor corrects him, but in the main Ui keeps his rough staccato delivery. (47) The Actor’s choice of Mark Antony’s speech clearly contains an irony for an audience that knows Shakespeare’s play; and the figure of the Actor in itself seems a kind of joke at the expense of a worn-out tradition of English classical acting. Notwithstanding this, the idea of Shakespearean verse as the epitome of rhetoric, and the ease with which Ui masters it, opens up a range of questions about the structures of power and language in both Julius Caesar and Arturo Ui. Brecht’s play uses the speech from Julius Caesar in a seemingly unmediated way (in terms of the qualities of rhetoric) that depends upon a range of assumptions about Shakespeare’s language, including the customary elevation of Shakespeare to a symbol of high cultural worth. The Actor is keen to impress upon Ui that Shakespeare offers the grand style (‘Sie meinen den großen Stil’) that will suit his desire to dominate those listening. It is an aesthetic that knows no history, since the Actor claims that ‘Die Kunst kennt keinen Kalender’ (‘Art knows no calendar’) (44). Yet Arturo Ui and his gang have little idea about what Shakespeare means in these terms, so that at another


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level, the focus is on the sheer power, the theatricality, of Shakespearean language. In Brecht’s play this is clearly very accessible. Its transforming power can be apprehended in minutes as Ui takes over the speech and begins to deliver it with a menace that presages his later militaristic speeches. It is a kind of sleight-of-hand that will empower the individual who learns the trick. As Ui remarks

Nur kommt’s nicht darauf an, was der Professor denkt ¨ Der oder jener Uberschlaue, sondern Wie sich der kleine Mann halt seinen Herrn Vorstellt. Basta. (35) (I am not trying to convince professors / And smart-alecks. My object is the little / Man’s image of his master)

It does not matter what the professor thinks (or the smart-aleck) but it does matter what the Little Man’s image of his master is – and this gives Shakespeare a highly charged and peculiarly compelling symbolic role in Brecht’s play. The point is clearly one of form above content (as Ui’s remark about professors makes clear) and the force of the speech lies in the audience recognising it as a medium for persuasion, an index of mastery, and the appropriate register for war. Brecht’s use of Julius Caesar allows us to revisit Shakespeare in terms of the relationship between war, rhetoric and persuasion in historically different contexts. One involves the distinct categories into which can be placed the various forms of rhetoric in the play itself. It might be said that Mark Antony’s language offers a kind of shattered reflecting glass that deconstructs the smooth linguistic flow of the general rhetorical discourse of the play. In this sense, his rhetoric, instead of being regarded as set in a context provided by the conspirators, is itself a context for the language of the conspirators. Secondly, this intercontextual relationship can be extended into the political effect and philosophical underpinning of the play in terms of its 1599 theatrical and historical setting. This was a potentially unsettling play in a period of concern over the power of theatrical representation in the dual public spheres of the playhouse and politics. Shakespeare’s treatment of his sources and his sensitivity to narratives of war and history in the context of contemporary politics was as charged in his day as Brecht’s was in his.

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In a convincing account of the shifts in rhetorical register that take place in the play, David Daniell has noted how forcefully Mark Antony dominates the whole Forum scene: What comes into the play with Antony is a different rhetorical skill in a tone of passionate mourning. By contrast with everyone else in the play (even Portia, who should be similar in this), his language over long passages is apparently driven by feeling for someone else. Towering above the Forum scene is his grief for Caesar. This is counter to Stoic insensibility to suffering, now challenged through the second half of the play. Antony, it is true, is a master of rhetorical, and thus political, craft, ruthlessly working to make that grief stir his hearers to violence in support of him. . . . But in the Forum scene, whatever he is saying, his linguistic eye, if we may so express it, is on his dead friend and leader, in grief for him.10 There is, however, a very sharp distinction to be made between Stoicism as an ‘insensibility to suffering’ and Stoicism as a liberation from the constraints of enduring grief in the pursuit of action (war, vengeance, justice). Mark Antony’s rhetoric throughout the Forum scene contrasts with that of the conspirators’ continuing justification of the death of Caesar. The ‘personal’ has become ‘political’ in an agitating way, substituting the living Caesar (of the first two acts of the play) for a ‘resurrected’ Caesar of emerging myth. What is central here is, of course, a myth that linked Caesar to his military reputation – a model to many writing about war in early-modern England and elsewhere. Speculating on the sources of drama, theatre historians have drawn attention to evidence of early funeral rites, along with other folk customs and rituals, as a possible ‘origin’. A speaker, perhaps a ‘plain blunt man’, as Mark Antony describes himself (3.2.213), would step forward and rehearse the life of the deceased, perhaps coming close to acting out significant and memorable deeds. This, certainly, is Antony’s approach. His grief may be ‘personal’, but his rhetoric seeks to raise the figure of Caesar from the dead in order that it will play an active part in the campaign to come. Alone on the stage he rehearses this approach for the audience in a speech famous for its images of war: Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood! Over thy wounds now do I prophesy – Which like dumb mouths do ope their ruby lips To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue –


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A curse shall light upon the limbs of men; Domestic fury and fierce civil strife Shall cumber all the parts of Italy; Blood and destruction shall be so in use, And dreadful objects so familiar, That mothers shall but smile when they behold Their infants quartered with the hands of war, All pity choked with custom of fell deeds; And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge, With Ate by his side come hot from hell, Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice Cry ‘havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war, That this foul deed shall smell above the earth With carrion men, groaning for burial. (3.1.261–78) The imagery is militaristic and merciless, but the rhetorical technique includes a medieval Christian sense of the return of Caesar as a restless ghost. This predicts later events in the play when Caesar appears like the ghost of Hamlet’s father or the spirit of Don Andrea in Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy – two other soldiers slain ignobly. Yet in this play the ghost, rather than making a self-ordained appearance as the unsatisfied spirit from beyond the grave, is actually ‘summoned’ by Mark Antony’s rhetoric whilst at the same time giving that rhetoric its very source and authority. There is a kind of ventriloquism at work here: Caesar’s wounds ‘ope their ruby lips’ (3.1.263) using Mark Antony’s voice, just as Mark Antony ‘spoke’ earlier through the voice of his servant (3.1.124–38). This sense of removal, distancing the utterance from the speaker, again draws attention to the sheer theatricality of Antony’s rhetoric in the next part of the play. Critics have noted the centrality of Caesar’s body as a dominant part of the action from his death onwards, a signifier of multiple meanings for those who speak above it, and clearly a presence on the stage capable of drawing varied responses. For most of the time the body seems to promote language: speeches, excuses, claims of its significance to history, military prowess, and so on. However, the act of resurrection, the giving of a voice to Caesar, makes the body more than simply a prop. Caesar’s ‘spirit’, his mantle, with its provenance and evidence of the ‘speaking wounds’, the written words of his will (deferred but again, finally given a voice by Mark Antony), are all marshalled as a source of Antony’s rhetoric. Caesar is his scriptwriter and prompter. It is as if the dullness of

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Brutus’s prosaic funeral oration can be accounted for by his having failed to read the script, or listen to the prompting of the revived Caesar – a figure whose death marks not the end of his linguistic presence in the play, but its beginning. Mark Antony’s appeal to the listeners on the stage (and to the theatre audience itself) is successful not because it is inherently sympathetic or particularly intellectually advanced by comparison with that of Brutus and the others. Nor is it simply a model of rhetoric in terms of the classical rules of oration, although there are elements of these.11 And it is not as though Mark Antony, in some way, ‘becomes’ Caesar for the duration of the Forum scene. Rather, this is the anti-humanist stance of Brecht’s Arturo Ui. In the Brecht play, there is much evidence of the persuasive quality of Shakespearean acting, a sense of the appeal of ‘the classic style’, and an idea of the ‘word against the world’ as in Julius Caesar (3.2.120). Yet the source of Ui’s rhetorical authority lies with the summoning of a figure from the past in a chain of meaning that draws the modern dictator back into the symbolic realm of history. Shakespeare wrote a script for Mark Antony so that he, in turn, could summon the ‘spirit’ of Caesar in order to give himself an authority that will persuade the on-stage listeners that their only response is one of active participation. In Shakespeare’s play this is action against Brutus. In Brecht’s play rhetoric is used perversely by the gangsters to give an air of nobility to Arturo Ui when he comes to address those whom he wishes to persuade to become his followers. Thus recast, the Ui/Hitler figure becomes the chilling embodiment of the emerging militarism of the Dritte Reich – whose rhetoric was epitomised by the rituals that took place in the ‘classical’ amphitheatre at N¨ urnberg. Whatever its own limitations in terms of popularising a radical theatre for the masses, the legacy of Brecht’s theatre surely includes an acute awareness of the relations between dramatic literature and narratives of history and war. Walter Benjamin’s note concerning the earlier experiment with a prose work ‘on Hitler in the style of the Renaissance historians’ is a revealing one. Brecht was concerned with the Renaissance as the ‘early modern’ because he saw it as the historical epoch that brought about the conditions for early capitalism in terms of both economic base (Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder) and philosophical, superstructural crisis (in, say, Leben des Galilei), even if purist critics have accused him of failing to mesh the two in a properly Marxist way. The period provided a realm of analogue that suited his notion of ‘parable’ through an intelligible sense of historical difference. Yet he was also drawn to the Renaissance as, in itself, a source of myth that was


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particularly at work in the West in the years between the First and Second World Wars. The rhetoric of fascism was based to a very large degree upon spectacle, symbolism and theatrical images, as a kind of pastiche derived from an ideal of the ancient world that had itself been mediated through the ‘recovery’ of classicism during the European Renaissance. Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui sought, through its juxtaposition of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar speech with the ascendant fascist rhetoric, to expose the materiality of the language and symbolism of political and military power in relation to a double set of listeners – the Plebeians on the stage and the audience. Recent approaches to Julius Caesar have, like Brecht’s, been greatly concerned with the historical relationship between military rhetoric and the people subject to it, and this area of scholarship has provoked a fierce critical debate. To a large extent this debate has depended upon an exploration of the appropriation of images of Rome during the English Renaissance, as distinct from the more general sense of the pan-European Renaissance. Edward Pechter notes, for example, that ‘whatever else it may have meant to Shakespeare, Rome meant the public world, acting in history, political power’.12 Yet investigation of the precise terms of the engagement between Shakespeare’s text and the accompanying (non-dramatic) authority of the classical world has shifted the argument towards the way that rhetoric itself performed as an ideal example of the classical world resonating in the realpolitik of the Elizabethan court and in scholarly discourse. Timothy Hampton has noticed how the play is ‘haunted by rhetoric’s capacity to skew the significance of reality’ (and is full of letters, messages, orations and ‘scripts’); thus it became a touchstone for a late-Elizabethan world obsessed with the power of the spoken and written word.13 Indeed, some critics have viewed the play as so bound up with prophesy and the interpretation of recent history that it actually predicted the downfall of the Tudor and Stuart absolutist project, which itself depended upon a rhetoric of divine authority, based upon narratives of ‘history’ fashioned around an origin in ancient Rome.14 For Robert Miola, Julius Caesar may be one of the ‘intellectual origins of the English Revolution’ in that it revealed the sheer untrustworthiness of sources of authority.15 While contemporary scholars were studying classical Rome, constructing, in Marjorie Garber’s clever phrase, ‘A Rome of One’s Own’, Shakespeare was revealing the arbitrary nature of Rome’s most valued legacy, the skill and the power of rhetoric – and the practices of warfare.16 However, while the struggle continues to validate the reputation of Caesar, to make his spirit somehow authentic by the use of rhetoric

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(backed up by his testament and all manner of other guarantees), the focus in the play shifts to the effect of all this upon the consciousness of the Plebeians. This shift of emphasis is tantalisingly matched by the evolving critical attention given to the play over the last decade or so and has been the source of some of the more profound arguments about its rhetoric. On the one hand, Shakespeare’s foregrounding of the role of the populace (however malleable), and its admission of the cry of ‘Peace, freedom and liberty!’ (3.1.111), not only acknowledges a crisis in the absolutism of the Tudor administration, but also anticipates a tendency towards modern democracy.17 Another point of view, however, suggests that Shakespeare offers a glimpse of a more universal and discouraging vision of the rhetoricsoaked mob. The play is clearly framed by a certain disquiet amongst the Roman authorities over the role of popular carnival in a state whose e´ lite is already anxious over the limits of power within its own ascendancy. Similarly perhaps, carnival has been the subject of anxiety in the world of modern criticism and a clear source of opposing views: is it on the one hand a potentially subversive, liberating force which carries forward the ambitions of ‘the people’ (which are always inherently opposed to the e´ lite), or is it a means of control, releasing a popular spirit temporarily only in order to contain it more firmly in the longer term? It is an important question, partly because it is analogous to theories about the role of theatre itself and thus a key conditioning factor in long-standing arguments over the ‘radicalism’ of the Elizabethan theatre as itself a kind of subversive carnival. One thing that is clear is that carnival needs people in the same way as the theatre needs an audience. Shakespeare’s acknowledgement of the role of the populace in Julius Caesar determines for the play a particular place in debates that have sought to promote ‘universal’ ideas of the mob, dehistoricising it in a fundamental way which has implications for the evaluation of rhetoric in Shakespeare’s period and our own. Brecht’s ‘mob’ is the mob of gangsters subject to Ui’s rhetoric: yet these figures are not simply ‘open to persuasion’ in the sense that they are empty vessels. Rather, as Brecht makes clear, they are already ideologically constructed to be susceptible to that rhetoric, and in this there is a clear lesson for an examination of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and its relationship to warfare. Brecht shows the economic and historical circumstances that allowed the rise of Hitler, and he reveals something of the power of rhetoric to mobilise ideas of the past in pragmatic and neutralising ways. Those constructed by this history, shaped by the rhetoric of Shakespeare’s Mark Antony, appear to have no other history. Like


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propaganda, this discourse succeeds by exhausting alternatives, making them seem less powerful or inappropriate. Julius Caesar shows a similar kind of pre-programmed mob, always already susceptible because of the historical and ideological conditions that have informed their own subjectivity. The play’s constant concern is with the materiality of rhetoric and the contest for the meaning of history (in terms of the spirit of Caesar) and the general issues of monarchy, war and the state that were topical for Shakespeare’s audience. It invites a severe critique of the power of rhetoric: political reality being too often a fake, a mere construct of rhetoric. It is an issue that should concern us as much in the modern world as it clearly concerned Shakespeare in his. We are affected by rhetoric (as subjects) at the very point when we are urged to think of ourselves as consistently able to see it as somehow transparent. Shakespeare’s mastery of the terms of rhetoric has certainly impressed some of us as an ideal, just as it impressed Arturo Ui’s supporters as they gathered for war. Yet at the heart of theatre is its demonstration of rhetoric as artifice, a device that encourages division, which leads, only ‘seemingly’ inevitably, to the field of battle.

Notes 1. See transcript in the Sun, Wednesday, 21.05.2003, p. 5. 2. Thomas Dekker (?), O PER SE O (London, 1612), in A. V. Judges, The Elizabethan Underworld: A Collection of Tudor and Early Stuart Tracts and Ballads, first published 1930, in Key Writings on Subcultures 1535–1727, Classics from the Underworld (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), Vol. 1, 373–4. 3. For an account of this military prose see Simon Barker, War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007). 4. This is the general sentiment in Brecht’s notes for Die Gesch¨afte des Herrn Julius Caesar [The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar] (Reinbek: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 2002), passim. 5. Examples include: Styward; Sutcliffe; Geoffrey Gates, The Defence of Militarie Profession (London, 1591); James Achesome, The Military Garden. Or Instructions For All Young Souldiers (London, 1629); Richard Bernard, The Bible-Battels Or The Sacred Art Military: For the Rightly Wageing of Warre According to Holy Writ (London, 1629). 6. For a fuller discussion of some of these inter-war propagandist uses of Shakespeare see Simon Barker, ‘Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: Texts and Histories,’ in Peggy Knapp (ed.), Assays: Critical Approaches to Medieval and Renaissance Texts (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987), 108–28.

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7. Walter Benjamin, Versuche u¨ ber Brecht: Herausgegeben und mit einem Nachwort versehen von Rolf Tiedemann (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1967), 125. I am grateful to Elisabeth Rother for her translation skills. 8. This literary link with Richard III is reinforced by Ui’s wooing of Dullfleet’s widow (Scene 13), recalling Richard’s wooing of Anne in the second scene of Shakespeare’s play, and again by the appearance to Ui, in a nightmare, of the ghost of the murdered Roma/R¨ ohm in Scene 14. Richard III is a reference point in Brecht’s play since its protagonist is a recognisable authority in the business of persuasion and ‘theatricality’ as well as a memorably bloodthirsty source of civil war. 9. Bertolt Brecht, Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1965), 130. Quoted in Bertolt Brecht, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, ed. John Willet and Ralph Manheim, 107. For a longer analysis of Brecht’s play and its relation to the rhetoric of Julius Caesar see Simon Barker, ‘ ‘‘It’s an actor, boss. Unarmed’’: the Rhetoric of Julius Caesar,’ in Julius Caesar: New Critical Essays, ed. Horst Zander (New York and Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2004), 227–39. 10. David Daniell (ed.), Julius Caesar, The Arden Shakespeare, Third Series (Walton-on-Thames: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 70. 11. Ibid. Daniell traces the classic forms of negatio, demonstratio, etc. in the various sections of Mark Antony’s speeches. 12. Edward Pechter, ‘Julius Caesar and Sejanus: Roman Politics, Inner Selves, and the Powers of the Theatre,’ in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries: Essays in Comparison, ed. E. A. Honigmann (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), 60–6, 63. 13. Timothy Hampton, Writing from History: The Rhetoric of Exemplarity in Renaissance Literature (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), 225. 14. See Goldberg, Chapter 1 and passim. 15. Robert Miola, ‘Julius Caesar and the Tyrannicide Debate,’ Renaissance Quarterly 38 (1985), 271–89, 271. 16. Marjorie Garber, ‘A Rome of One’s Own,’ Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers: Literature as Uncanny Causality (London: Methuen, 1987). 17. An example of the kind of criticism that suggests this optimistic interpretation is Annabel Patterson’s Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989).

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Part III Translation and Adaptation

‘I can with ease translate it to my will’ (King John, 2.1.513)

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10 Religion and War in Romanian Translations of Henry V Madalina Nicolaescu

There is a long history of the reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s plays for political purposes on the East European stage, usually translated into the local language. Translations are too often assumed by the ordinary reader to be faithful, but like stage performances and to some extent critical readings, they are likely to reinvent Shakespeare for different cultural and historical circumstances. Shakespeare’s Henry V is suffused with echoes of a militarist culture, in which pragmatic and religious arguments such as are to be found in sermons and military treatises converge in attempts to enlist support for the war. What renders it most rewarding for present-day oppositional critics and/or stage directors is the fact that such aggressive discourses are often juxtaposed with a countercurrent of covert expressions of dissatisfaction with and anxiety about the costs of war.1 But it is the mere presence of pro-war rhetoric in the play that has more often been stressed in its reception – and never more so than in mid twentieth-century Romania. This chapter therefore sets out to trace the way two Romanian translations of Henry V responded to the traumatic contexts in which they were produced. Focusing on the relationship between war and religion in the play, I will argue that while the historical context of the 1590s may well have accommodated an uneasy combination of a pragmatic, ‘Machiavellian’, and a mythic, providential approach to war, the historical and geographical readings produced in Romania during World War II and the Cold War could not accept such ‘mixes’. The first section of this chapter will look at the heterogeneity of the militarist culture at the end of the 1590s, focusing on the religious stances adopted in favour of war. The other two sections will deal with translations of Henry V into Romanian published in 1940 and in the late 1950s. The latter sections will investigate how the translations 125


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incorporate the martial positions taken up by some of the characters in Shakespeare’s play into the major ideological and political discourses prevalent in Romania in those times, and how at the same time the translations introduce an oppositional distance into these very discourses.

War and religion Designed to participate in the patriotic ethos and war fever of the 1590s, Henry V responded to what Joel Altman calls ‘the audience’s eagerness to watch a play celebrating an historic English victory in anticipation of present success’, in particular in the difficult, expensive, and increasingly resented war in Ireland.2 On 21 February 1599, Lancelot Andrewes delivered a sermon at court justifying and legitimatising Essex’s campaign in Ireland.3 This war, Andrewes argued, ‘has his time and commission from God’. Stephen Gosson’s tract The Trumpet of Warre published one year earlier spells out the meanings of such a ‘time of war’. It is a time ‘wherein it shall be just and necessary for the soul of man to contrive weapons and engines of offence’. Gosson explains that ‘in the time of warre the battles fought are saide to be godds battles’; at such moments ‘He [God] is saide to teach the fingers of the warrior to fight’. In view of this divine sanction of war, Gosson is convinced that it is a priest’s duty to ‘stand forth and encourage the soldier’. Such support of war ‘hath beene the practice of the church of England by the testimonye of our owne Chronicles, when the honour of our own nation, the chivalrie of England hath beene in the fielde . . . ’. In time-honoured fashion, he therefore feels confident to describe wars fought on behalf of England as ‘charitable and just’, whereas the ones the enemy (Spain) waged ‘in the Indies, in Portingale, in Granada, in the low countries, in France and against us’ were all unjust and uncharitable.4 The invocation of political and religious grounds, of amor patriae and caritas, overlap. Andrewes adopts a position similar to the one championed by Gosson, namely that priests have a divine assignment to support wars. He insists that there is ‘an use of Divinitie in war and an use of war in Divinitie’ (186). God himself, in whose imperiall style . . . they [the policies of war and religion] both meet, The Lord of Hosts, The holy one of Israel . . . assigneth an employment to the Priests . . . to animate the companies in the Lord . . . letting them see the right of their cause, and how ready God is to receive the right. (188)

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Given this assignment, Andrewes declares that Essex’s expedition against the Irish is ‘most just and most lawfull’. Andrewes even goes so far as to define the campaign against the Irish in terms of a holy war: ‘it is a war sanctified, they shall consecrate their hands, they shall præliari prælia Domini, that fight against them [the Irish]’ (186). The Archbishop’s endorsment of war in Henry V pales in comparison with Andrewes’s enthusiasm. Andrewes approves of war on moral grounds because it ‘awakes us from the lethargy of sin that the security of peace hath cast us in’ (184). Such views were commonplace in those times. Dudley Digges added a political perspective to such moral endorsement of war and held that ‘war is sometimes lesse hurtful and more to be wished in a well governed state than peace, so as to dissuade bewitched men from ease and pleasure’.5 The didactic play A Larum for London warns about the danger of indulging in peace and ignoring the permanent threat that Spain represents, and describes prosperous, peace-loving citizens in derogatory terms: their bodies are ‘used to soft effeminate silkes / And their nice mindes set all on Dalliance / which makes them fat for slaughter, fit for spoil’. Geoffrey Gates’s approval of war and distrust of peace recalls Machiavelli’s widely read book, The Art of War: ‘God gives us peace so that we may rotten in idleness and become dull of wits, slow in courage, weak handed, feeble kneeded.’6 The religious support granted to the state’s military exploits could extend to actions that are unacceptable by our modern standards. To the dismay of some modern critics, pillaging is authorised and even praised in Canterbury’s speech:7 Others [bees] like soldiers, arm`ed in their stings, Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds, Which pillage they with merry march bring home To the tent royal of their emperor. (1.2.193–6) Plunder was a normal part of war because it was the principal means whereby soldiers were rewarded. All armies issued strict rules to govern this behaviour because of the necessity of maintaining military discipline. But the suffering that resulted – when practised by the other side – is also ubiquitously recorded in eyewitness accounts, in plays like A Larum for London, and in paintings, particularly those by Dutch artists.8 Gosson, of course, candidly endorses pillage and states that ‘the spoile and waste of the countrie is to be reckoned for a part, because it


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is part of the punishment [which war represents] . . . the spoile may be divided among the soldiers, who deserve as well to be partake[r]s of the sweet, as of the soure and bitter brunts of war’. The Archbishop’s image of an orderly and concerted pillage, with the principal returns meant for the royal coffers, can be said to amount to what the queen might have regarded as an ‘ideal’ situation, which the English army failed to attain. Elizabeth complained about individual, unauthorised pillaging (of the type that Henry V also punished in Shakespeare’s play) and about soldiers’ ‘embezzling’ the royal plunder.9 Recent research on the myth of Elizabeth has pointed out that the line between praise and criticism of the monarch was thin and that ostensible celebrations of the queen may actually have functioned as ‘Trojan Horses’, introducing the opposite perspective.10 This is partially the case, I think, with Andrewes’s sermon, the second part of which deals with sins committed in war, and outweighs in length and rhetorical power the first part endorsing Essex’s war against the Irish. A closer look at the rhetorical organisation of the sermon might suggest that it was designed more as a warning or even as an expression of misgivings and scepticism towards war than as an encouragement. Not unlike the jeremiads delivered at Paul’s Cross, Andrewes’s sermon focuses on the sins of the English, which could make them lose God’s favour. The legitimacy of Essex’s war is thus made conditional on the soldiers’ impeccable moral behaviour. Andrewes insists that the war against the foreign foe and rebellious subject should be doubled by a war against the internal rebel and enemy, which is sin and ‘our wicked rebellious lusts’ (189). ‘When thou goest forth against thy enemie, goe forth against sinne’ is the leitmotiv of the second part of the sermon. If the English soldiers fail to do so, they are bound to lose God’s assistance. The result would be disastrous, as only God determines the outcome of the war. ‘Therefore’, Andrewes concludes, ‘without keeping from sinne, there is no keeping God; out of whose keeping; there is no safety’ (190). He reminds his audience that war ‘may be sport in the beginning: it will be bitterness in the end, if it hold long’ (188). Some of the sins Andrewes inveighed against can be identified in the Archbishop’s praise of wars of the past. The Archbishop urges the king to imitate his ancestor’s actions: Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire’s tomb, From whom you claim; invoke his warlike spirit, And your great-uncle’s, Edward the Black Prince,

Madalina Nicolaescu


Who on the French ground played a tragedy, Making defeat on the full power of France, Whiles his most mighty father on a hill Stood smiling to behold his lion’s whelp Forage in blood of French nobility. (1.2.103–10; my emphasis) The Archbishop dwells on the Black Prince ‘foraging’ in the blood of French nobility while his father watches the scene smiling. Andrew Gurr glosses this use of ‘to forage’ as to ‘feed on, engorge himself with (used of armies taking food from local resources)’.11 Such violent language was recurrent in the sundry hortatory tracts after 1588, such as Anthony Martin’s An Oration Militarie to all Natural Englishmen . . . to More Resolution in These Dangerous Times. Written by a Zealous Affected Subject (1588). The cannibalistic association in the Black Prince feasting on French blood is, however, absent in Holinshed’s description of the event, which does not suggest any excess in violence.12 Shakespeare might have introduced it to add a covert ironical dimension to Canterbury’s panegyric of military virtue. The irony becomes apparent when contrasting the Archbishop with Andrewes: the type of action praised by the former is excoriated by the latter, who warns against the danger of ‘corrupting our compassion, and casting of pitie quite, and spilling blood like water’ (my emphasis; Andrewes, 191). Those who now reject the concept of holy war on moral grounds will find it disturbing that Andrewes could publicly state that Policie of Warr and divinitie are no such strangers one to another, as the one must avoid while the other is in place, but that, as loving neighbours and good friends (here) they meet together, they stand together, they keepe time and consequence, the one with the other one. (188) But as I hope I have made clear, the relation between religion and ‘the Policie of Warre’, though very close in the late 1590s, was not univocal. Rather, it was plural and at times even ambivalent. Such ambivalence is part of what creates the powerful dramatic structure to be found (as Scott Fraser shows in this volume) in the Folio text of Shakespeare’s play, although it is largely absent from the quarto. Romanian scholars translating Henry V at times when aggressive ideologies of war were prevalent in the Romanian society, however, did not foreground this ambivalence and instead severed the politics of war from that of religion.


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Protopopescu’s translation Henry V was first translated into Romanian at the onset of World War II (in 1939–40). In 1939, Romania declared its neutral position and in autumn 1940, after the loss of a third of the country’s territory and the establishment of a military dictatorship, it supported the Berlin–Rome axis. At the time when the play was translated, the neutral, ‘pacificist’ stance that relied upon the agreements of the League of Nations and the network of alliances with Western powers was increasingly difficult to defend. As the German army recorded stunning victories and support from England and France looked unlikely, right-wing forces that favoured an alliance with Hitler were gaining more and more ground. A prominent right-wing weekly, Curentul, welcomed the war that Germany had started, pointing to the ‘healthy’ economic growth that it had involved. The pro-war argument further indicated that some type of ‘docile militarism’ could benefit Romania, too, as this would put an end to the anarchically democratic state.13 War was first deemed an inevitability, later a necessity.14 It was also looked upon as an opportunity for an ‘underdog’ like Romania to turn the tables on the patronising and excessively secularised West, and to embark upon a policy that would enable the country to grow out of her inferiority complex (Curentul, 28 February–1 March 1940). Influential dailies such as Curentul, and monthlies such as Gindirea, the major journal of the religious conservative and nationalist intellectuals, gradually stepped up their attacks on the defenders of neutrality, charging them with quixotic idealism. The editor-in-chief of Curentul, Pamfil Seicaru, argued that ‘the bankrupt Western democratic system’ admired by pacifists was no longer worth defending.15 Crainic, the leading figure of the Gindirea group, eventually accused the pacifist government of cowardice and servile subjection to England and France and held them responsible for the large territorial losses Romania incurred in the summer of 1940.16 It is against this political background that Dragos Protopopescu, a distinguished Shakespearean scholar of right-wing convictions (who often wrote essays for Gindirea), published his translation of Henry V in 1940. His choice of the history play was a political gesture, riddled with the contradictions that plagued both the Romanian politics of the time and the translator himself. Translating a play that was seen as glorifying an English king,17 Protopopescu signalled his distance from and even resistance to the pro-Italian and implicitly pro-German policy of the right-wing movement he himself belonged to.18 At the same time, his vision of Henry tallied with the image of the strong man of action that

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journals such as Curentul or Gindirea extolled, taking Mussolini as their model.19 Protopopescu’s translation employs lively, modern Romanian language, keying it to topical issues of his time to appeal to the militarism of the 1940s Romanian audience. Comparing this translation with a later one, prepared in the socialist 1950s by Ion Vinea, one is struck by the clarity, directness and force of Protopopescu’s version of Henry’s war speeches. The lively, spirited Romanian language he employs makes Henry a most charismatic general and renders the famous Agincourt speech to the soldiers particularly bracing. Unlike Vinea’s translation, Protopopescu’s version does not tone down the ferocity (the Machiavellian terribilit`a) of Henry’s speeches to his own soldiers or to the citizens of Harfleur. Equally powerful is the king’s description of war in 1.2. The horrors of war are insisted upon, yet the swift and powerful rhythm of Henry’s speeches, in a modern and rousing Romanian, suggests that an energetic prince like him will take them within his stride. Protopopescu translates Henry’s order to kill all the prisoners in a brisk and businesslike language. The result is that there is a sense of inevitability about the order, which brings to mind the pro-war arguments bandied around in the right-wing press of the 1939–40 period. At the same time, however, Fluellen’s inadvertent mockery of the king, comparing him with Alexander the pig, comes out very clearly and is funny. Unlike Vinea’s later translation, this version adds great force to the low-life scenes and indirectly to the sceptical countercurrent of the play. Protopopescu’s translation, however, consistently compresses and at times even omits the religious dimension of the play. It is as if he could not accept the coexistence of religious and politically pragmatic justifications for war. His translation insists upon a highly secularised monarch. The mythical, religious dimension of the king as the instrument of God is played down, with the translation sometimes obscuring or even omitting biblical references. A most striking example would be Henry’s self-definition in 1.2.241–3: ‘We are no tyrant, but a Christian king / Unto whose grace our passion is as subject / As is our wretches fettered in our prisons’. Protopopescu replaces the Romanian equivalent for ‘Christian’ with ‘fully mature / responsible’ (un rege in toata firea). Vinea, by contrast, overdoes it, using prea-cres¸ tin (‘most Christian’, the meaning of which in Romanian comes very close to the English meaning of ‘pious, godly’). Similarly, while Protopopescu suppresses the religious overtones of the line, leaving out the word ‘grace’ and insisting upon Henry’s self-mastery, Vinea uses the Romanian word har for ‘grace’ (Ce-n harul sau isi stapineste


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minia – ‘who blessed with grace controls his anger’) and emphasises the biblical rather than the secular aspect of the king’s authority. Later, when Henry qualifies the cause of the war against France as ‘My rightful hand in a well-hallowed cause’ (1.2.293), Protopopescu translates ‘wellhallowed’ with ‘just’ (cauza dreapta), dropping all hints of a religious legitimacy. As can be expected, Vinea’s translation – in slujba unei sfinte pricini (‘in the service of a holy cause’) – underscores the religious sanction of the war. For ‘well-hallowed’ he uses the adjective sfinta (‘holy, sacred’) in what is in Romanian an inverted, rhetorically emphatic word order, while ‘cause’ is rendered by an archaism – pricina. Protopopescu tones down God’s contribution to the victory at Agincourt; he renders Henry’s line ‘Prais`ed be God, and not our strength’ (4.7.85) as Atuncea slava Domnului – / Si noua mai putin (‘Praise to God and us, but less to us’), giving Henry and his men some of the credit as well. Later, he translates the line ‘O God, thy arm was here’ (4.8.106) with Ah Doamne, bratul tau a fost cu noi (‘Oh God, your arm was with us’), suggesting that God’s arm was with Henry and his soldiers, and not that the victory was entirely the result of the action of God’s arm. His translation of the next line, ‘And not to us, but to thy arm alone / Ascribe we all’, is semantically correct. However, its rather compressed form (Marire numai t¸ie t¸i se cuvine – ‘You alone should be glorified’) lacks Shakespeare’s emphatic syntactical and stylistic construction opposing ‘us’ to God (‘not to us, but to thy arm’), which reduces the rhetorical impact of the line. Throughout, Protopopescu’s translation tends to lend a more secular tone to the perception of Henry’s war and to dissociate politics from religion. Protopopescu made his translation at a time when the very reverse was taking place in Romania. Articles published in Gindirea in this period promoted a ‘religious nationalism’ based on ‘an organic unity’ between politics and the church, with the nation and the Orthodox religion being constitutive of each other.20 The influential priest Dumitru Staniloaie was critical of ‘the hedonist, utilitarian West’, whose excessive secularisation of its social and political life had begun, he believed, as early as the Renaissance.21 In Romanian society, Staniloaie thought, the temporal and the sacred were not separate.22 Needless to add, the religious, mystic approach to politics was tied up with an extremely undemocratic vision of the political structure, involving the abandonment of democratic institutions such as parliament and political parties. The monarchy, understood in feudal and religious terms, was the only institution that this radically traditional trend accepted. The notion of the divine right of the monarch was resurrected in the pages of Gindirea. The

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king was described as God’s anointed king, as well as the father, priest and leader of his people, and he was supposed to continue both the Orthodox Byzantine tradition of the basilei and the local Romanian one of the voievozi.23 By opting for a more secularised view of politics, Protopopescu was in fact rejecting this political discourse. In a covert way, he was veering in the opposite direction and was warning against the dangers of the introduction of a religiously inflected brand of fascism. Protopopescu had signalled his position in favour of the English democratic system in an earlier essay on Gladstone published in 1939. It is my belief that the understatement of Henry’s mythic, almost messianic role in the Romanian translation must have been designed to preclude misappropriations of Shakespeare by right-wing ideologies. Protopopescu must have been aware that Staniloaie, Crainic and their followers, who dissociated themselves from the Western ‘materialist understanding of history’, opting for an Orthodox ‘spiritual’ perception of history instead,24 would, ironically, have agreed with the religious overtones and the providential views of history set forth by some of Shakespeare’s characters. At the same time, however, Protopopescu’s translation echoed the call for ‘the strong man’ of the militarist 1940 and incorporated the right-wing discourse of the authoritarian, ruthless but efficient prince and general.

Vinea’s translation Ion Vinea, the author of the socialist translation of Henry V written at the height of the Cold War and published in 1956, was a radical avant-garde poet, and an editor of left-wing socialist journals. Given his former literary and political views, Vinea’s emphasis on the religious aspects of the play may look rather surprising. His carefully wrought, rather antiquated language abounds not only in archaisms but also in old Romanian biblical and liturgical phrases, which increases the temporal distance between the audience and the text. The pace is slowed down and the beautiful, dignified language can sound rather cumbersome on the stage. The battle-scenes do not have the crispness and directness of the first translation. Henry’s order to kill the prisoners comes out rather muddled and can easily be ignored, while Fluellen’s unconscious mockery of the king does not come across very well. As I have argued above, emphasis is placed less on the military or even political aspects and more on the providential dimension of the play. If Protopopescu limits God’s contribution to the victory, Vinea extends it. If in the first translation the importance of divine grace is understated, the second foregrounds it


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and assimilates the Protestant notion of grace to the Orthodox one. To give just one example, Vinea, unlike Protopopescu, underscores the idea of grace in his translation of Henry’s speech, uttered after discovering the plot hatched against him: ‘We doubt not of a fair and lucky war, / Since God so graciously hath brought to light / This dangerous treason . . . ’ (2.2.181–3; my emphasis). Vinea uses superlatives of archaic resonance to convey the idea of a most merciful God: ‘Preasfintul in marea-i lui mila, a scos la lumina, tradarea’ (‘The Most Holy one in His bounteous grace/pity has brought to light the treason’). The idea of election that the Shakespearean text indirectly refers to (the providential hero invested with God’s grace) is lost in the Romanian version and replaced by the Orthodox insistence on God’s holiness and on his infinite mercy and generosity. The shift in emphasis from war to religion, from martial to irenic positions, which Vinea introduced in his translation is most astounding in the context of the reception of Shakespeare in (post-)Stalinist Romania. In the ideological Cold War of the fifties and sixties, Shakespeare was employed as a discursive weapon against ‘bourgeois Western ideologies’. An ideologically correct reading of Shakespeare needed to point to the dramatist’s topicality and relevance to the present, emphasising ‘the capacity of his plays to mobilize the masses against tyrannies of all kinds’.25 In their insightful book on socialist readings of Shakespeare, Alexander Shurbanov and Boika Sokolova point out that while class struggle and regicide were all positively valorised in this period, so was a Machiavellian approach to politics.26 They observe that doctrinaire Shakespeare criticism would generally disregard moral principles and justify political violence when ‘done for the common good’ (pp. 146–7). A ruthlessly pragmatic Henry, like the one projected in Protopopescu’s translation (which was now blacklisted and no longer available) would, ironically, have met the ideological demands of the 1950s quite well. Octavian Gheorghiu, for instance, had no objection to Henry’s war against France since Henry had a ‘high sense of responsibility for his people’ and had ‘always had the interests of the people at heart’ (Gheorghiu, 177). Other ‘wars of aggression’, however, such as the Korean one led by the USA, were invariably the object of criticism in socialist propaganda. In the early 1960s, another critic, Mihnea Gheorghiu, was using similar ideological arguments to come to the opposite conclusion regarding Henry. Questioning the play’s overt insistence on the legitimacy of the war against France as well as the arguments that Canterbury and Ely adduce in favour of a ‘most wanton bloodshed’, he identifies one of the

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French prisoners taken at Agincourt, Charles D’Orleans, as the author of ‘a wonderful Ballad about Peace’. The ballad bewails the English king’s tyranny and exhorts his people to fight for peace.27 In a footnote, Mihnea Gheorghiu calls Henry ‘an aggressor’ and compares him with General Eisenhower (208). The topicality of the comparison thus places the reading at the heart of the ideological and rhetorical conflicts of the Cold War. Yet Mihnea Gheorghiu also conforms to the ideological requirements of the age by disregarding the importance of religion in the play. Henry V is Shakespeare’s embodiment of the humanists’ ideal of homo faber fortunae – a man who fashions his own fate and does not depend upon Providence. His victory at Agincourt is attributed solely to the courage of the yeomen represented in the play by Williams and Bates and to the emerging sense of national unity. There is no room whatever for the intervention of Providence. Mihnea Gheorghiu even advances the idea that ‘Shakespeare rejects the notion of the monarch’s divine right and separates authority from transcendental solutions’ (217). The Shakespeare accepted and disseminated in the fifties was a radically secularised humanist who espoused ‘materialistic theories’.28 His humanism was defined in contradistinction to the reactionary baroque – ‘a period when the scientific understanding of the world registered a regression, a time of mysticism and obscurantism’ (Vianu, 18). Tudor Vianu, a widely acknowledged scholar who was forced to toe the ideological line, distanced himself from ‘Western criticism that tended to present the great poet as a baroque writer’. Equally unacceptable was ‘the ideological meaning to be derived from associating Shakespeare with the religious and feudal revival that took place in this period’ (12). Shakespeare squarely belongs to the secular, humanist and anti-feudal Renaissance. Given the tenor of Shakespeare reception in the fifties, Vinea’s version of a pious Henry must have amounted to a daring political move. The foregrounding of the pacifist values of the Orthodox Church in his translation was as oppositional a gesture in the 1950s of the Cold War as Protopopescu’s de-emphasising of the religious dimension had been in the nationalist 1940. To conclude, the inevitable embedding of the two Romanian translations in the local political and ideological context of their production requires a disjuncture between, on the one hand, the mythic and religious, and on the other hand the pragmatic, Machiavellian visions of war that coexist in tension in Shakespeare’s play. The emphasis on one dimension over the other in the two translations signalled the


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translators’ covert political commitment against the given dominant discourse on war and politics. The reader of the respective translations may not have been fully aware of the translators’ covert political views, yet by reading Shakespeare in translation he was induced to participate in the political debates around two traumatic moments in Romanian history.

Notes 1. See the contributions to the present volume by David Carnegie, R. Scott Fraser, Diana Henderson and Ros King. 2. Joel Altman, ‘Vile Participation: The Amplification of Violence in the Theater of Henry V,’ Shakespeare Quarterly 42. 1 (Spring 1991), 13. 3. Printed in Lancelot Andrewes, Ninety-Five Sermons (London, 1626), R3, STC-624. I am indebted to Professor James Shapiro for the bibliographical reference to the sermon. 4. Stephen Gosson, The Trumpet of War (London, 1598), 27, 37. 5. Quoted in Jorgensen, 171. 6. See Jorgensen, 171–2. 7. Alan Sinfield, Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 114–17. 8. King, pp. 26–7, 28 above. 9. Jorgensen, 150. 10. Alexandra Walsham, ‘ ‘‘A Very Deborah’’? The Myth of Elizabeth as a Providential Monarch,’ in The Myth of Elizabeth, ed. Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 143–68; and Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman’s introduction to their volume, 5. 11. Andrew Gurr (ed.), The New Cambridge Shakespeare: Henry V (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, 1990), 1.2.81n. 12. Holinshed describes the scene as follows: ‘When the Frenchmen were clearlie overcome, and those that were left alive fled and gone, so that the English men heard no more noise of them, king Edward came downe from the hill (on the which he stood all that day with his helmet still on his head) and going to the prince, imbraced him in his armes, and kissed him.’ Cited Gurr, 1.2.81n. 13. I. Ghibanescu, ‘Dezvoltarea Romaniei Moderne,’ Curentul Magazin 36 (December 1939), 7. 14. Compare Vasile Bancila, ‘Omul si razboiul,’ Gindirea 9 (November 1938), 449–52; 449, and Toma Vladescu, ‘Estetica razboiului,’ Curentul Magazin 36 (December, 1939), 5. 15. Pamfil Seicaru, in Curentul, 21.02.1940. 16. Nichifor Crainic, ‘Scurta recapitulare,’ Gindirea 7 (September 1940), 465. 17. Commenting on the performance of Henry IV at the national theatre in 1936, one critic described Henry V as ‘the wisest and noblest of all English kings’. V. Timus, ‘Henry IV la Teatrul National,’ Rampa 5310 (25.09.1936).

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18. Dan Grigorescu, ‘Introducere,’ Dragos Protopopescu, Fenomenul englez (Bucures¸ti: Editura Grai si Suflet, Cultura Nationala, 1996), 31–2. Grigorescu insists on Protopopescu’s allegiance to the Allied Forces. Protopopescu had previously translated Shaw’s Heartbreak House, successfully staged at the National Theatre in the 1939 season, and he delivered public talks on British literature throughout the war years. 19. An important article entitled ‘Man and War’ in the journal Gindirea insisted on the significance of the ‘strong man’ who can liberate ordinary, cowardly and weak people from the terror of their fears (Bancila, 449). The daily Curentul increasingly praised Mussolini as the most lucid, able leader of the times, a disciplinarian and an authoritarian at the same time. Pamfil Seicaru reiterated that the ‘true politician’, a combination of Machiavellian cunning, lucidity and prophetic vision, is to be identified in Mussolini, ‘a true magician of politics’. For a full eulogy of Mussolini see Curentul, 7.02.1940. 20. Nichifor Crainic, ‘Spirit autohton,’ Gindirea 4 (April 1938), 164–70; Ilariu Dobridor, ‘Mistica nationala,’ Gindirea 6 (June 1940), 663–6; Pamfil Vizirescu, ‘Ortodoxie si etnocratie,’ Gindirea 9 (October 1938), 482–90. 21. Dumitru Staniloaie, ‘Ortodoxia, modul spiritualitatii romanesti,’ Gindirea 6 (June 1940), 423–5; 424. 22. Prominent intellectuals, such as Emil Cioran and Mircea Eliade, felt attracted by the promise of a revolutionary, almost millenarian change that a strong ‘new man’, another prophetic figure like Joachim of Fiore, could hold out. See Mircea Eliade, ‘Glosse pentru Omul Nou,’ Convorbiri Literare (Bucures¸ti, 1935). 23. Florea Zaborovschi, ‘Monarhia romaneasca in perspectiva destinului romanesc,’ Gindirea 6 (June 1940), 444–5. 24. Petre Ionescu, ‘Regele si viitorul,’ Gindirea 6 (June 1940), 428–32; 432. 25. Octavian Gheorghiu, Istoria teatrului universal (Bucures¸ti: Tipografia Ministerului Invatamintului, 1957), 196. 26. Alexander Shurbanov and Boika Sokolova, Painting Shakespeare Red: An East European Appropriation (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001), 152–3. 27. Mihnea Gheorghiu, Scene din viat¸a lui Shakespeare (Bucures¸ti: Editura tineretului, 1958), 210. 28. Tudor Vianu, ‘Shakespeare si antropologia Renasterii,’ Teatrul 1 (1956), 12–17.

11 Shakespeare’s Coriolanus as Staged in Heiner M¨ uller’s Germania 3 Ruth Freifrau von Ledebur

Was wolln sie? Korn nach ihrer eignen Taxe. ¨ Sie sagen, es sei da im Uberfluß. (Heiner M¨ uller, Germania 3)1 CAIUS MARTIUS: What’s their seeking? MENENIUS: For corn at their own rates, whereof they say The city is well stored. (William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, 1.1.186–8) The voices of two actors, reciting some lines from the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, come from off-stage as if from a rehearsalroom. It is the seventh of nine scenes from Heiner M¨ uller’s last play, Germania 3: Gespenster am Toten Mann, and the voices are transmitted via a loudspeaker into the director’s office in the famous Berliner Ensemble theatre. As with all the other scenes of this play, this is given its own title: ‘Maßnahme 1956’ (Measurement 1956). The theme of war, which is a central issue of M¨ uller’s play, is highlighted in this rehearsal of a scene from Coriolanus.

The genesis of M¨ uller’s Germania 3 M¨ uller had been working on Germania 3 right up to his death on 30 December 1995. As with most of his other plays, it developed over a number of years. Probably started in 1987, but set aside for other projects, it was taken up again after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. This decisive caesura in German politics brought about the end of the East German state and with it, for M¨ uller as for other East German 138

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intellectuals, the end of the utopia of a socialist society. In 1992 M¨ uller returned again to the Germania 3 project.2 The title of the play evokes various associations. It echoes the collage title of M¨ uller’s earlier play Germania Tod in Berlin (1971), which characteristically consists of a string of scenes without coherent plot or time-sequence. Both Germania plays present fragments of German history, mainly but not exclusively from the twentieth century, focusing on war, aggression and the conflict with the Soviet Union. They are typical examples of M¨ uller’s dramaturgical archaeology and his ‘dialogue with the dead’.3 The number ‘3’ of the title suggests a trilogy, of which the play Wolokolamsker Chaussee (1984–8) might be regarded as the second part, while the subtitle Gespenster am Toten Mann (Ghosts at the Dead Man) evokes the name of a hill, Toter Mann or L’homme mort, on the World War I battlefield near Verdun. The work thus brings to mind the atrocities of war, and its structure is haunted by the ghosts of other texts.4 While working on Germania 3, M¨ uller was actively involved in practical theatrical work at the Berliner Ensemble (BE), which supplies the setting of Scene 7, ‘Maßnahme 1956’. After 1989, this theatre, like all others in East Germany, underwent drastic changes concerning both programming and management. M¨ uller was appointed artistic director in 1991 and it was then suggested that the repertoire should concentrate on the plays of three dramatists: M¨ uller himself, Brecht, and Shakespeare. To commemorate the centenary of Brecht’s birth in 1996, M¨ uller had planned to stage Brecht’s ‘Lehrst¨ uck’ (didactic play) Die Maßnahme (The Measurement), rather than the well-known Arturo Ui, but M¨ uller’s death (in December 1995) intervened. It seems to be in accordance with these plans that he called the crucial Scene 7 of his new play ‘Maßnahme 1956’ – 1956 being the year of Brecht’s death.5 M¨ uller had also intended to produce and direct Germania 3 at the BE in 1996, and he handed a revised play-script over to a friend in the late autumn of 1995. The first (posthumous) production of Germania 3 opened instead at the Bochumer Schauspielhaus on 24 May 1996, directed by Leander Haußmann. It was followed by the BE production under Martin Wuttke a few weeks later on 16 June 1996.6 Taking into account the final stages of M¨ uller’s work on his last play, and realising how intricately it is bound up with his work for the BE, it seems justified to regard ‘Maßnahme 1956’ as the play’s central scene. While the location of this scene, the famous Theater am Schiffbauerdamm of the BE, evokes the name of Heiner M¨ uller’s mentor Bertolt Brecht, the Shakespearean text quoted in the scene sparks off another cluster of associations relating not only to Brecht’s life-long


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dealings with Shakespeare and with Coriolanus in particular, but also to M¨ uller’s repeated attempts to translate, adapt and incorporate Shakespeare’s work into his own plays. Both Brecht and Shakespeare have recently been called M¨ uller’s ‘Dichterv¨ater’ (poet-fathers) and their works uller’s text in Gerloom large as hypotexts in M¨ uller’s own writing.7 M¨ mania 3 refers not only to the German stage history of Shakespeare’s Roman play, but also to aspects of Brecht’s life and work. There are complex interactions between the various constituents of this collage.

M¨ uller and Shakespeare Throughout his career as a dramatist, M¨ uller was preoccupied with Shakespeare’s works and with the conventions of his theatre. In his 1988 lecture, ‘Shakespeare eine Differenz’, at the conference of the German Shakespeare Society in Weimar, he explored the dialectics between Shakespeare’s impact on the theatre through the ages and the problems of modern dramatists in coming to terms with that overpowering influence: ‘Shakespeare ist ein Spiegel der Zeiten, unsre Hoffnung eine Welt, die er nicht mehr reflektiert. Wir sind bei uns nicht angekommen, solange Shakespeare unsere St¨ ucke schreibt.’ (‘Shakespeare is a mirror of all ages, our hopes a world that he does not reflect. We have not yet found ourselves as long as Shakespeare writes our plays.’)8 M¨ uller’s first encounter with Shakespeare was a comparatively straight translation of As You Like It (1968–9).9 In his later dealings with Shakespeare’s tragedies, M¨ uller tried out various paradigms, which in a kind of archaeological process aimed at laying bare what he regarded as the ‘essence’ of the play. Thus he combines scenes that are comparatively close to the original, albeit translated using modern idioms, with new scenes of his own making that still adhere to the Shakespearean storyline. This type of adaptation, as in his Macbeth – nach Shakespeare (1972),10 establishes an interaction between the Elizabethan text and the modern text, creating what M¨ uller terms ‘die Differenz’. A variation on this model can be found in Anatomie Titus Fall of Rome (1992–4), in which ‘comments’ on the action, the characters or other matters are interwoven with the play’s dialogue.11 Hamletmaschine (1977), on the other hand, focuses on the potential that Shakespeare’s tragedy has accrued throughout the history of its reception, combining it with various other literary paradigms (including Artaud, T. S. Eliot, Benjamin, Sophocles, and Kafka), and sums up M¨ uller’s life-long preoccupation with Hamlet: ‘Hamlet has been an obsession for me almost since I began to read.’12 M¨ uller also incorporated fragments from Shakespearean texts into his

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own dialogues, creating a network of intertextuality.13 His famous Berlin production of 1989–90, combining Hamletmaschine with a production of his own translation of Hamlet, is perhaps the climax of his career as the most prominent dramatist, next to Brecht, on the German stage of the twentieth century. Coinciding with the ‘peaceful revolution’ in East Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has also been regarded as the swansong of the East German theatre.14 This verdict indicates that throughout his career in East Germany, M¨ uller’s attempts at relocating Shakespeare’s plays within the cultural concerns of the late twentieth century are also part of his controversial attitude towards the Marxist concept of ‘Erbeaneignung’ (claiming the cultural heritage) and were, as such, subject to the criticism of the official ‘Kulturpolitik’, which often prevented or delayed the staging of M¨ uller’s plays in East Germany.15

Coriolanus on the German stage Coriolanus, the Shakespeare play on which M¨ uller’s ‘Maßnahme 1956’ focuses, has its own distinctive critical and theatrical history in Germany.16 There were a few productions in the late eighteenth century, but it had never been as popular as Julius Caesar – or as Hamlet, the unrivalled favourite of directors, actors and audiences alike. In the canonised Romantic Shakespeare-translation, known under the double name Schlegel/Tieck, Ludwig Tieck’s daughter Dorothea translated the less popular plays: Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus and Cymbeline.17 In accordance with a general tendency towards hero worship in German society and politics during that period, the Coriolanus of the nineteenth century, both in the theatre and in literary criticism, was a noble hero, betrayed by an ignorant Roman mob. The picture changed completely in the early twentieth century. The play came to prominence with a most spectacular production in 1925 at the Lessing-Theater in Berlin.18 The experimental director of this production, Erich Engel, a convinced socialist, did everything possible to prevent the idealisation of the hero, and thus of the concept of war itself, by distancing the actor playing Coriolanus – the star Fritz Kortner – from his part. Produced by Engel, together with Brecht, who was later to claim that this cooperation helped him to develop his theory of epic theatre, the production also fostered Brecht’s conviction of the ‘Materialwert’ of the classics and of the importance of ‘breaking down’ these plays. But with the rise of the Nazis in 1933, the stage was obliged to uphold images and dramaturgic models of unvanquished heroes and ‘leaders


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of the people’. Coriolanus accordingly rose to greater prominence – although still second to Julius Caesar. This new popularity found its expression not so much on the stage but in various ideologically biased publications. Academic critics, as well as the authors of school textbooks, did not hesitate to claim the Roman patrician as a true Germanic warrior, with some commentators, like Liselott Eckloff, regarding the ‘glories of war’ as the central issue of Shakespeare’s play. In that light, the uprising of the plebeians appeared outrageous and unlawful because it was directed against the ‘natural leadership’ of Coriolanus.19 Engel staged Coriolanus again in 1937, but apparently managed to avoid the worst demands of the Nazi propaganda machine and refrained from vilifying the Roman plebeians. Brecht took up his work on the play again in 1952–3 when Hitler’s rise and fall were still fresh in people’s minds. Brecht’s concept was, of course, diametrically opposed to the hero worship and glorification of war of some of the Nazi interpretations. He focused on the rights and interests of the common people, planning to rewrite the parts of the plebeians. Despite his claims concerning the importance of the play, however, he soon abandoned work on it, although an assessment of the first scene survives, written as a dialogue between himself and his assistants, under the title ‘Studium des ersten Auftritts in Shakespeares Coriolan’.20 This came to be regarded as a prime text of Brecht’s dramaturgy, important not only to his numerous assistants, but to a whole generation of theatre directors in the sixties and seventies, who revolutionised the staging of Shakespeare’s histories. Brecht’s adaptation was completed by his two disciples Manfred Wekwerth and Joachim Tenschert for the BE in 1964, the Shakespeare quatercentenary. The production also toured Britain, where Peter Brook was deeply impressed and was said to have recognised Brecht’s spirit in it.21 It is unclear why Brecht abandoned his plan to stage the play.22 Some commentators have attributed this to various production difficulties, others suspect political considerations, suggesting that audiences might have drawn parallels between the rebellion of the Roman citizens and the unrest of populations in some countries of the Soviet Block, including East Germany.23 It is the latter and more spectacular issue that Nobel Prize Laureate G¨ unter Grass took up in his play, Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand24 (The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising). Written in the 1960s, Grass’s play dramatises Brecht’s attempts at adapting and staging Shakespeare’s Coriolanus at the BE. For Grass, too, the plebeians and the justification of their rebellion are decisive in his reworking of Shakespeare’s plot. Grass

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places the rehearsals in the context of the strikes of the Berlin workers in the summer of 1953, which were ruthlessly suppressed by the East German government with the help of the Soviet army. Grass’s rehearsal of Coriolanus focuses on the dialogues between the ‘Chef’ (Brecht), his actors and assistants, and some workers who, desperately but in vain, try to win Brecht’s support for the German workers’ rebellion. The dialogue represents a discourse on the role and responsibility of the intellectual, and of the theatre, in times of political upheaval. In his play, Grass portrays Brecht as the indecisive intellectual who is torn between his aesthetic principles and his political convictions. When the workers, disappointed and enraged, finally leave the theatre, Brecht resigns. The text insinuates that with his inability to act, Brecht had lost his dramatic creative faculties and taken refuge in writing mere poetry.

M¨ uller’s scene ‘Maßnahme 1956’ Although M¨ uller does not quote from Grass’s play, he makes use of the same raison d’ˆetre: the staging of Brecht’s version of Coriolanus at the BE. Unlike the other scenes of Germania 3, the settings of which range from a battlefield in World War II to the Berlin Wall, via Stalingrad, the Kremlin and other large, often phantasmagoric spaces, here the scenery is restricted to one neatly defined and recognisable room, the director’s office in the BE. As the first production had been planned for the BE, putting part of that same theatre-building on the main stage as a ‘setting’ has the startling effect of doubling or mirroring the ‘real’ world of the theatre. While some of the other scenes consist solely of long amorphous monologues, ‘Maßnahme 1956’ is constructed like a miniature drama with lively dialogue, consecutive action and a recognisable time-sequence, the nature of a ‘Lehrst¨ uck’ being indicated already by the title. It attains the status of a ‘play-within-a-play’, demonstrating what drama, theatre, acting and directing a play are all about. As the crucial Coriolanus rehearsal is not put on stage to be ‘watched’ but only to be ‘listened to’ as the actors’ and directors’ voices are transmitted over the loudspeaker, this scene privileges the auditory over the visual. Thus, the scene further diverges from M¨ uller’s dramaturgic route in his late plays, which favoured space, landscapes and signs replacing the word with the image.25 Apart from these obvious divergences, ‘Maßnahme 1956’ is linked to the rest of the play by a subtle network of other texts. One such link is established on the thematic level by the frustration and cynicism which arise from the perversion of socialism in the German Democratic


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Republic (GDR) and in the Soviet Union. The play opens with a reference to the Berlin Wall, ‘Das Mausoleum des deutschen Sozialismus’ (the tomb of German socialism), which might be regarded as the motto for the whole play. The Communist Ernst Th¨almann, who was murdered in Buchenwald concentration camp, Stalin, and Hitler are some of the many ghosts or ‘Untoten’ (undead) who populate the play, illustrating its subtitle Gespenster am Toten Mann. The year in which Scene 7 is set, 1956, is resonant with cruelties and lost hopes. It is the year of the 20th Party Congress, where Khrushchev overthrew the cult of Stalin. It is also the year the Soviet Army, with the help of the Hungarian Secret Police, quelled the people’s uprising in Hungary. These historical resonances are layered with numerous long quotations from German classical literature, concerning hero worship, heroic deaths and feudal loyalty, which provide an almost cynical commentary on the killing, barbarism, suicide, rape and cannibalism which pervade M¨ uller’s play. But the most coherent ties among the heterogeneous scenes are created by the numerous references to and quotations from Shakespeare. In his monumental soliloquy, the character of Stalin compares his enemy, Trotski, to Banquo, evoking the Banquet Scene from Macbeth in the line ‘nothing but a chair / Who is afraid of an empty chair?’26 Stalin embodies Macbeth’s insatiable hunger for power, mixed with subconscious fear, and takes on the image of the butcher wading through blood. The seventh scene, ‘Maßnahme 1956’, contains three female characters, the three ‘Brecht Widows’: Helene Weigel (the eldest and, as the director of the BE, the most famous of the three), Elisabeth Hauptmann and Isot Kilian (two of Brecht’s more prominent assistants – and mistresses). With their leitmotif ‘Wann kommen wir drei uns wieder entgegen’ (When shall we three meet again), they recall the witches of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.27 ‘Maßnahme 1956’ is structured by its two localities: Helene Weigel’s office and the rehearsal stage. The action changes quickly from one to the other and back, as smoothly as a loudspeaker can be switched on or off. The dialogue, mostly in blank verse, consists of three layers. The first relates to the first locality and is constituted by the exchanges between the three Brecht widows and some other characters who join them in Weigel’s office. The second and third layers are associated with the rehearsal stage. The second contains the discussions of the two directors, Peter Palitzsch and Manfred Wekwerth. The third is constituted by extracts from Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, recited by several actors. These three layers are constantly intermingled as the rehearsal is interrupted by the comments of the directors and by the comments on these comments

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by the women listening-in on the rehearsal via the office loudspeaker. The set-up is reminiscent of the Mousetrap Scene in Hamlet with its interactions between the text of the main action and the text of the ‘Murder of Gonzago’ play. M¨ uller’s intertextual strategies also ironically evoke other political and literary topics, and recall former productions of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. The quick and witty exchanges of the Brecht Widows, undercut with personal bickering, illuminate various aspects of the relationship between arts, politics and ‘real life’, and touch upon the responsibilities of the theatre towards society – in short, they deal with the major issues of Brecht’s epic theatre. At the same time, their exchange echoes Grass’s play about Brecht’s Coriolanus rehearsals. Grass had blamed Brecht for not joining the workers in their 1953 uprising. M¨ uller takes the matter further by directly accusing Brecht of political opportunism. Instead of being on the barricades with the people, and attacking the tanks of the Soviets barehanded,28 he was, as Isot Kilian, one of the three widows puts it, ‘more clever. He tipped his cap before the tanks in fiftythree’ (‘Er hat seine M¨ utze / Gezogen vor den Panzern Dreiundf¨ unfzig’, 48). The younger woman’s moral indignation is ridiculed by Weigel’s deadpan reply: ‘He had no hat’ (‘Er hatte keinen Hut’, referring to Brecht’s habit of wearing not a hat but a proletarian cap). Weigel, in her down-to-earth manner, continues: ‘And anyway / Who are the people. The people, when asked / Will vote for Hitler’. (‘Und u ¨ berhaupt / Wer ist das Volk. Das Volk, wenn es gefragt wird / W¨ahlt Hitler.’ 48). Quite casually, in the opening lines of the scene, M¨ uller has already given the cues for Shakespeare’s Roman play: the people, their vote, and the inconsistency of the plebs. M¨ uller also individualises the three women by allowing Elisabeth Hauptmann to defend Brecht: ‘Der Tod war p¨ unktlich. / Er ist gestorben, als f¨ ur ihn die Zeit war’ (50). (‘Death was punctual. He [Brecht] died when his time had come.’) The action in Helene Weigel’s office takes an unexpected turn with the entrance of three new characters: the sculptor Fritz Cremer and two workers carrying a lead coffin. The make-believe of a ‘realistic’ dialogue, which is underlined by the change from blank verse to prose, is ironically revoked by their anachronistic appearance, which is a reminder not only of Brecht’s death but also of his horror of physical destruction.29 Cremer, a prominent artist of the GDR, had taken Brecht’s death masque and was later to create the rather inconspicuous Brecht statue in front of the BE. The action verges on the grotesque when Weigel orders one of the workmen to climb into Brecht’s coffin to ‘take measure’ – yet another punning allusion to the title of the scene.30 The workmen’s clowning


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and their jokes about death, worms, and their own work (‘Ich arbeite f¨ ur Geld. . . . Der Tod zahlt bar.’ 61), and their apparent disrespect for the high and mighty are reminiscent of the gravediggers in Hamlet and thus establish yet another link to the play which, to M¨ uller, was the most seminal from the Shakespeare canon. (M¨ uller’s Shakespeare lecture at Weimar was rounded off with his translation of the Gravediggers’ Scene.) In the Bochum as well as in the Berlin productions of 1996 the clowning was apparently acted out with a flourish.31 The entrance of a ‘burning woman’ adds a further bizarre and surrealistic note to the scene with an allusion to Ruth Berlau, who had cooperated with Brecht during his exile and who had died during a fire in a hospital in 1974. The spectre is mocked by the clowning workman and addressed as ‘the fourth witch’. As these two ‘clowns’ are the only representatives of the proletarians in this scene about a Coriolanus rehearsal, it is a further indication that M¨ uller, contrary to Brecht and Grass, is reverting to a feature of earlier Coriolanus productions on the German stage by emphasising the ambiguous nature of the common people. The second layer of dialogue is constituted by the exchanges between Palitzsch and Wekwerth, who – like the three women – combine personal matters with comments on the Shakespeare text, on Brecht’s revisions and the political tendencies of their own production. Again, M¨ uller deftly but anachronistically telescopes the stage history of the Shakespeare–Brecht Coriolanus production. Peter Palitzsch (one of the three directors of the BE in the early 1990s) serves as an anachronistic replacement of Joachim Tenschert, who had directed the 1964 production of Coriolanus together with Wekwerth. As in Brecht’s text of his ‘dialogue’ with his assistants, Wekwerth and Palitzsch discuss the presentation of the plebeians. Like Grass’s Brecht-figure, Wekwerth pleads for a theatre which keeps its distance from political topicality (‘Wir machen hier kein Zeitst¨ uck’, 51). Brecht’s ‘ghost’ looms so large in the dialogue between Wekwerth and Palitzsch that, for a while, he overshadows Shakespeare. This leads to an exceptionally long quotation (54–6) from Brecht’s play Leben des Galilei, the epic tale of the little monk who would rather live in a state of deprivation than rebel against the authorities of Church and State. This text highlights the dichotomy which is of paramount importance to the whole scene, namely the division of knowledge and power (‘Das . . . ist unsre / Trag¨ odie, die Trennung von Wissen und Macht.’ 53). When we finally hear the ‘actors’ reciting Shakespeare’s text, in the adaptation for the 1964 Berlin production, the core of this scene uller’s intentions, close about the theatre is disclosed.32 To understand M¨

Ruth Freifrau von Ledebur


attention must be paid to his choice of extracts from Coriolanus for the ‘rehearsal’. While Grass employed Menenius’s recounting of the parable of the stomach and the limbs to show how easily the people can be swayed, the three fragments M¨ uller has chosen all concentrate on the contempt Coriolanus shows for the common people. Contrary to Brecht and Grass, M¨ uller’s rehearsal scene privileges the spiteful aristocratic warrior over the plebeians whom both Brecht and Grass had invested with courage and integrity. The first fragment is the brief exchange between Menenius and Marcius about the reasons for the plebeians’ rebellion from the first scene of Shakespeare’s play.33 The text demonstrates the hero’s uncontrolled railing against the plebeians, his likening the people to ‘our musty superfluity’ in Shakespeare’s words, rendered almost liter¨ uller’s second ally by ‘unsern Uberschuß, der schimmlig wird’ (58).34 M¨ extract shows the other side of the coin. It is a brief exchange between Brutus and Sicinius, towards the end of the first scene, in which the two tribunes comment on Coriolanus’ attitude towards the common people. The question whether Coriolanus is a threat to Rome rather than to the Volsces, or whether ‘his sword’ was more important than his contempt (‘Solch eines Mannes Schwert / Ist mehr als seiner Laster Schaden wert’, 59) was one of the controversial issues of the 1964 production.35 When, with the appearance of the burning woman, the action in the director’s office turns into a burlesque travesty, the rehearsal is blended in again with the third and longest extract from Shakespeare’s play. The loudspeaker transmits Coriolanus’s long tirade against the plebeians after his banishment when, in his rage, he bans Rome from his own heart (3.3). It belongs among the best-known passages of the play, and the translation of this extract is very close to the original.36 The speech once again underscores the protagonist’s scorn of the common people and his heroic egomania; at the same time, it reveals that his love for Rome makes him vulnerable. For the actor, it offers an excellent chance to win the sympathy of the audience. M¨ uller explicitly allows such presentation: to the last line of the monologue, ‘Es gibt / Noch eine Welt woanders’ (‘There is a world elsewhere’), he adds the anxious cry ‘Oh Mutter, Mutter’ (64). This line is of course transferred from the last act where it signals his acquiescence to his mother’s entreaties to spare Rome, even though he knows it will mean his own destruction. Palitzsch and Wekwerth rule that the line be cut. Then, for the first and only time, the actor who plays Coriolanus intervenes and questions the directors’ decision: ‘Warum nicht?’ (‘Why not?’). The formalistic answer of the directors that ‘it would weaken the fable’ to have the anguished cry ‘mother’ already in the third act, is a sarcastic revocation of Brecht’s


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concept of the ‘Lehrst¨ uck’ and at the same time, an ironic inversion of M¨ uller’s explicit post-modernist contempt of any fable, parable or well-made play. M¨ uller’s cynical comment on Brecht and his disciples is incorporated in the hellish laughter with which the widows, now completely turned into witches, answer the directors’ intervention and then intone the witches’ rhyme: ‘Wann kommen wir drei uns wieder entgegen . . . ’ (‘When shall we three meet again . . . ’).37 The end of the scene, now totally unrealistic, is given to the ghostly voice of Brecht. His text is a misquotation from Brecht’s well-known poem about his tombstone and its inscription. The original lines ‘Er [Brecht] hat Vorschl¨age gemacht. Wir / Haben sie angenommen’ (‘He has made proposals. We / Have accepted them’) are turned into their opposite by simply adding one word and changing the verse structure: ‘Er / Hat Vorschl¨age gemacht. Wir haben sie / Nicht angenommen’. While the original, in the manner of the classical topos, aims at immortalising the famous Brecht dramaturgy and its effect on his pupils, M¨ uller flatly denies him such strategy. With this revocation, M¨ uller seems to be cutting himself loose from one of his two poet-fathers, while the other, Shakespeare, seems again to claim priority in the lines of Macbeth’s witches. According to the critics, the two initial productions of Germania 3 differed extensively in their overall style and the dramaturgic bent of their mise-en-sc`ene. Leander Haußmann, mingling comedy and tragedy at the Bochumer Schauspielhaus, presented a travesty of the illusionist stage, complete with powerful sound and light effects, with snow, deserted corpse-strewn battlefields, skulls and skeletons galore, mixing the Music Hall with the Cabaret. Martin Wuttke at the BE seems to have aimed at stylistic purity. On an almost bare stage, the actors recited the text, avoiding any identification of historical figures, or attempt at theatrical illusion. Both productions, however, foregrounded the central scene ‘Maßnahme 1956’, complete with the three Brecht Widows and the clowning of the workman in the coffin, thereby underlining its significance for the entire play. At the BE they perhaps overreached their ironic attempt at verisimilitude in M¨ uller’s travesty of the play-within-the-play convention. While the script only asks for the voices of the actors to be heard, here the actor playing Coriolanus actually appeared on stage wearing the original toga of the 1964 production – assuming the stature of ‘a real ghost’, as one critic put it.38 Despite the differences in their presentation of this scene, the productions underline its centricity and significance for the entire play, and thereby, in their own way, verify my arguments in this paper.

Ruth Freifrau von Ledebur


Conclusion M¨ uller, Grass and Brecht, three of the most prominent and decidedly political German writers of the twentieth century, have all turned to Shakespeare’s Coriolanus for material to elaborate their own notions about the horrors of war, about dictatorial regimes and the role of the common people under such conditions. Using Shakespeare’s text as a quarry, they bridge the gap between his age and ours. The Elizabethan play comes, as it were, to life on the modern stage. The Roman plebs wear the garb of the Marxist proletariat (Brecht) or of the Berlin workers of the 1950s (Grass), while Shakespeare’s arrogant hero lends his stance to the dramatis persona Brecht (Grass and M¨ uller). By ‘staging’ Coriolanus, they make their individual statements about war in the twentieth century, and at the same time they highlight the theatricality of doing so. Brecht’s conviction that his ‘translation’ of Shakespeare would transmit his own political message on the stage is ironically questioned by Grass, and refuted by M¨ uller. And yet M¨ uller’s obsession with Brecht and Shakespeare, which permeates Germania 3, achieves a heavily loaded intertextual interaction between the other two dramatists, which reinforces the political implications of his own play. For M¨ uller, Coriolanus reflects the ferocious portrayal of the destructiveness of the twentieth century that has been at the heart of his own theatrical and political endeavours.

Notes 1. Heiner M¨ uller, Germania 3. Gespenster am Toten Mann (K¨ oln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1996), 57. 2. Cf. Rainer E. Schmitt, Geschichte und Mythisierung: Zu Heiner M¨ullers Deutschland-Dramatik (Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 1999), 226–8. 3. Cf. Paul Gerhard Klussmann and Heinrich Mohr (eds), Spiel und Spiegelungen von Schrecken und Tod: Zum Werk von Heiner M¨uller, Jahrbuch zur Literatur in der DDR, Bd.7 (Bonn: Bouvier, 1990); Moray McGowan, ‘Geschichtsbild und dramatische Form bei Heiner M¨ uller,’ in John L. Flood (ed.), Kurz bevor der Vorhang fiel: Zum Theater der DDR (Amsterdam, Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1990), 65–79. 4. Cf. Hendrik Werner, Im Namen des Verrats. Heiner M¨ullers Ged¨achtnis der Texte (W¨ urzburg: K¨ onigshausen und Neumann, 2001), 198–200. 5. Cf. Holger Teschke, ‘Heiner M¨ uller zum Beispiel,’ Sonderheft Theater der Zeit (1996), 132–5. 6. There have been various speculations as to which theatre M¨ uller had had in mind for the first staging of his play. Haußmann claims that M¨ uller had originally asked him to produce it at Bochum where several other of M¨ uller’s plays


7. 8. 9. 10. 11.





16. 17.

18. 19.

Shakespeare and War had seen their first night. See the interview with Haußmann and Wuttke, ‘M¨ ullers Rache,’ Spiegel Extra 3 (1996), 4–8. Cf. Werner, Im Namen des Verrats, 8. Heiner M¨ uller, ‘Shakespeare eine Differenz,’ Shakespeare Jahrbuch (Weimar) 125 (1989), 20–8. All translations from M¨ uller’s texts are mine. Cf. Roland Petersohn, Heiner M¨ullers Shakespeare-Rezeption (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1999), 32. See Ruby Cohn’s comments in Modern Shakespeare Offshoots (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 87–91. Cf. Marga Munkelt, ‘Titus Andronicus: Metamorphoses of a Text in Production,’ in Shakespeare: Text, Language, Criticism, eds Bernhard Fabian and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador (Z¨ urich and New York: Olms-Weidmann, 1987), 212–34. Munkelt compares M¨ uller’s adaptation with John Barton’s 1981 Stratford production. Cf. Heiner M¨ uller, ‘Like Sleeping with Shakespeare’, in Redefining Shakespeare: Literary Theory and Theater Practice in the German Democratic Republic, eds J. Lawrence Guntner and Andrew M. MacLean (Newark and London: University of Delaware Press and Associated University Presses, 1998), 183–95; 189. Cf. Peter von Becker, ‘Collaboratorium zweier Dichter und Epochen. Heiner M¨ ullers Shakespeare Factory,’ Neue Rundschau 101, H.4 (1990), 53–60; Bernhard Greiner, ‘Explosion einer Erinnerung in einer abgestorbenen dramatischen Struktur: Heiner M¨ ullers Shakespeare Factory,’ Shakespeare-Jahrbuch (West), (1989), 88–112. Cf. Maik Hamburger, ‘Hamlet at World’s End: Heiner M¨ uller’s Production in East Berlin,’ in Shakespeare and Cultural Tradition, eds Tetsui Kishi, Roger Pringle, Stanley Wells (Newark, London, Toronto: University of Delaware Press/Associated University Presses, 1994), 280–4, and ‘Hamlet im Zeitriß: Heiner M¨ ullers Inszenierung in Berlin 1989/1990,’ in Wilhelm Hortmann, Shakespeare und das deutsche Theater im XX. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Henschel, 2001), 455–60. Cf. Arigo Subiotto, ‘Power and ‘‘konstruktiver Defaitismus’’. Literary Strategies in the Work of Heiner M¨ uller,’ in Geist und Macht: Writers and the State in the GDR, eds Axel Goodbody and Dennis Tate (Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1992), 184–92. Cf. Simon Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, volume 1, 1586–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). The inexpensive Reclam editions are based on the Schlegel/Tieck-translations. Brecht used Dorothea Tieck’s translation in this edition, cf. Manfred Wekwerth, Notate u¨ ber die Arbeit des Berliner Ensembles 1956–1966 (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1967). Cf. Wilhelm Hortmann, Shakespeare on the German Stage: The Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 148–50. For Nazi criticism of the play, see Wolfgang Keller’s papers ‘Shakespeares R¨ omerdramen,’ Festschrift zur Zweiten deutschen Shakespeare-Woche 1937 (Bochum: Stadtverwaltung, 1937), 11–14, and ‘Shakespeare und die deutsche Jugend,’ Die Neueren Sprachen 45 (1937), 259–78. See also Liselott Eckloff, ‘Heroismus und politisches F¨ uhrertum bei Shakespeare,’ Zeitschrift f¨ur neusprachlichen Unterricht 33 (1938), 97–112.

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20. Bertolt Brecht, St¨ucke XI (Bearbeitungen) (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1964), 382–457. 21. Cf. Lawrence Guntner, ‘Brecht and Beyond: Shakespeare on the East German Stage,’ in Foreign Shakespeare: Contemporary Performance, ed. Dennis Kennedy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 109–39. 22. Cf. Wekwerth, Notate (op. cit). See also Dieter Hoffmeier, ‘Notate zu Bertolt Brechts Bearbeitung von Shakespeares Coriolanus und zur Inszenierung des BE,’ Shakespeare-Jahrbuch (Weimar) 103 (1967), 177–95. 23. Cf. Martin Brunkhorst, Shakespeare’s ‘Coriolanus’ in deutscher Bearbeitung. Sieben Beispiele zum literatur¨asthetischen Problem der Umsetzung und Vermittlung Shakespeares (Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1973), especially 179. 24. G¨ unter Grass, Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand. Ein deutsches Trauerspiel (Neuwied, Berlin: Luchterhand, 1966). See also his essay, ‘Vor- und Nachgeschichte der Trag¨ odie des Coriolanus von Livius und Plutarch u ¨ ber Shakespeare zu Brecht und mir,’ Akzente 3 (1964), 194–221. 25. Cf. Douglas Nash, The Politics of Space: Architecture, Painting and Theater in Postmodern Germany (New York; Washington DC: Peter Lang, 1996), 131–4. 26. ‘Es ist ein Stuhl, sonst nichts. / Warum sich f¨ urchten vor einem leeren Stuhl.’ Germania 3, 9. 27. Cf. Peter von Becker, ‘Gespenster am toten Mann,’ Theater heute. Jahrbuch 1996, 108–11. 28. According to Isot Kilian’s words, such action was propagated by the philosopher Wolfgang Harich during the uprising in Hungary in 1956. The news of his imprisonment on 29 November 1956 is included in the stage directions. 29. The anachronisms here concern only minute time spans. The stage direction at the opening refers to 29 November 1956 (cf. the preceding note). Brecht died on 14 August 1956 and was buried three days later in a lead coffin. 30. The literal meaning of ‘Maßnahme’ is: ‘taking (a person’s) measurements’. 31. Cf. Sibylle Wirsing’s review of the Berlin and Bochum productions in ‘Der Ausgang der Geschichte,’ Theater heute 57, H.8 (1996), 34–6. 32. Cf. Coriolan von William Shakespeare in der Bearbeitung von Bertolt Brecht. B¨uhnenfassung des Berliner Ensembles (Typescript, 1964). The BE playscript which M¨ uller uses is not divided into acts and scenes (like Brecht’s printed version), but into seventeen ‘Bilder’. Bild 1 corresponds to 1.1. (Shakespeare’s text), Bild 10 to 3.2. To allow comparisons with Shakespeare’s text, I have indicated and quoted from the relevant scenes. 33. See the beginning of this paper. 34. In M¨ uller’s text, Coriolanus’s speech ‘H¨angt sie! . . . ’ corresponds to the original ‘Hang ’em! They say? . . . As I could pitch my lance’ (1.1.188–98) and is rounded off with ‘So werden wir in Rom auch vielleicht / Los unsern ¨ Uberschuß, der schimmlig wird.’ – ‘I am glad on’t. Then we shall ha’ means to vent / Our musty superfluity‘ (1.1.225–6). 35. The German text is again a free rendering of the original, see Brutus: ‘Marked you his lip and eyes?’ . . . Brutus: ‘Let’s along’ (1.1.255–79). 36. The BE version contracts Coriolanus’s lines 3.3.91–7 (‘I’ll know no further. / Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death . . . Good morrow’) and lines 3.3.124–39 (‘You common cry of curs . . . There is a world elsewhere’) to one long speech.


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37. M¨ uller quotes from his own Macbeth translation. Cf. Shakespeare, Macbeth, 1.1.1–4. 38. Cf. Sigrid L¨ offler,‘Entsetzenskomiker auf dem M¨ ullhaufen der Geschichte,’ Theater heute 37, H.11 (1996), 8; Heinz Klunker, ‘Ach wie gut, daß niemand weiß . . . ,’ Die deutsche B¨uhne 67, 7 (July 1996), 25–7; Reinhard Mohr, ‘Mach’s leicht, Leander,’ Der Spiegel H.21 (1996), 218–20; Carlos Guimares, ‘Panoptikum, oder von der Kunst, mit Geschichte(n) umzugehen. Zum letzten St¨ uck von Heiner M¨ uller,’ Theater der Zeit 52, H.1 (January/February 1997), XL–XLII. Some productions, e.g. the one in Hamburg, left out ‘Maßnahme 1956’, cf. Sibylle Wirsing, ‘Die Wiedergeburt des Autors als Gespenst,’ Theater heute 38, H.4 (1997), 16–17. Only few critics thought the play a failure, cf. Peter Iden, ‘Ein Trauerspiel in jeder Hinsicht,’ Frankfurter Rundschau 122 (28.05.1996), 10.


‘Something is Rotten . . .’ Niels B. Hansen

Since the first translation of Hamlet into Danish and the first performance of the play at The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in the early nineteenth century, the play about the melancholy and indecisive Dane has always had a very special position among Shakespeare’s plays in Denmark. Generations of Danes have seen themselves or their countrymen in the character of Hamlet. In the 1930s two major Danish writers turned their attention to Shakespeare’s Danish play. In quite different ways they found Hamlet relevant to the political situation in Europe at the time, and used the play in their wish to comment on that situation. In the decade between the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the outbreak of World War II in 1939 the international crisis affected the Danish economy in much the same way as it affected many other European countries. Unemployment was a very serious problem, but for most of the decade the country had a relatively stable Social-Democratic government, and official Denmark steered a middle course in international politics, not least with regard to its powerful neighbour south of the border, Nazi Germany. This balancing act between the major political actors on the European stage influenced decisions in the sphere of cultural policy too, and it is likely that the choice of pre-war Hamlet productions at Elsinore reflects this course. In 1936 a Danish organisation called the National Open-Air Stage was established for the purpose of arranging open-air performances of Hamlet for Danish and international audiences in the courtyard of Kronborg Castle at Elsinore, some 25 miles north of Copenhagen.1 The first production, which took place in the summer of 1937, was a memorable Old Vic performance directed by Tyrone Guthrie and starring Laurence 153


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Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Two years later, John Gielgud took a production to Elsinore as director and leading actor. But in between, in the summer of 1938, Gustav Gr¨ undgens, the celebrated German actor and artistic director of the Berliner Staatstheater, was invited to take his Hamlet to Elsinore. Among the audience was Hermann G¨ oring, Gr¨ undgens’ admirer and protector, who had sailed up the Sound in his private yacht. There is nothing to suggest that any of these productions intended to make a topical political statement. However, the fact that a German production was wedged in between two English Hamlets is a clear indication of the political and cultural climate in Denmark at the time, illustrating its balancing act between its two powerful neighbours. Britain was an important trade partner, and Germany exerted then as in the past a strong influence on the political and cultural life in Denmark. After the German Occupation in 1940 (and for the first half of the duration of the war) the official policy in Denmark was co-operation. The government and official Denmark played safe in the 1930s, but in the country at large, as in the rest of Europe, political and intellectual tensions were running high with vehement verbal, though rarely physical, clashes between left-wing and right-wing sympathisers. The lines were sharply drawn, and the theatre too became a battleground. In this battle Hamlet also had a role to play. It may be said that Hamlet is not essentially a play about war, but as I shall demonstrate it was used by two Danish writers, Johannes V. Jensen and Kaj Munk, in the decade leading up to World War II to comment on the present and impending power game in Denmark and Europe at the time. In both cases Fortinbras and the war aspect of the play are foregrounded, and a military takeover takes place at the end of one of these contemporary versions of Shakespeare’s play.

Jensen’s Hamlet Johannes V. Jensen (1873–1950) was a highly recognised novelist, poet and essayist, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1944. In 1924 he published a slim volume offering an ‘explanation of the figure of Hamlet’.2 In this paper he looks behind not only Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but also Saxo’s and reconstructs the outlines of a pre-literary character in ancient Danish folk culture and folk-tales, not yet a prince, but a spokesman for an underling class: subversive; subtle and sarcastic under cover of folly or madness; canny. Jensen goes on to imagine a new Hamlet constructed out of equal parts Amled, Hamlet, and contemporary malaise, a Hamlet whose brooding and despair are rooted in power

Niels B. Hansen


conflicts, class conflicts. In Jensen’s interpretation, the original ‘Amlode’ was a serf; Shakespeare’s Hamlet was the artist – the player – as underdog and outsider under aristocratic domination. The present-day Hamlet would be a character trod underfoot by a proletarian dictatorship. In 1937 Jensen returned to his ‘explanation of Hamlet’ in the Preface to a new translation of the play, which he made for a performance at The Royal Theatre.3 His translation was indebted to the recent scholarship of John Dover Wilson in the New Cambridge edition, as well as to insights offered in Dover Wilson’s What Happens in Hamlet (1935). Dover Wilson’s interpretation of the play, says Jensen, gives us a less mysterious Hamlet, and this is the inspiration for the more modern diction adopted in the translation. The translation was generally quite well received at the time, but has not stood the test of time. In 1961, it was reviled in a scathing, booklength analysis by Paul Rubow, a prominent Danish Shakespearean.4 To my knowledge, it has never been used again in a performance. The translation reflects not only Dover Wilson’s views, but also Jensen’s own ideas about the character of Hamlet, which are repeated and expanded in the Preface. The subversive clown or jester alleged by Jensen to have existed in versions preceding Saxo is fused with a spirit of rebellion, which was both Shakespeare’s own and, according to Jensen, the essence of Renaissance liberation. This Hamlet is modern man, cerebral and independent, but isolated in his contrast and opposition to Polonius, Laertes, Osric, and Fortinbras. Jensen’s Hamlet is a vital and healthy young man who is brutalised by his surroundings and responds with part wit, part despair. The relevance of these comments to the topic of war may not be immediately apparent. But in the final paragraph of the Preface, almost as a postscript, Johannes V. Jensen brings out the character’s relevance to current affairs in Europe in the 1930s: Three great countries are run as slave states today, one in a Communist, the other two in a Fascist spirit, declared opposites of each other, which is the condition of their existence, but alike and in agreement in the outcome that a spiritual and civic prison house has supplanted the nineteenth-century freedom of the people. In these countries literature and art are now dictated ‘socially’ – dead. If the rest of the world follows suit Shakespeare will come under suspicion again, and with reason, for he was the sovereign spokesman of the free play of personal freedom.


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What is the essence in Hamlet – that the rightful heir to the kingdom has been ousted by sinister forces, by poison – will repeat itself in our time. In what form of madness will Hamlet then, in order to be tolerated, choose to express himself?5 Jensen’s Preface ends with a question mark, and no answer is suggested. For all his insistence on Hamlet’s subversive and independent spirit, Jensen’s translation is in the main faithful to the original plot and dialogue. He does not offer the new Hamlet he imagined in 1924. Jensen’s declared intention is, however, to get closer to the meaning through a freer translation of details, replacing for instance obscure puns and allusions with quite different solutions, different images. One instance will suffice. Following Dover Wilson’s explanation, Jensen translates Shakespeare’s ‘Get thee to a nunnery’ as ‘Ned i Klosterstræde med dig, til de andre ‘‘Jomfruer’’ ’ (i.e. ‘Get down into Convent Street, to the other ‘‘virgins’’ ’), Klosterstræde being a familiar haunt of prostitutes. In many minor matters the language attempts to present a less brooding and enigmatic Hamlet than the nineteenth-century tradition, a more sprightly and energetic, a more ‘modern’ Hamlet. This pervasive tendency in Jensen’s rendering of Hamlet’s lines is quite striking in a passage which Rubow found particularly deplorable, the soliloquy ‘How all occasions do inform against me’ (4.4.32), where Hamlet describes Fortinbras as ‘a delicate and tender prince’. In Jensen’s version this becomes ‘en splejs, et kongefrø’ – colloquial and jaunty words meaning something like ‘a puny lad, a budding king’. Rubow is concerned by what he sees as Jensen’s lack of fidelity to the original and ‘pervasive contempt of the dignity’ of Shakespeare’s style. He comments that Hamlet’s words about Fortinbras convey admiration expressed in noble and beautiful terms, and are quite without the ‘cheeky’ tone of the translation. In the preface, Jensen had singled out this speech as the place where the conflict, the doubleness, in Hamlet’s character is most clearly diagnosed as a choice between primitive function and a civilising split consciousness: ‘In Shakespeare’s day they could not make the choice; can we today?’ The question of topicality leads only – in the spirit of the play – to yet another question mark. But the relevance of the questions in a totalitarian Europe preparing itself for war is unquestionable.

Niels B. Hansen


Munk’s Hamlet A much more daring and provocative version of the Hamlet story had been offered to Danish theatregoers a few years before, by Jensen’s somewhat younger contemporary, Kaj Munk (1898–1944). His Shakespeare’s Hamlet, transposed by Kaj Munk (1935) creates a new Hamlet in a completely modernised setting. Although it echoes and sometimes even translates the language of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it is mostly written in a very colloquial, contemporary idiom. Munk’s intention was clearly to use Shakespeare’s play to comment on current affairs in Denmark and Europe in the 1930s. To grasp the nature of this intention it will be useful to give a short presentation of this very colourful and controversial playwright. Munk graduated in divinity in the early 1920s and became a rector in a remote parish in West Jutland, almost as far away from Copenhagen as you can get. It was, however, his ambition to make a name for himself as a dramatist, and indeed to awaken the consciousness of the nation. He wrote a number of plays in the 1920s, but not until 1928 did he have a play accepted by The Royal Theatre. This first play, An Idealist, fared badly with the Copenhagen critics, whereas his second play, Cant, was a great success, and within a few years he had become the leading playwright of the decade. The epigraph he chose for An Idealist was a phrase by Soeren ´ (‘The purity of the heart is Kierkegaard: ‘Hjertets Renhed er at ville Et’ the will to do one thing only’). All his plays, be they historical – like An Idealist (about King Herod) and Cant (about the English king, Henry VIII) – or contemporary, are anchored in Munk’s idealism and strong Christian faith. Technically his plays were traditional rather than innovative, but they were daring and passionate in their ideas and language, and they were born of their author’s strong sense of vocation. He was highly critical of many tendencies in contemporary Danish society and culture. He was very sceptical about the parliamentary system and the nature of democratic government in the inter-war period. Out of his disillusionment with the political climate at home grew a fascination with and admiration for the powerful and dynamic political leaders in Europe. His ‘hero-worship’ had found dramatic expression in an early play (written in 1926) about a modern idealist, inspired by Georg Brandes and in the published version from 1929 dedicated to ‘the master who has died’ (Brandes had died in 1928). Brandes’s ideas and beliefs were far from Munk’s, and the portrait of Professor Krater in I Brændingen is in most


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respects negative, but his towering stature, his passion and his singleness of purpose compelled the playwright’s respect. So his frustration with the political situation in Denmark in the mid-1930s made him envisage a strong man at the head of the nation like those he saw in Italy and Germany: political leaders with the qualities of a Fortinbras rather than a Hamlet. In 1934 Munk journeyed through Europe to Egypt and Palestine and wrote a travel book about his impressions.6 In this book Munk voiced ideas about Nazi Germany, which affected his reputation for a long time. Despite some misgivings, he saw in Hitler a man who had the courage to do what the situation required. And he saw a Denmark that needed not Hitler, but a man like Hitler with a sense of vocation. It was in this mood that he wrote his 1930s Hamlet, which opened at the Betty Nansen Theatre in Copenhagen in March 1935. The reviews were mixed but largely negative, whereas many theatregoers received the play very positively. Reviewers tended to reject it for its disrespectful use of Shakespeare, for its too colloquial, jaunty dialogue, and for inconsistencies caused by the transposition from a Renaissance to a modern setting. A significant element in this transposition to a 1930s Denmark was the conflict between a corrupt, impotent and vulgar democracy and a resolute and energetic fascist leader ready to take over. Soon after the premi`ere Kaj Munk set forth his intentions and defended his undertaking in a theatre periodical.7 He wanted to write a play that would be like a clarion call to a new national leader, but rejected foreign models for the protagonist of a play about Denmark. The obvious alternative was to write a play about the impossibility of creating such a leader on Danish soil. But for fear of the paralysing effect of the gutless, hopeless hero, the play would need at the end the promise of an uplifting, liberating future, a storm that might whip up the stagnant Danish waters. Out of this ambition grew the idea of transposing Hamlet into a modern young Dane, disillusioned, angry, but listless, and transposing Fortinbras into his foil, the confident and dynamic leader of the nation. Quite possibly Munk saw himself in the weak young man who realises the need for action but fails to act. In the preface to the printed version of the play (1938)8 he wrote that ‘no one in the world is more qualified than I to write the play about student Hamlet, prince of Denmark’. With many minor and some major changes Munk succeeded in transposing the story of the Renaissance prince and his world into a contemporary setting for the purpose of writing a tract for the times.

Niels B. Hansen


This paper is concerned with his intentions, rather than with the artistic merits of his play. In most respects the plot of the original has been preserved, though with significant alterations. It can hardly be described as a translation, though. The play is much shorter than Hamlet, and nearly all of it is in prose (only the ghost speaks in blank verse). The modern setting is consistently presented in a very contemporary idiom full of topical references. On the other hand, many phrases mirror or echo the original, as the following examples will show. Corresponding to Hamlet 1.1.139–59 (the last 20 lines of Hamlet’s first soliloquy, starting with ‘So excellent a king . . . ’) Munk writes: Min Far, saa fin og klog en Mand og øm mod Mor, saa næppe en Vind fik Lov at røre hendes Ansigt! Og hun selv, der hang ved ham – fulgte ham til Graven saa opløst af Graad som han selv af Vand – og saa gift med denne Bandit, hans Bror, der ikke ligner ham mer end jeg Herkules, gift med ham, før de Sko var gamle, hvori hun fulgte Far til Graven – aah Svaghed, dit Navn er Kvinde. Min Gud, min Gud, hvorfor dør man ikke af Sorg?9 In back translation: My father, so fine and wise a man and so tender to mother that hardly a wind was allowed to touch her face. And she herself, who hung upon him – followed him to the grave as dissolved by tears as he by water – and now married to this bandit, his brother, who is no more like him than I am like Hercules, married to him before those shoes were old in which she followed father to the grave – oh, frailty, your name is woman. My God, my God, why does one not die with sorrow? In Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy, whose train of thought Munk follows fairly closely, though in a considerably abbreviated form, the lines ‘When he himself might his quietus make / With a bare bodkin’ are turned into: ‘hvis man blot ved at lukke sin Garagedør for en ustandset Motor kunde sætte sit Hjertes Motor i Staa’ (‘if you just by closing your garage door with the car engine running might stop the engine of your heart’). In the ensuing conversation with Ophelia Hamlet advises her: ‘Sky ægteskabet, Ofelia! Bliv selverhvervende!’ (‘shun marriage, Ophelia! Become a self-supporting woman!’); and Claudius’s means of getting rid of Hamlet is to have him hospitalised in a psychiatric clinic. The more significant alterations, however, concern the world in which Hamlet lives. Hamlet’s world – the Denmark that was to be occupied by


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Germany five years later without much opposition – is indeed out of joint. Modern Hamlet’s denigration of his uncle and his countrymen as he hears the noise from the palace in 1.4 goes as follows: I hate this banqueting in our country which makes us a fable to other people. Instead of Danes we are called drunks. A sip of schnapps is simply called an ‘Aalborg’. With hens and cows we conquer England now. Bacon has become the Danes’ road to praise and power.10 Much is amiss in society and in the corridors of power, and the press is described as particularly corrupt. ‘The fewer papers, the more health in the nation’, Hamlet tells Horatio, and continues: ‘If only I could become a dictator in Denmark and stop all those rags.’11 From the opening lines of the play, a dialogue between two servants, the press is singled out for scathing criticism. The poison that killed Hamlet’s father, the Prime Minister of Denmark, flowed from the pens of a malicious and despicable tribe of newspapermen; but the poison pens were fed by his brother. Sick and tired, the grand old man capsized while paddling his kayak off the coast of Elsinore and failed to swim ashore. Somewhat incongruously in a modern democracy, Hamlet senior has been succeeded by his brother, who has also married his widow. Among the topical features in this updated Hamlet the prominent presence of a fascist-type Fortinbras in the wings is particularly relevant for the way Munk has used Shakespeare’s play to focus on the situation in a Europe dominated by totalitarian regimes and on the brink of war. The idea of an alternative to a rotten democratic system is prominent from the opening of the play with a brief reference to Fortinbras. Next, in his first speech Claudius says, proposing a toast to the memory of his dead brother, that ‘the language that Fortinbras, the young hothead in Slesvig, uses at the Nazi meetings in the provinces is a call to all healthy forces in our people to rally in unwavering solidarity round all good old ideals’.12 In his next reference to Fortinbras Claudius describes him in the following words: ‘Who does that mayfly think he is? Rushing round the country in an aeroplane, agitating the people against the lawful government.’ In a scene corresponding to Laertes’s arrival at the head of a mob in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet is about to be hospitalised in a private psychiatric clinic when Fortinbras forces his way into Claudius’s presence announcing that he will march on Copenhagen, threatening confrontation and revolution.

Niels B. Hansen


FORTINBRAS: Prime Minister! To-morrow I begin to assemble people from all over Jutland for the march on Copenhagen. You have forbidden us to wear uniforms. We defy the prohibition. You have forbidden us to carry arms. We carry arms. What are you going to do? CLAUDIUS: What I am going to do? I don’t know. I’ll tell you: I shall convene Parliament immediately. I shall right away set up a committee. FORTINBRAS: Prime Minister, we are not interested in what you plan to do. We only accept your resignation. CLAUDIUS: That’s out of the question. FORTINBRAS: Send troops against us if you dare. Within a week we shall reach Sealand. CLAUDIUS: Do you mean to walk across the water? FORTINBRAS: I have more boats than I need. We shall disembark where it suits us. Next Sunday I shall be at Kristiansborg, and you’ll be on the run out of the country. CLAUDIUS: You threaten the government. I arrest you. FORTINBRAS: Do it. Ring the bell. – You hesitate. Sorry, but I haven’t got the time to wait. I’ll see you. (Exit.)13 Significantly, the denigration of Fortinbras is voiced by Claudius. In Munk’s version Hamlet’s reaction to the observation of this ‘delicate and tender prince’ (4.4.48) is to express his admiration for the resolute behaviour of this ‘vigorous and bluff lad’ so unlike himself. As in Jensen’s reading of Hamlet’s character mentioned above, this is a key passage for Munk’s Hamlet, though it is a very different Hamlet he projects. This is Munk’s version of Shakespeare’s ‘How all occasions do inform against me’ soliloquy: Here I stand, hearing it cry to me from my father’s grave and my mother’s disgrace: to action, to action! And my soul is mouldy: what dare I, what dare I, what outcome? This deliberation, which is one part wisdom and three parts cowardice, while Fortinbras – but no, from now on the world shall see me as another man. Red and bloody my thoughts shall be.14 However, this Hamlet is unable to lift the burden and purge the rotten realm. From the gravediggers we learn that Fortinbras may already be outside the city and that he will be welcomed by all and sundry. And so, at the very end, when Hamlet after a veritable shoot-out is dying in


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the arms of Horatio, Fortinbras arrives with a fleet of aeroplanes. Hearing that the people elect Fortinbras, Hamlet says: ‘I too. He shall sit in my dad’s chair, the one I would never have been fit for.’ Corresponding to Fortinbras’s final speech in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Munk has his Fortinbras end the play with this speech: Now that the old regime has settled its accounts, the work I owe my country will be easier. And you, my poor, sick, noble friend, Hamlet, a child of your people and your age, shall be buried like a chieftain. Blow, my men.15 As Munk saw it, something was rotten in the state of Denmark, and the time was out of joint, but Hamlet, the indecisive and brooding Dane, was not born to set it right. A different kind of Dane was needed for that task, a man with a firm belief in himself and the ability to act. To use Shakespeare’s Danish play to diagnose problems in contemporary Danish society and suggest a cure proved unfortunate. Quite apart from the improbabilities created by the transposition and the jarring modern idiom, the idea of making a Fortinbras with storm-trooper features into the saviour of the nation was unacceptable, not only to the reviewers but to many Danes at the time. The reviews in the Copenhagen dailies on 9 March, the day after the premi`ere, were largely negative. Berlingske Tidende’s critic called it an interesting failure, which was received with a mixture of cheering and jeering,16 and objected to the modernisation of the language in particular. The review in Politiken appeared under the headline: ‘Hamlet without Meaning’ and expanded on this by saying that the play had been deprived of spirit, beauty and meaning.17 Some, but not all, paid attention to the built-in political message, considering it ill-judged, alien, and embarrassing. In the following weeks, the debate continued. The play turned out to be more popular with theatregoers generally than with the critics and the first-night audience. In newspaper articles, admirers came to Munk’s defence, and Munk (who had been ill when the play opened) took arms against his denigrators, first in a speech from the stage at the end of a performance, and later in the above-mentioned article where he invented a visit by Shakespeare himself to his study in the remote rectory (see Figure 12.1) and had him suggest and recommend the transposition: ‘Use my Hamlet! Transplant the dialogue to Danish prose of today, make the characters your contemporaries . . . Give them the real thing, show them my Hamlet, he who is of the age of his audience.’18

Niels B. Hansen


Figure 12.1 Munk asks Shakespeare to write in modern Danish. ‘Kaj Munk taler med Shakespeare’, Forum, Tidsskrift for Musik og Teater, vol. 3 (March 1935), 8–10. Cartoon by Hans Bendix, reproduced with permission from the heirs to his estate.

In the same issue of Forum, Svend Erichsen offered some reflections on Munk’s project.19 Though not completely without appreciative comments on the production, this is a scathing attack on what he calls ‘Kaj Munk’s Nazi-Hamlet’. The play’s Fortinbras alludes to a real, but dubious, Danish Nazi leader in Slesvig, so, says Erichsen, ‘the liberating outcome promising a greater future – which is supposed to prevent the audience from collapsing in despair – Munk has found in Fritz Clausen’s South Jutland Nazism. And thus the play is inevitably condemned to end in a parody.’ It is a fact, though, that many Danes at the time shared Munk’s ideas, his loathing of the way things were going in Denmark, as well as his fascination with developments in Germany, and they closed their eyes and ears to the injustices and atrocities in the Third Reich. The disgust and the dream of an invigorating spirit were the driving force in Munk’s


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mind at this point, not a dream of a Nazi takeover. Later, in a 1935 newspaper article on the occasion of a general election, he wrote about Denmark’s political system, which is ‘ugly, dead, poisonous, long since fit for burial on the dunghill’ and the need to find ‘signs of undiminished vigour, a sense of values, goals beyond the here and now’.20 In his Hamlet play, a military operation and the threat of war suggested by real movements at home and abroad are offered as a solution to the national malaise. Whatever admiration Munk may have felt for Hitler’s Germany was soon to evaporate and give way to disapproval and open attacks as Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, and war broke out. After the occupation of Denmark in 1940, Munk became an outspoken critic of the Wehrmacht and a rallying point for anti-German feelings, to the degree that in early 1944 he was arrested in his home, taken away and shot, and left in a ditch beside a main road. Munk had found the mission and perhaps the martyrdom that he desired. And he had found more appropriate models for a national leader. In 1940 he wrote two plays about national icons. In Egelykke it is Grundtvig, a famous and highly influential nineteenth-century religious reformer and advocate of a Christian and national identity, who finds his vocation. In Niels Ebbesen, the national hero who reluctantly takes arms against a sea of troubles is a famous fourteenth-century freedom fighter against German oppression. But already in 1938 in Han sidder ved Smeltediglen (‘He sits at the Crucible’) Munk had attacked Nazi Germany and especially its persecution of the Jews. In very different ways Jensen and Munk turned to Shakespeare’s Hamlet to analyse and describe the Danish national character and its resources in times of distress and disorder. Both Munk’s doubting and inefficient hero and Jensen’s canny Hamlet, who was expected to respond to totalitarian brutality with a double-barrelled weapon of folly and wit, reflected the way we were. During the occupation the canny Hamlet materialised much in the manner of Brecht’s Schweyk in the Second World War, while the role Munk had envisaged for Fortinbras was now associated with another legendary Danish hero, Holger Danske (Ogier the Dane), who in a carved likeness sleeps in the cellar vaults of Hamlet’s castle, and who is supposed to wake and take arms in times of national disaster. One of the major resistance groups took his name. Today both Jensen and Munk are considered major figures in twentieth-century Danish literature. Neither Jensen’s translation and comments nor Munk’s transposition added anything substantial to their authors’ lasting reputation. But these two Danish texts are relevant

Niels B. Hansen


examples of the way Shakespeare again and again has lent himself to adaptation and interpretation so as to speak to the moment and to the minds of people all over Europe, in peacetime and wartime.

Notes 1. For information about these performances see my ‘Gentlemen You are Welcome to Elsinore: Hamlet in Performance at Kronborg Castle, Elsinore,’ in Edward E. Esche (ed.), Shakespeare and his Contemporaries in Performance (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), 109–19. 2. Johannes V. Jensen, Hamlet: Til Forklaring af Hamletskikkelsen (København: Gyldendalske Boghandel, 1924). The paper was first published in the Danish daily Politiken in September 1922, and read to The Shakespeare Association in London in December 1923. 3. William Shakespeare: Hamlet, paa dansk ved Johannes V. Jensen (København: Gyldendalske Boghandel, 1937). 4. Paul V. Rubow, Hamlet i Original og Oversættelse (København: Bianco Lunos Bogtrykkeri, 1961). 5. Jensen, 20, my translation. 6. Kaj Munk, Vedersø-Jerusalem retur (København: Nyt Nordisk Forlag, 1934). All translations from Munk are mine. 7. ‘Kaj Munk taler med Shakespeare,’ Forum, Tidsskrift for Musik og Teater, vol. 3 (March 1935), 8–10. 8. Shakespeares Hamlet omsat af Kaj Munk (København: privately publ., 1938). 9. Munk, Hamlet, 14–15. 10. Munk, Hamlet, 24. Aalborg, the city where most Danish akvavit is distilled, was (and is) a colloquial term for the drink. The last words in the quotation echo a line from our national anthem: ‘Du danskes vej til ros og magt’. 11. Munk, Hamlet, 17. 12. Munk, Hamlet, 13. There was, in fact, a Danish Nazi party, whose leader, Fritz Clausen, came from this region, which for centuries had been a battleground between German and Danish allegiances. Part of the land that Denmark lost in a war in 1864 had been voted back in a plebiscite in 1920. 13. Munk, Hamlet, 73–4: ‘Hr Statsminister, i Morgen begynder jeg at samle folk fra hele Jylland til Marchen mod København . . . ’. 14. Munk, Hamlet, 74–5: ‘og jeg staar her og hører det skrige til mig fra min Fars Grav og min Mors Skændsel . . . ’. 15. Munk, Hamlet, 90. 16. The headline was: ‘En mislykket, men interessant aften’ (‘a failed but interesting evening’). 17. ‘Hamlet uden Mening’. In translation the headline continues: ‘Kaj Munk’s exploitation of ‘‘Hamlet’’ showed that Shakespeare works best on his own.’ 18. ‘Kaj Munk taler med Shakespeare’. 19. Svend Erichsen, ‘Kaj Munk’s Nazi-Hamlet,’ Forum, Tidsskrift for Musik og Teater, vol. 3 (March 1935), 16–17. 20. ‘Gamle Danmark skal best˚a,’ Jyllandsposten, 27.10.1935.

13 Never-ending Conflict: Man (and Woman) as Death Bearer in Testori’s Macbetto Carla Dente

Giovanni Testori, who died at the age of seventy in 1993, was one of the more original and important Italian playwrights of the second half of the twentieth century. He was also a poet, a novelist, a painter and an art critic, although he always was an outsider in the marketplace of culture due to the subversive drive of his work and, as we shall see in some of the interviews he gave, his uncompromising attitude. In 2003, a retrospective of his work was mounted in Rome, the centre of the Italian theatre industry, under the title Sdervisciate il siparium! (Raise the curtains!). This phrase, in a newly coined Milanese language, was a tribute to Testori’s theatrical idiolect, but also made a phonological connection with ‘Dervish’, and thus the religious dances of that sect, pointing to one of Testori’s favourite themes: the ritualistic quality of theatre performance. That year, 2003, also marked the thirtieth anniversary of the Milanese repertory theatre, Teatro Pier Lombardo, which had opened on 16 January 1973 with Ambleto, the first play in Testori’s La trilogia degli scarrozzanti (The Stroller’s Trilogy). The trilogy rewrites three great myths of the theatre: Hamlet, Macbeth, and Oedipus. Macbetto appeared in 1974 and Edipus in 1977.1 Run by the leading actor Franco Parenti, and the young female director Andr´ee Ruth Shammah, with Testori as dramaturg, Teatro Pier Lombardo was to secure a reputation as a centre for the writing and production of new plays, also hosting innovative visiting productions and other arts events – concert seasons, film festivals, and lecture series. In this chapter, I will investigate Testori’s rewriting of Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a play about war permeating all levels of human life, from the personal to the political, and the way this was reinterpreted in various productions directed by Andr´ee Ruth Shammah. 166

Carla Dente


The theatrical context By the 1970s, the experimental drive inspired by Artaud, Brook, and Grotowski, and associated with ‘directors’ theatre’ had become exhausted. The leading exponents in Italy – Giorgio Strehler, Luigi Squarzina and Gianfranco de Bosio – were now turning to productions revolving around spectacle. Directors’ theatre had resulted in an emphasis on the classics, with little attention being paid to new writing. As a result, those Italian dramatists who acquired popularity and acclaim, such as Eduardo De Filippo and Dario Fo, were director-author-managers in a development of the nineteenth-century tradition. Two people voiced their dissent. Pasolini and Testori were not only dramatists but also poets. In the politically charged atmosphere of Italy in the 1970s, they set about ‘polemically opposing the directors’ theatre and its experiments, and passionately favouring a rediscovery of the poetic value of language and of the ritual value of the theatre event’.2 Testori, in particular, engaged in a harsh controversy ‘against the theatre of the intellect’, with special reference to Pirandello and Brecht, whose works he felt were overestimated. In an interview for the newspaper Il giorno in 1974, he stated that the theatre is the only place where one can attempt to say the swear-word that will enrage everyone. The theatre is a religious rite, a sacrifice, an immolation . . . The theatre doesn’t have to be didactic as Brecht’s, with all due respect for Brecht. Catholics have invented the doctrine for our souls, Marxists the one useful for our lifetimes, but both send the same invitation: come here, I will teach you. Whereas theatre, art, in a totally different way, should be unique experiences.3

The Stroller’s Trilogy Testori’s The Stroller’s Trilogy is still remarkable for the almost blasphemous violence of its monologues. It is a cry of outrage against birth and death, a curse against the Author of Creation, but simultaneously a cry of despair articulated by Man in his symbolic masks, as Ambleto, Macbetto, and Edipus. The three plays are unified by the figure of the Stroller, the actor-manager of a travelling theatre company that is gradually disintegrating. The actors leave him one by one over the course of the first two plays, until he remains alone to perform Edipus as a monologue, and is thus brought to face his failure as an artist. This signals a play-withinthe-play, which shows an awareness of the theatricality of the whole


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operation, a simultaneous game engaging with the existential dimension of the texts. The plays and the mythic characters around which they are constructed form an international theatre tradition, which habitually triggers opposing reactions.4 In this case the very distortion of the titles works as a signal, pointing to the reworking of their archetypes. The old stories are disfigured by contact with the present time, society and culture, and with the hopeless banality of everyday experience, as well as the hardship and degradation of the un-heroic life of the vagrant. The Stroller’s failure is opposed to, and at the same time paradigmatic of, the fortunes of the tragic hero. His life of artistic failure and existential stalemate mirrors those of the plays’ protagonists, but reduced to the ordinary, the everyday. All this is painfully recognisable to the audience. Testori’s use of Shakespeare demonstrates the importance to him of the English author. While confirming the mythical authority of both Shakespeare and his text, Testori paradoxically completely rewrites that text, to adapt it to his own expressive needs. These needs, however, are not so much prompted by a new cultural paradigm as by Testori’s desire for self-realisation. This places him on a collision course with generally accepted moral and behavioural norms. Peter Holbrook has written about Gide’s way of using Shakespeare, a way shared by other authors of his period:

I have become interested in the ways in which enthusiasm for Shakespeare plays a part in projects of self-creation, projects that bring one into conflict with moral norms. . . . But . . . I think one can make the case that celebrating Shakespeare could be a way of subtly legitimating dissident or non-conformist identities. 5

Alan Sinfield seems to confirm this when he remarks that generally, when people use Shakespeare’s work, it is for the ratification of their viewpoints. In a vivid metaphor, he says that they want ‘to hijack him . . . as they do Madonna or the pope’.6 Holbrook rightly points to the different cultural meaning of such a drive towards the primacy of the individual at the end of the nineteenth century compared to now, when it has become not only mainstream but often banal. I would argue that Testori, a dedicated Roman Catholic as well as openly homosexual, shared Gide’s attitude of equating the development of the self to the emancipation of society.

Carla Dente


Macbetto and war Testori’s reading of Shakespeare’s Macbeth points to the themes of man’s lust for power, which overwhelms any other ‘natural’ feelings like hierarchical obedience due to the monarch, respect for the law of hospitality, maternal instincts, the natural desire to protect children, and pity for those who suffer. His reading stresses Shakespeare’s discovery that, paradoxically, war does not resolve conflict. Macbeth, of course, opens with the short, almost incantatory lines of the witches. It continues with news of Macbeth’s victory told by a soldier who has returned from the battle, covered in blood. Testori’s text follows and intensifies this construction. The idea of the rite, so much an integral part of his idea of the theatre experience, is conveyed by the setting – the ruins of an ancient country church, now desecrated, where a half ruined altar is still recognisable – while the lines spoken by the Chorus comment on the nature and effects of war: Merda, sangue, merda! cos’`e la guerra sia che si svincia, sia che si perda? Merda, sangue, merda! (1235) (Shit, Blood, Shit! / What is war / either won / or lost? / Shit, blood,/shit!)7 The Chorus is made up of war victims – mutilated warriors who have returned from the battlefield. They describe wounded bodies, scattered limbs, bloody body parts, and shout expletives against all kinds of authority, both Church and State. Indeed, the identity of these institutions is blatantly established through costume, since the authority figures tend to wear church vestments.

Forza, su! Ancora un passo per poter vosare casso, casso ai duci, casso ai re! Per poter vosare forte contra tutta la gran Corte: merda, merda, merda a te! (1237)


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(March on! Another step / so you can cry fuck, / fuck Dukes, fuck Kings! / So you can cry out loud / against the whole Court: / shit, shit, shit on you!) Macbetto makes an immediate connection between religion and theatre, one of Testori’s recurring themes: MACBETTO: Esercito del re e, donca, dato che sei ‘rivato nell’absida di sta’ antechissima giesa ovver teatro, esercito della sublima, trageca e devina poasia, recita in coro la prima mia didascalia. (1238) (Now, Army of the King, / since you have arrived / in the apse of this very ancient Church / or theatre, army of the sublime / tragic and divine poetry, / perform as a chorus my first stage direction.) Both Shakespeare and Testori build up our expectations of the heroic protagonist before his first entrance, so that in both cases he can be immediately recognised as a representative of the power achieved through bravery in war. That feeling of personal triumph causes a lust for power in both characters which must be pursued through any means. Once the process has started, the protagonist is trapped in a spiral, leaving him no further choice: betrayal follows betrayal and foul deeds accumulate in the protagonist’s conscience.

War and inner conflict Rather than the openly political topic of war, it is perhaps the more private conflict between man and woman that most characterises Testori’s Macbetto. Testori displays a harsh radicalism, rooted both in ideology and in his personal biography. As we have seen, he was both a professed homosexual and a fervent Catholic, with all the contradictions which that entails. In his plays, he blasphemes against that Divinity which has placed man in such a tangle of contradictory impulses and prohibitions. At the beginning of the play, in a labour of biblical proportions, with much blood and pain, and alluding to a similar story about the birth of the prophet Mohammed in traditional anti-Islamic propaganda,

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Macbetto gives rectal birth to a witch, la Stria. Mariangela Tempera notes: ‘The process of emasculation of Shakespeare’s hero started by Verdi and Ristori reaches here its climax: ‘‘I feel I am becoming a woman . . . ’’ is Macbetto’s anguished cry’ when he gives birth.8 This is not just an exchange of gender markers, however, but a dramatisation of the motif of sterility that critics have sometimes found in Lady Macbeth’s lines: Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full Of direst cruelty. (Macbeth, 1.5.39–42) Gender is by no means a stable feature of identity, nor is it simply a cultural construction. Rather it is contingently defined by a series of performances open to transformation and shift. The performative nature of gender suits Testori’s concept of the ‘trinity’ of religion-theatre-poetry in relation to man. In the episode of Stria’s birth, Macbetto appears as a poor soul, compelled by his wife, Ledi, to expel the witch from his intestine, as a sort of ‘objective correlative’ of the impulse towards power and destruction expressed by his deformed conscience, which prompts him to betray and kill. When he realizes this process is at work inside himself, however, he performs an action of self-repression and stabs Ledi, the prime mover of his drive for power. This takes place in the explicit of the drama, which thus closes on the same note of war and violence which had characterised its opening. The violence is prompted by personal, inward motivations. The existential situation, however, is that of a man who is essentially honest, but has always been a slave to the woman who haunts his life and is portrayed as the repository of all evils. While stabbing his wife, Macbetto addresses the audience, unveiling the secret of women’s power over men. His wife responds by stabbing him in turn, while celebrating women’s greater stamina in their lust for power, and their location at the foundation of life, in all its manifestations, both high and low: la gloria della figa comincia a moster`arsi solo ‘desso, la vedarete scendere su noi e su de voi: la gloria d’essere de tutto e tutti la n`assita, la tetta, la latrina e anca il cesso. (1315–16)


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(The glory of the cunt starts showing only now / you will see it letting itself down on us, on you: / the glory of being all and for all / birth, breasts, piggery and pigsty.) In a transmutation of Shakespeare’s line, Stria has previously prophesied that only someone who is ‘neither man nor woman’ can bring Macbetto down. Macbetto realises at this point that that person is Ledi, his wife. He throws the body of their creature, Stria, upon the dying body of his wife to rot with her. Testori conceives of man’s existential condition as an inevitable fate leading to death, decay and annihilation. It is thus difficult for him to explain the insanity of bearing new life, which inevitably increases the amount of suffering inherent in the human condition. Each birth leads to an inevitable death. The only possible explanation for man’s obstinate desire to perpetuate his race is that through the irrational agency of Eros, bodies are lured into the act of procreation in the full awareness of death, making real the archetypal friction between culture (rationality) and

Figure 13.1 Ledi (Luisa Rossi) and Macbetto (Franco Parenti), Giovanni Testori’s Macbetto (dir. Andr´ee Ruth Shammah; photo, Tommaso LePera), Teatro Pier Lombardo, Milan, 1974.

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natural instincts (barbarity and Eros). Unable to resolve this fundamental antinomy, Testori then turns towards the illumination of divine Grace, to the hope springing from despair. It could perhaps be suggested that he also sublimated in himself the instinct for paternity through writing. In the political and cultural controversies of Italy in the seventies, contradictory accusations of political involvement and political detachment were being levelled at intellectuals by opposing sides in turn. This is how Testori defines the writer’s function in these circumstances: To say what is not allowed to be said. To breach the ‘non licet’. To cry out what no one, neither the Church, nor the bourgeois, nor the poor wish to hear: that which is uncomfortable. I don’t always know what it is, but I do know where to find it, beyond the veils that have never been torn apart.9 Testori’s work, in particular his use of language, resonates with other isolated literary figures like Gadda in the field of the novel, Sanguineti in poetry.10 In Macbetto, Testori addresses the themes of violence and passion, characteristic of Elizabethan tragedy, of the destruction of things, people and emotions brought about by war, and investigates the why and how of birth and death, of love and hate. The language in which he does so, an invented compound of an archaising Lombardy dialect never actually spoken, is a symbolic representation of the many wars that have afflicted Lombardy, since it comprises scattered words and phrases from all the languages spoken by the invaders of Lombardy over the centuries. Or rather, this language is the arena where another war is taking place, fought through a pastiche of Latin, Longobard, French, Venetian, German, with the addition of invented lexemes necessarily resembling those of standard Italian, in order to secure both understanding and defamiliarisation. It is not a regression into dialect, but rather a constructive process similar to that of the avant-garde movements, which is capable of expressing/representing the crisis of the subject always on the verge of dissolution and death. In this process only, along the lines of Beckett’s paradoxical exploration, lies the final hope of finding meaning in the intricacies of the conflicts between the self, the Father principle, the Mother figure and the Other. This language is used as a tool to move from naturalism to nature with the necessary mediation of the actor, from the word intended as the representation of matter to matter itself. Testori’s theatre is the theatre of


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the word, a word sometimes unbearably rooted in physiology, creating knots that become untangled only through bursts of the irrational that the theatre alone can contain.11 In this way, war is not just made the object of representation, but becomes embodied in each element of the performance: language, blood and excrement, thus retrieving the ritualistic role of the theatre when confronted with the original problematic tangle of life and death. In the moment of his violent death, in an orgy of blood and pieces of flesh, Macbetto utters the only lines with any sense at all of a better life to come: Un’alba? Cosa mo’ domando? Un ciaro un mattutino celestrino, il tenero levarsi de un’albetta che trema e so stremisce me fudesse dell’Arca de No`e la superstita capretta. (1320) (Dawn? What am I asking for? A glimmer / a morning blue, / the tender rising of / a trembling, shivering dawn / as the kid leaving Noah’s Ark.)

The context of reception It is his withdrawal to a personal dimension that is responsible for the charge of conservatism that has frequently been levelled against Testori’s dramas. Testori is an isolated example of a dramatist who breaks with both the venerable Shakespearean tradition on the Italian stage, as epitomised in Verdi’s re-writing, and with the fashionable political radicalism of the intellectuals. He thus subverted the most obvious expectations of Italian audiences in the early seventies, but it is also true that this position in itself constitutes a retreat from the collective problems of contemporary Italian society. That decade had been characterised by a radicalisation of social and political thinking and activities, first brought about by the Student Movement called ‘Sessantotto’, the Italian manifestation of the international phenomenon started at Berkeley four years previously. The ideological seeds of the armed civil insurrections of the seventies had been sown during the occupations of the Universities of Trento (1966) and Pisa (1967), through the publication of pamphlets celebrating

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civil warfare and in a series of trade union demonstrations known as ‘l’autunno caldo’ in 1969, which culminated in the brutal killing of a policeman during a demonstration in Milan. This episode was followed by the massacre caused by the Piazza Fontana bomb in 1970, which bore the hallmarks of an extreme right-wing group. The foundation of the Red Brigades in late 1969, and (in the immediate aftermath of ‘Piazza Fontana’) of the Gap, inspired by Feltrinelli to help create the conditions for an armed social and political uprising, were matched by episodes and organisations on the other side: for example, the Reggio Calabria riots, fomented by extremist, extra-parliamentary right-wing forces, supposedly about absurd demands for the town to be made the regional capital; or the still obscure episode of the occupation by the National Front (Valerio Borghese) of the armoury in the Viminale Palace, the site of the Home Office in Rome, in December 1970.12 To cut a long and tragic story short, the early 1970s were marked by a state of general unrest often described by the theory of ‘opposed extremisms’: violent demonstrations followed by violent repression. Kidnappings and killings of industrialists, judges, journalists and politicians were the ways in which terrorist groups of various political persuasions manifested their dissent. I still remember how easily at the time a regular newspaper reader could gather the impression that she was living in a time when wounding and killing seemed the only means to achieve political aims. The situation took a different turn when ‘white collar’ workers at FIAT, Italy’s largest industry, which had always played a leading role in Union debate in Italy, organised a march of dissent in Turin to foreground the workers’ true position on the conditions of life created by internal terrorism. Testori’s quintessential response to this problem is apparent in the interview he gave at the time to Il Giorno:

INTERVIEWER: In a fairly recent controversy, intellectuals were accused of not being sufficiently engaged politically. What is your position? TESTORI: Political involvement? When the time comes I choose as a citizen and I come out more than most others. As an artist what should I do? Tell well-known stories that others, with more suitable tools, can more efficiently disseminate, making them available to the appropriate parts of our brains? As an artist I am not against Agnelli, Almirante, the Unions, or against the ruling class; if anything, I am against the world and God who made it.13


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Director versus dramatist In the ideological landscape thus depicted, it is easy to find correlatives to the play’s violent scenes in external, historical contexts, and perhaps to overlook the importance of the personal dimension, so carefully and intentionally constructed by the author through his meditations on the themes of birth, gender, the meaning of life and suffering, the constant presence of death, the violence whereby life prevails, or is negated by a hostile fate or divine sentence. Any even moderately successful production of Testori’s work is almost bound to be an explosion of energy, but sometimes the succession of crude curses has offended audiences. It is largely Testori’s most frequent director, Andr´ee Ruth Shammah, who has been responsible for foregrounding the political relevance of his plays. Her repeated productions of his Macbetto show an interesting and productive tension between the author’s desire to work the original text more and more towards the intimately personal, and the director’s wish to use his text to illustrate contemporary political themes. Audiences have invariably found these productions deeply disturbing.

Figure 13.2 Macbetto (Franco Parenti), Ledi (Luisa Rossi) and the chorus (Flavio Bonacci, Pier Giorgio Plebani, Laurent Gerber, Giovanni Battezzato); Giovanni Testori’s Macbetto (dir. Andrée Ruth Shammah; photo, Tommaso LePera), Teatro Pier Lombardo, Milan, 1974.

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Each time Shammah has attempted a new staging of this play, in a fruitful tension with this painful personal process, she has tended to insert production features designed to evoke contemporary, collective fears through allusions to specific socio-historical events. The costumes, remarkably vivid but timeless in their reference, have always tended to enhance the play’s themes, rather than link to a specific historical context. However, this style has proven to be no barrier to any social and political re-contextualisation the director wished to activate in the audience’s minds. As I have already remarked, some of the costumes suggest Catholic Church vestments, thus embodying the pressure towards conformity brought to bear on personal transgressive attitudes by civil and religious power, particularly in the seventies. They were also powerful visual images of the curse against God, in line with Testori’s design for his play. The general influence of Shakespeare thus functions for the director as a method: the dramatist’s use of medieval history, to express the realpolitik of his present, works for the director as a subtext, enlarging the meaning of subsequent stage adaptations which place the same passage in another historical period. An example would be the staging of the scene where Macduffo’s army approaches for the final confrontation in Testori’s play. La Stria suggests that Macbetto and Ledi collect their farts in small sacks so that they can be dropped on the enemy by the king of the bats. Although Macbetto objects on the grounds that death loses its redemptive quality if it is reduced to killing at a distance – even more so if it is expressed in words of desecration – the strategy is successful. As a reward, Ledi is ready to accept her husband in the matrimonial bed and celebrate their victory. This plan of hers, however, will never be realised since at this stage Macbetto rebels against the mechanism in which he is trapped, and takes revenge against his wife, thus starting the process of ultimate self-destruction. The 1974 Milan production, and the one in 1978 for the Teatro Eliseo in Rome, both directed by Shammah, both paralleled the depiction of medieval civil war in Macbeth by evoking atmospheres suggestive of the utter ruin brought about by more recent terrorism or civil war. The powerful, apocalyptic image of the huge bat dropping bombs was generally interpreted in the press as a reference to the dropping of the atom bomb which put an end to WWII: ‘Flatulenze mortifere fanno da bomba atomica’, ‘Che cos’`e la bomba atomica? Un rumore ‘‘particolare’’ dell’uomo!’14 I would suggest, however, that it could more topically allude to the controversial and rather more recent Vietnam war, the most dramatic international crisis in those years. The bat could


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stand for one of the big choppers dropping Napalm bombs on the Vietnamese jungle and villages, an image familiar from many war movies. The iconography of the production – in particular, Macbetto’s crown, which resembled that of the Statue of Liberty despite the inverted orientation of its points – certainly allowed for an interpretation in terms of latent hostility to American imperialism and to the notion of ‘exporting’ American freedom to the world at large. With the benefit of hindsight, the 1981 production, videotaped for television broadcasting and again directed by Shammah, seems to me now to contain premonitions of the mass destruction that was to come only too soon in the Balkan wars. In full exploration of the potentialities of the performance, this time the production managed to include, among the possible conflict situations evoked, one belonging to the imminent future, with a clear intent of stating a pacifist political position. The way the director manipulated the mise-en-sc`ene sharpened the perception that man had touched his peak of self-destruction. Although the production’s intended impact on the audience deviated from the author’s prescriptions to some extent, it did not come across as a conflictual, or indeed aberrant, actualisation of the dramatic text. On the contrary, it can be seen as ultimately contributing to the creation of an atmosphere where the full range of the text’s potential meanings could be activated, thereby providing the conditions for the full achievement of Testori’s artistic aims. Similarly, although Testori has taken great liberties with Shakespeare’s text, it can be said that he, too, has brought out a range of potential meanings, to do with war, in its various manifestations, including the battle of the sexes, and ultimately man’s inner conflict, that are also part of Macbeth.

Notes 1. Testori made other attempts at dealing with literary and cultural myths: La monaca di Monza (1967) and I promessi sposi alla prova (1984) were both adapted from Manzoni’s novel The Betrothed, while Sfaust (1990) tackled the myth of Faust. 2. Oliviero Ponte di Pino, ‘Testori 10 anni. Qualche appunto su Testori e su sdisOr`e e I trionfi,’ in Le recensioni di ateatro 2003. ( ropdp/mostranew.asp?num=51&ord=50, accessed 4.12.2006). All translations in this essay are mine. See Pierpaolo Pasolini, ‘Manifesto for a new theatre,’ in Nuovi argomenti 9 (1968), 6–22; Giovanni Testori, ‘Il ventre del teatro’ (The belly of the theatre), in Paragone 29.220/40 (June 1968), 93–107.

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3. Donata Righetti, ‘Testori: L’artista non fa politica,’ interview with G. Testori, Il Giorno 4.10.1974, 3. ‘Si, Il teatro e` l’unico posto dove si puo` tentare di dire la bestemmia che faccia infuriare tutti. Il teatro e` rito religioso, e` sacrificio, immolazione. I greci, gli spagnoli, gli elisabettiani l’avevano capito. Il teatro non deve mai essere didascalico come quello di Brecht, con tutto il rispetto per Brecht. I cattolici hanno inventato la dottrina che serve all’anima, i marxisti quella che serve alla vita, ma l’invito e` lo stesso: venite qui che vi insegno. Il teatro, l’arte devono essere invece esperienze uniche, diverse.’ 4. Cf. Tradition is ‘a category of thought, not a residue of the past’, Michael Schudson, Watergate in American Memory (New York: Basic Books, 1992), 54. The re-enactment of a tradition is ‘a powerful demonstration of the currency of the past in an embodied form’, while the past ‘operates by way of a shifting vector of nostalgia, memory and tradition. The cumulative effect of its historical narratives is recognised as cultural heritage.’ Susan Bennett, Performing Nostalgia. Shifting Shakespeare and the Contemporary Past (London: Routledge, 1996), 15, 17. 5. Peter Holbrook, unpublished conference paper. 6. Alan Sinfield, Cultural Politics – Queer Reading (London: Routledge, 1994), 4. 7. Giovanni Testori, Macbetto, in Giovanni Testori. OPERE 1965–1977, a cura di Fulvio Panzeri, introduzione di Giovanni Raboni (Milano: Bompiani, 1997), 1229–1322. 8. Mariangela Tempera, ‘Macbeth Revisited: Verdi, Testori, Bene,’ in M. C. Cavecchi and M. Tempera (eds), EuroSHAKESPEAREs: Exploring Cultural Practice in an International Context (Bologna: COTEPRA, 2002), 228–43; 236. 9. Righetti, ‘Testori: L’artista non fa politica,’ 3. ‘Dire le cose che non si possono dire. Lacerare il ‘‘non licet’’. Urlare quello che nessuno, n´e la Chiesa, n´e i borghesi, n´e i poveri vogliono ascoltare: la cosa scomoda. Non sempre so cos’`e, ma so dove cercarla, al di l`a dei veli che non sono mai stati strappati.’ 10. Testori is distant, however, from the ironic stratification of dialects and jargons through which Gadda interprets and reproduces the changeable, many-faceted quality of reality. 11. On language and the relevance of paintings for Testori’s work, see Giorgio Taffon, Lo scrivano, gli scarrozzanti, i templi: Giovanni Testori e il teatro (Roma: Bulzoni, 1997). 12. Giorgio Galli, Storia del partito armato 1968–1982 (Milano: Rizzoli, 1986), gives a useful overview of the tensions of the period. 13. Righetti, ‘Testori: L’artista non fa politica,’ 3. Testori names the most important representatives of the class struggle in Italy at that time: Gianni Agnelli was a leading industrialist and chairman of FIAT; Giorgio Almirante was the leader of the MSI (Movimento Sociale Italiano), the right-wing political Party. The Unions here represent left-wing forces and concepts, while the ‘ruling class’ denotes the coalition government led by the Christian Democrats that had held the balance of power in Parliament since the end of World War II. 14. La Notte, 22.10.1974; La Notte, 28.09.1974.

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Part IV War Time Interpretations

‘What would you have me do? Go to the wars would you?’ (Pericles 4.6.181)

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14 The Nightmare of Indifference: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 121 and the War in Former Yugoslavia Ivan Lupi´c

On 18 August 1991, a Croatian translation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 121, ‘Tis better to be vile then vile esteemed’, was published in Veˇcernji list, one of the most widely read Yugoslav national daily newspapers in Croatia. Croatia was still just one among the six federal republics that had constituted Yugoslavia in the settlement after World War II, although it had declared independence two months earlier on 25 June.1 This translation represents a significant aberration in the reception history of Shakespearean texts in Croatia, especially of Shakespeare’s ‘non-dramatic verse’. Shakespeare’s sonnets are translated much more often than the other poems. Normally, translations would be first published in selection in a literary journal. If they pass the test of that most critical segment of the public, they find their way into a book. The translation of this particular sonnet, although later included in a book as part of the complete sequence, first appeared in a daily newspaper at a time when the bleak reality of war was becoming obvious. A week later, Vukovar, a city in Eastern Croatia, near the Serbian border, was attacked by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). In this chapter, I am attempting to describe this perhaps obscure translation of a single sonnet in time of catastrophic war in order to try and understand what happens when a canonical Shakespeare text is framed by other ‘texts’: metatexts (critical glosses, explanations and interpretations), visual texts (illustrations and especially cover illustrations), contexts (both in and outside the sequence), and intertexts (translations and adaptations, both intended and unintended); in a word, its ‘transtextual’ frames.2 183


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Text and context Because of its compressed form, the sonnet is always more susceptible to contextual interpretation, more easily embraced, surrounded and finally determined by other texts. The contiguities of text and context play a central role in our reading of the sequence since the sonnets almost always come combined with other texts. Such contextual affiliations affect their identity or their semantic potential, thus constantly reminding us that ‘all the subsequent textual constitutions which the work undergoes in its historical passages’ matter.3 The particular translation of Sonnet 121 with which I am concerned was published in the ‘tjedni prilog za kulturu i umjetnost’ (weekly supplement for culture and art), inserted in the middle of the newspaper (17–24) and entitled ‘Hrvatski rukopis’ which means ‘Croatian Hand’ (in the sense of handwriting). But the phrase also suggests a direct, almost personal, involvement in what is being written, an expression of what the ‘Croatian Body’ – body politic as much as anything else – feels. The word ‘rukopis’, however, is ambiguous because it denotes both ‘handwriting’ and that for which the Latin equivalent of ‘handwriting’ is used in English: manuscript (see Figure 14.1). Some readers may detect an irony in the placement of Sonnet 121 in this section of the paper. In short, it could be seen as almost parodying (or unconsciously reproducing) what the culture of the manuscript does: the classical text is enveloped in more text, it nestles inside other texts, usually at the centre of the page. Here, however, the text is pushed to the margins and at the same time, as I shall explain later, is embraced by a larger prose text whose arguments, though not explicitly, seek to be legitimised by the short canonical piece. What makes it additionally ironic is of course the term ‘supplement’, which I offer as a tentative translation of ‘prilog’. In the eighteenth century Shakespeare’s poems achieved canonical status via a supplement: Malone’s supplement to the edition of Shakespeare’s complete works by Johnson and Steevens. Here, by contrast, the ‘supplement’ is authorised via one of these very poems. This translation of Sonnet 121 seems to mimic the reception history of the sonnets in Anglo-American cultures. Shakespeare’s sonnets have almost always been read in terms of other texts: notoriously, for instance, in terms of Malone’s metatext, i.e. the note he appends in his edition to the dedication from the 1609 volume, where he claims: ‘To this person, whoever he was, one hundred and twenty six of the following poems are addressed; the remaining twenty-eight are addressed to a lady.’ This is the inception of the stories that have dominated the reception of

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Figure 14.1 Ve˘cernji list, 18 August 1991. Reproduced by kind permission of Ve˘cernji list.

Shakespeare’s sonnets up to our day. They feature the ‘Young Man’, the ‘Rival Poet’, and the ‘Dark Lady’ as natural givens rather than products of the critical imagination. Such narratives about the sonnets are important because they repeatedly stress the need to set a frame within which


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a sonnet or the whole sequence is then read. The difficult dedication of Shake-speares Sonnets, perhaps the most puzzling paratext ever to be found in connection with any Shakespearean edition, is just another important instance of a liminal device that influences interpretation. These examples participate in the common pursuit of establishing a contextual frame within which a particular poem is interpreted. Such critical strategies can be related to the conventions of the critical apparatus that since the eighteenth century has become inseparable from the idea of a serious edition of Shakespeare. Although this apparatus was originally intended to protect Shakespeare ‘from what Malone termed ‘‘modern sophistications and foreign admixtures’’ ’, it simultaneously helped to shape the text itself as the immediate object of critical investigation and to predispose ‘the reader to specific modes of reading and understanding’.4 The same kind of logic governs other relationships into which the textual object enters: for instance the broader context of the sonnet sequence or the specific situation or eventfulness of the translation under discussion. Such an expressly contextual mode of reading is a very lively strand of modern sonnets criticism without the appraisal of which it is difficult to say anything sensible about either individual sonnets or the sequence as a whole. It will, for example, be crucial for the interpretation of Sonnet 121 whether the text is read in connection with other texts (for example other, neighbouring sonnets from the sequence or sonnets further removed spatially but resonating with similar phrasing or theme), or whether its significance is established in isolation.

Previous critical and contextual approaches to Sonnet 121 To Joseph Pequigney, for example, the interpretive context is the sequence, and the interpretation of Sonnet 121 depends on how the meaning of the preceding sonnets is construed. He claims that in Sonnet 121 the speaker ‘justifies the homoerotic component of his bisexual orientation against adverse critics’, and points out that ‘the text is replete with words of sexual import, with ‘‘pleasure,’’ ‘‘false,’’ ‘‘adulterate,’’ ‘‘sportive,’’ ‘‘blood,’’ and ‘‘frailty’’ all given pertinent bawdy glosses by Partridge’.5 For him therefore ‘[a]ny mystery about what form the sexuality takes should be dispelled once the sonnet is viewed in its proper contexts: the adjacent sonnets and Part I as a whole’.

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Each and every one of the hundred twenty poems before Sonnet 121, as well as the five that follow it in Part I, deals, without exception, with the protagonist’s preoccupation with the youth. How starkly anomalous Sonnet 121 would be if it treated of something else, as it would if the persona were defending his own carnal relations with anyone, or ones, other than the friend, and with whom, in that case, the sonnet would be uniquely unconcerned. It does not address him, but the sonnets at either side do; and by doing so they make it even more improbable that he is, in the interval, forgotten. (Pequigney, 99) Pequigney insists on the contexts in his more recent contributions too. For instance, in connection with Sonnet 73 he opposes his approach to that of the anthologists, who ‘almost invariably print it out of context, unyoked by violence from its neighbors, and they thereby deprive it of its connective function and a dimension of its meaning’.6 That dimension of meaning which seems to interest Pequigney the most is again ‘the homoerotic character of the love exchanged between the older and the younger friend’ and in order for it to be revealed the entire sequence must be taken into account. This is diametrically opposed to the formerly dominant practice of viewing the sonnets as isolated artefacts, an approach which still seems to be espoused by Harold Bloom, who sees them as ‘a rough series of isolated splendours’ and claims that ‘[t]he aesthetic strength of the Sonnets has little to do with their appearance in a sequence, as more seems to be lost than gained when we read them straight through in order’.7 Reading the sonnets as a sequence is not really equal to reading them ‘straight through in order’; the complex contextual relationships are not ‘orderly’ in this sense. Though Pequigney’s arguments are often very convincing and painstakingly corroborated by frequent reference to the sonnets, his final conclusion about Sonnet 121 is disarming in its readerly ardour: it takes the form of an almost ecstatic exclamation reclaiming Shakespeare as a figure that ‘goes beyond Freud’ and defends ‘homosexuality’ in Biblical tones: ‘No, I am that I am’.8 It is mainly thanks to the influence of Pequigney’s conclusions that Sonnet 121 came to be included in The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature, where the sonnets are, naturally, seen as exploring a passionate affair (involving a physical relationship) between (two) men. The comment on the sonnet that interests us here is revealing: ‘However, the affair has had one vital effect on the poet,


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and that is to allow him to defend without care of consequence his own actions and the course of his desire. . . . He affirms ‘‘I am that I am.’’ ’9 It has, however, been suggested that any reduction of this difficult sonnet (as it is frequently described) to ‘a single theme, be it reputation, sexuality or self-knowledge, can be dismissed as oversimplification’.10 The adjective ‘difficult’ is often coupled with another: ‘major’. G. Wilson Knight, for instance, describes Sonnet 121 as both ‘crucial’ and ‘difficult’. In his discussion of ‘the integration pattern’ in Shakespeare’s sonnets he sees ‘some kind of beyond-good-and-evil claim’ asserted in Sonnet 121, thereby moving not just beyond Freud, as is the case with Pequigney, but apparently beyond Nietzsche too. Further, Wilson Knight seems to offer an odd fusion of what could be called the contextual approach (represented by Pequigney) and the isolated splendour approach (epitomised by Bloom), when he writes: ‘Whatever we think of the story, in so far as there is one, there flowers from its soil some of the world’s greatest love-poetry. From this nettle-bed of vice, we pluck the flower, genius.’11 In his own twenty-pages-long approach to this sonnet David K. Weiser concentrates on ‘the gap between ‘‘I’’ and ‘‘they’’ ’, and recognises antithesis as the figure that pervades the entire sonnet – something that Helen Vendler suggestively describes as ‘an amazing counterdance’. This contrast between ‘I’ and ‘they’, this dominant antithetical pattern, Weiser argues, is thematically relevant since it establishes a moral opposition in which the speaker claims moral superiority.12 The sonnet’s formal affinity with the Bible, antithetical structure being ‘a central feature of Biblical style’, will, to Weiser’s mind, further reinforce similarities with the central thematic preoccupation of Biblical texts: their ‘concern with moral judgment’. The evaluative terms found in this sonnet are recognised as ‘of distinctively Biblical origin’. Occasionally resorting to the surrounding sonnets he constructs an interpretation significantly different from Pequigney’s, enabling us thus to realise once again that reading a particular sonnet in terms of its neighbours does not mean coming up with the same interpretation. It is true that in his opinion, too, ‘the sonnets adjacent to 121 remind us [that] the speaker has sacrificed his good name for the approbation of his beloved’. But his conclusion that ‘Shakespeare’s purpose was not to challenge traditional morality but to present himself (or an aspect of himself) favourably in its light’ and to ‘achieve self-discovery through the wider recognition of moral law’ is not reconcilable with the Shakespeare who goes beyond Freud and Nietzsche exclaiming: ‘I am that I am’.13 Even when read as a sequence,

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the sonnets, although not only the sonnets, motivate different critics to construct different, even fundamentally opposed narratives.

The Croatian translation in context Here is the translation as it appears in Veˇcernji list, together with my transcription of the 1609 quarto text:14 Bolje biti zao nego na zlu glasu Kad te, premda nisi, kleve´cu da jesi; I cˇestit uˇzitak mre uz takav rasud Po tudem videnju, ne po naˇsoj svijesti. ¯ ¯ Jer zaˇsto bi tude ¯ preljubne i zlobne Oˇci pozdravljale obijest krvi moje? Il zaˇsto mi krhkost krhkiji uhode, Pa ˇsto dobrim smatram zlim hotice broje? Ne, ja sam ˇsto jesam, a onaj ˇsto cilja Na zlodjela moja, samo svoja zbere; Dok su oni krivi, moˇzda prav sam zbilja, Nek mi cˇine smradnim mislima ne mjere; Osim ako jad ne potvrduju op´ci – ¯ Svi su ljudi zli i kraljuju u zlo´ci.

Tis better to be vile then vile esteemed, When not to be, receiues reproach of being, And the iust pleasure lost, which is so deemed, Not by our feeling, but by others seeing. For why should others false adulterat eyes Giue salutation to my sportiue blood? Or on my frailties why are frailer spies; Which in their wils count bad what I think good? Noe, I am that I am, and they that leuell At my abuses, reckon vp their owne, I may be straight though they them-selues be beuel By their rancke thoughtes, my deedes must not be shown Vnlesse this generall euill they maintaine, All men are bad and in their badnesse raigne.

The author of the translation is Mate Maras, a prolific Croatian translator well known for his insistence on using the twelve-syllable line in his translations of the sonnets (and Shakespeare’s verse in general) rather than the iambically patterned hendecasyllable which more or less established itself as the norm for Croatian verse translations of Shakespeare. The expansion of the line is motivated by the desire to make the verse more natural, colloquial and more readily intelligible. The translation of Sonnet 121 represents, in this respect, a remarkable achievement. In it, the opposition between ‘I’ and ‘they’ receives strong emphasis and, save for two instances, the effect is comparable to what is found in the English version. These two significant differences of effect concern the problematic ‘I am that I am’ and the verb ‘maintain’ from the concluding couplet. The translation makes the Biblical reference less explicit by interpreting ‘that’ as ‘what’: ‘I am what I am’, thus drawing attention to ‘what’ rather than ‘who’ the speaker is. Instead of ‘maintain’ we find, interestingly, the verb ‘confirm’; its deployment in the conclusion of the sonnet leaves readers with the impression that ‘all men’ are indeed bad and that the conditional nature of this general statement signalled by the crucial ‘unless’ is less ambiguous than it may at first appear. This point will prove important when the sonnet is more closely examined in relation to the texts that encompass it.


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When we look at the material context of this translation within the newspaper, the first thing we notice is that it is equipped with an interpretative note provided by the translator. Since it is in many ways typical of some traditional beliefs about Shakespeare’s sonnets, it is worth quoting in full: Shakespeare’s sonnets are a lyric diary without dates and a drama of his personal life without a formal structure. The cruel flow of time and the decay of beauty are constant concerns of these pearl-like lines, with wise remarks about the loveliness of nature and the harmony of the universe, about many-faced evil and human ingratitude, about countless social injustices – all strung along in passing. But the most deeply engraved is the sorrow for the irrecoverable loss of ever-elusive youth. This biographical sonnet is one of the most difficult and mysterious of Shakespeare’s poems. Some think that in it the poet says what he thinks about his own morality (or about his undistinguished profession of actor; or his friend with whom he identifies). Honestly and honourably he entertains a high opinion of himself because he knows himself too well; but he also knows others too well to subject himself or his pleasures (or his poor vocation in the theatre where the Puritans first laugh during the performance only to scold him later; or the beloved young man) to their judgment. William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he also died in 1616. His ashes lie in Holy Trinity Church, and his verse in the heart of the whole world.15 The note functions as the first and most immediate context among the many that relate to and surround Sonnet 121 in this specific textual environment. It should be noticed right away that although the sonnet itself makes no direct or even indirect mention of any ‘friend’ of the ‘poet’, the note rests entirely on what is not ‘in’ the sonnet but what is regularly brought to bear on its meanings from its ‘original’ contextual situations. Why should the sequence figure so prominently in a note appended to a translation of an isolated sonnet and how is one to reconcile the insignificant position given to the sonnet on the page and in the newspaper with the grand claims for Shakespeare’s omnipresence and immortality? This and other questions, as for instance the difficulty of explaining the co-existence of ‘his pleasures’ and ‘the beloved young man’ while avoiding any explicit sexual reference, are sooner or later bound to enter the reader’s mind. The difficulty is compounded by the presence of the

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illustrations on the page where the sonnet is printed, which feature two women. One is given a very prominent position above the sonnet. The other, surprisingly, finds herself under the very title ‘SONET 121’, thus introducing additional confusion of gender into the reading process. Similar drawings appear throughout the supplement, very often depicting the female body in a suggestively erotic posture and half undressed (as for instance on the first page).

Writing and war Such contexts suggestive of heterosexual desire are overshadowed, however, by the dominant semantic designs of the network of discourses spread across the issue of the newspaper where Sonnet 121 is embedded. If anywhere, ‘the embeddedness of cultural objects in the contingencies of history’16 is evident here. The specific ideological and cultural moment intrudes on the reader from the front page on, constantly and persistently refusing to be ignored. The tanks on the front page as well as the headline ‘New Aggression Against Croatia’, reporting a massacre in Bjelovac, fierce fights around Oku˘cani, the death of a news reporter, disillusionment about the possibility of peace, the request that recruits be released from the JNA (the otherwise largely Serbian Yugoslav People’s Army) – all testify to what necessarily preoccupied everybody most. Crime, slaughter, acts of violence and death constantly intermingle with appeals for a ceasefire and a truce, but without much hope. The extremities of war and peace, in the literal sense, here intermix somewhat in the fashion of the typical scenario found in early modern poetry of love, where war and peace are always at strife, always involved in a combat for the same patch of space – be it the cheek suffused with red and white, passion and virtue, or some other, more explicit opposition between immoral and moral. The text that most immediately envelops and semantically contaminates the translation of Sonnet 121 on this page explicitly links the war with writing. Written by Dubravko Horvati´c and entitled ‘The Praise of Hatred’ (‘Hvalospjevi mrˇznji’), it is also furnished with a strapline offering the equation ‘Serbian writers – war criminals’ (‘Srpski pisci – ratni zloˇcinci’). This article deals more directly than any other around the sonnet with the idea of ‘being vile’ and ‘vile esteemed’. Its primary interest is the question of identity, with the insistence on saying ‘I am that I am’ and with representing ‘others’ and their ‘adulterat eyes’ (which in Shakespeare, as we know, can always mean both ‘eyes’ and the plural of ‘I’). The subject of Horvati´c’s discussion (and Horvatic himself is a


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‘poet, prose writer and essayist’)17 is the eternal one of the sovereignty and autonomy of the Croatian language and its literary traditions, a question that would continue to be argued ad nauseam throughout the 1990s. Another prominent concern of his piece is with what is ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’. Certain leading Serbian intellectuals are seen here as, though not perhaps committing crimes themselves, still inciting others to crimes and hence aiding the aggression against everything that is Croatian. It is worth returning, at this point, to the zeugmatic statement with which the translator of the sonnet closes his note: ‘His [i.e. Shakespeare’s] ashes lie in Holy Trinity Church, and his verse in the heart of the whole world.’ Why would these particular lines, and especially their translation, repose in the heart of the whole world? That they should do so is expected to be taken without question. This is not the first nor will it be the last time that the word ‘Shakespeare’ is given an almost religious aura. As the priest and the congregation who before the reading from the Gospels (in the Catholic ritual at least) make marks on the forehead, the lips and the heart, where the Word is intended to repose, so Shakespeare’s words, we are told, repose in the heart of humanity like the words of the litany or a public prayer. Right below the note, the long text on Serbian intellectuals repeats not just the words of the translator and his final recourse to humanity – to the heart of the whole world, but also the words that appear right above the translator’s note, in the concluding lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 121, ‘confirming’ for the third time that ‘all men are bad’: ‘They are all equal. The only difference is that some of them incite people to commit crimes, others order the crimes to be committed, and still others commit them. Against humanity.’18 This triple division that ends in sameness is the third of the three frames that merge into a single, forceful statement: all men are bad, where ‘all’ means, necessarily, ‘the others’. Or, in the words of one of the interpreters of Shakespeare’s sonnets: [T]he couplet has further impact by providing a dismaying alternative community, one which would not be moved by the rest of the sonnet because its members lack the internalized gaze of a shaming authority and thus lack shame. Such a community would be one in which ‘All men are bad, and in their badness reign’; . . . This alternative community is a version of the nightmare of no difference . . .19 There is not much more to be said, although it may be expected that the historicity of my own position and the specificity of the ‘eye’ that looks and reads would require me to offer some final, conclusive

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comment. This actual hand and the actual ‘eye’ are, on the contrary, factors that force me away from the argument and demand to be heard in a different key. As I am looking at this newspaper now, confronted with the sonnet once again, one-to-one, something painful stirs within me: it troubles me and refuses to speak, I am torn by the conflict that exists ‘between experience and any possible language’.20 In 1991 I was in Bosnia, the country where I soon witnessed the horrible war and where, in some form, the news I am now reading in this newspaper initially reached me. I remember now how important the release of the recruits seemed then to me and my family, how a person very close to me was waiting to be called up by the JNA, then the only official ‘army’, and how everybody dreaded it. Does it matter for the reading of this sonnet that his death coincided with the formal beginning of my studies of English literature and that other tragedies, personal no doubt and mine, had already happened? Can these experiences, re-membered and therefore textual, play a significant part in the con-texts of the sonnets? Set beside this personal history, the sonnets for me fade in importance. Yet they will never be able to escape the personal histories of their readers, for they themselves always invite readers to breathe them and give them new life – as in Sonnet 18 and its numeric counterpart 81, to take examples that first come to mind. So much life has been breathed into these poems, and so much sorrow; it has been rightly noted, though in a somewhat different context, that they deal more eloquently with the painful than the pleasurable aspects of love.21 To sacrifice this intimate dimension often at the heart of the sonnets may mean to achieve ‘the wider recognition’. But such wider recognition matters little when, to reverse the propositions of Sonnet 121, ‘to be’ must always mean ‘not to be’. The extent to which contexts can rightfully be seen as constitutive of the meaning of ‘texts’ will always remain an open question. One insight which should by no means be left hastily behind is that contexts are and will remain important. That different cultural contexts ought also to remain equally important in such Shakespearean constitutions is another point that seems still to be in need of justification. Hence the contextual situation of the Yugoslav war and this little Shakespeare poem ‘Croatianed’ and forced into the page like an embarrassing afterthought are comparable to the contextual situations of what some like to call Shakespeare’s ‘homeland and his native tongue’,22 and they therefore require equal treatment. What is more, the brutal realities of the war I witnessed will always, against my will, remain deeply imprinted in my memory. What is


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particular and individual hurts more, and this preoccupation with particularity, individuality, the cruel idiosyncratic anecdote of history and the significant moment of the past may have marked this discussion to a degree that some readers might find irritating. We judge what is significant, it is true, and we choose which past to single out for special attention. Yet I want it to be understood that such a procedure and the necessary choice it imposes are not intended as an irresponsible collapsing of ‘the great variety of readers’ into a single reader. Quite the contrary: my responsibility could hardly anywhere be greater than it is here since my intention is to remind that the great variety of readers always consists of individual, particular readers whose voices are also to be taken as crooked but indispensable ciphers in the great ‘accompt’ if the great variety is not to become great uniformity. It is said of books that they have their fates: they are hurt by time, destroyed or deformed by history. The texts these books contain seem to exist in a different, more malleable and more persistent mode. Still, it is essential that their identity, like that of their readers, whatever we imagine it to be or however we decide to circumscribe or expand it, should remain distinct.

Notes 1. For basic information about Veˇcernji list and other newspapers of the time see Robert Stallaerts and Jeannine Laurens, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Croatia (Lanham and London: Scarecrow Press, 1995). 2. Metatextuality is inherent in most modern critical editions of the sonnets, especially those which print their commentary on the same or on the neighbouring page, thereby unwittingly ‘fusing exegetical reading and canonical text together’. See Wolfgang Iser, The Range of Interpretation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 31. See Richard Macksey’s foreword to G´erard Genette’s Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), esp. xviii–xix, for a useful outline of the ‘general poetics of transtextuality’. 3. Jerome J. McGann, The Textual Condition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 62. 4. Margreta de Grazia, Shakespeare Verbatim: The Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 10–11. 5. Joseph Pequigney, Such is My Love: A Study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1985). 6. Joseph Pequigney, ‘Sonnets 71–74: Texts and Contexts,’ in Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Critical Essays, ed. James Schiffer (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 2000), 285. 7. Harold Bloom (ed.), Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Modern Critical Interpretations (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987), 1.

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8. Pequigney, Such is My Love, 100, 101. 9. Byrne R. S. Fone (ed.), The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature: Readings from Western Antiquity to the Present Day (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 190. 10. David K. Weiser, ‘Theme and Structure in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 121,’ Studies in Philology 75 (1978), 144. Sexuality in relation to Sonnet 121 will in different modern editions of the sonnets be present to different degrees. It plays a prominent part in Colin Burrow’s glosses (The Complete Sonnets and Poems [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002]): for him, vile ‘can carry a charge of sexual sin’; frail ‘implies weakness and susceptibility to passions, especially to sexual desires’; rank in line 12 is primarily ‘sexually depraved’ and only secondarily ‘overabundant to the point of decay’ (622). G. Blakemore Evans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 233–4) also pays considerable attention to ‘sexual enjoyment’, and an older but still often quoted edition is similarly explicit about ‘sexual vitality’ (W. G. Ingram and Theodore Redpath (eds), Shakespeare’s Sonnets [London: University of London Press, 1964], 278). Katherine Duncan-Jones (Shakespeare’s Sonnets [London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1997]) approaches the matter in a much more tentative manner: to her the sonnet is ‘a reflection on false reputation, and on the corrupted judgements of those who disseminate damaging rumours about the speaker’ (352), while the only mention of ‘sexual’ is not only bracketed but also followed by a question mark when so deemed in line 3 is glossed as ‘judged to be (sexual?) pleasure’ (352). 11. G. Wilson Knight, The Mutual Flame: On Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnets’ and ‘The Phoenix and the Turtle’ (London: Methuen, 1955; reprinted 1962), 49, 22. 12. David K. Weiser, ‘Theme and Structure,’ 148–51; Helen Vendler, The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1997), 514. 13. David K. Weiser, ‘Theme and Structure,’ 150–2, 160–1, 153–4. 14. See Veˇcernji list 35 (18.08.1991), 22. The same translation was reproduced when the whole sequence was published in book form two years later; see William Shakespeare, The Sonnets, translation, foreword and commentary by Mate Maras (Zagreb: Croatian P. E. N. Centre, 1993). The quarto text is quoted from William Shakespeare, Sonnets 1609, A Scolar Press Facsimile (Menston: Scolar Press, 1968). 15. Veˇcernji list 35 (18.08.1991), 22. All translations from Croatian in this paper are mine. I have endeavoured to reproduce as much of the syntactical and lexical peculiarity of Maras’s prose as possible. 16. Stephen J. Greenblatt, Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture (New York and London: Routledge, 1990), 164. 17. Stallaerts and Laurens, 110. 18. Dubravko Horvati´c, ‘Hvalospjevi mrˇznji’, Veˇcernji list 35 (18.08.1991), 22. 19. Lars Engle, ‘ ‘‘I am that I am’’: Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the Economy of Shame,’ Shakespeare Sonnets: Critical Essays, 195. 20. Rainer Emig, ‘In Parenthesis: The Subject at War,’ Language and the Subject, ed. Karl Simms, Critical Studies, Vol. 9 (Amsterdam and Atlanta, Georgia: Rodopi, 1997), 220.


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21. Cf. Bruce R. Smith, ‘Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the History of Sexuality: A Reception History,’ A Companion to Shakespeare, Volume IV: The Poems, Problem Comedies, Late Plays, ed. Richard Dutton and Jean Howard (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2003), 7. 22. Dennis Kennedy, ‘Shakespeare Worldwide,’ The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare, ed. Margreta de Grazia and Stanley Wells (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 251.

15 Whose ‘Triumph’? The Taming of the Shrew in Berlin during World War II1 Zolt´an M´arkus

The wonderful thing about nature and providence is that no conflict between the sexes can occur as long as each party performs the function prescribed for it by nature. (Adolf Hitler)2

A surprising favourite: The Shrew in Nazi Berlin When plays by British playwrights were banned in the Third Reich in September 1939, Shakespeare’s works were granted an exception. Reichsdramaturg Rainer Schl¨ osser argued that Shakespeare in German translation was not an enemy author but a ‘German classic’.3 Although Schl¨ osser’s statement might appear somewhat odd today, it did not originate from a radically new National Socialist take on Shakespeare. Rather, it relied on a long-established German tradition, eloquently epitomised by Gerhart Hauptmann’s famous lines from the previous war: ‘There is not a people, not even the English, that would have as much right to claim Shakespeare as the Germans. Shakespeare’s characters are part of our world; his soul became one with ours; and if it is in England that he was born and buried, Germany is the country where he truly lives.’4 In times of international conflict, this German, even Nordic, Shakespeare could thus be deployed as a token of German genius and cultural superiority. To theatre audiences of the Third Reich, this ‘German classic’ Shakespeare was presented primarily as an author of comedies. During the National Socialist era of 1933–45, the ten most frequently produced Shakespeare plays in Germany, in descending order of the number of productions, were: Twelfth Night; The Taming of the Shrew; Hamlet; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Much Ado about Nothing; The Comedy 197


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of Errors; As You Like It; Romeo and Juliet; The Merchant of Venice; and Othello. Between 1929 and 1933, before the National Socialists took power, this ‘top ten list’ of Shakespeare plays had looked liked this: Twelfth Night; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Merchant of Venice; Hamlet; The Taming of the Shrew; Much Ado about Nothing; Julius Caesar; As You Like It; Othello; and Romeo and Juliet.5 In general, therefore, Shakespeare’s comedies became even more popular during the Third Reich than they had been before. They were relatively safe choices politically, while promising high-quality popular entertainment and offering comic diversion and relief in increasingly stressful times. As theatre historian Wolfgang Stroedel put it in 1938, Shakespeare’s most popular comedies were ‘irrepressible, a spring of inexhaustible joy. In fabulous, romanticmelancholy or coarsely comical veins, they strike a cheerful chord of life and, through their gratifying major roles, they prove to be greatly successful time after time.’6 Twelfth Night and The Shrew became the two most frequently staged Shakespeare plays. No doubt they do share those ‘fabulous, romantic-melancholy and coarsely comical’ elements, but they also share scenes of humiliation and indoctrination which audience members have sometimes found disconcerting or even brutal. Moreover, both plays are preoccupied by the problem of gender identity – a reverberating issue in the increasingly polarised and radicalised society of the Third Reich. Between 1933 and 1944, Berlin saw eight productions of The Shrew and seven of Twelfth Night.7 In this study, I shall focus on three wartime productions of The Shrew in the German capital: those at the J¨ udischer Kulturbund (1940), the Deutsches Theater (1941), and the Staatliches Schauspielhaus am Gendarmenmarkt (1942).8 It is intriguing that this theatrical comedy of the war of the sexes seemed so relevant in the German wartime cultural and political context, whereas in other European cities, it appears to have been performed less frequently. In London, for instance, it had just over thirty performances in total between September 1939 and May 1945,9 whereas the three Berlin productions were played nearly a hundred times over the same period.10 The Shrew’s popularity on the stages of National Socialist Germany and its capital ran against German scholarly opinion, which frequently disapproved of its gracelessly excessive rough-and-tumble qualities. Professor Paul Meißner, for example, found it ‘a downright farce’ and claimed that ‘Petruccio’s violent treatment of Katherine is coarse theatre meant for a nosy crowd.’11 Another author writing on ‘Shakespeare’s views on religion and morality, the state and the people’ remarked that Petruccio’s ‘brutal cure of deterrence . . . certainly appears to our current

Zolt´an M´arkus


taste as rough and offensive’.12 Theatre producers and their reviewers in Berlin, however, considered the play’s farcical brutality and boisterous carnival atmosphere to be great assets. They saw them as folk-like (‘volkst¨ umlich’) – an adjective that gained high propagandistic purchase in the Third Reich. A reviewer of an open-air production in 1935 emphasised that ‘of all Shakespearean comedies probably this is the most folk-like’. Identifying ‘the servants’ buffoonery, all the disguises and intrigues, and, above all’, what he called ‘the simple and hearty morality’ of the play as ‘the most ancient and valuable possession [‘‘Urgut’’] of an art that originates from, and is fuelled by, the people’, he found it ‘especially nice and proper’ that this particular play had been picked for reintroducing folk-like ‘market plays’ in Berlin.13 According to this reviewer, the most fitting venue for performing The Shrew was not an artsy theatre building but the folksy open-air stage or the marketplace. Indeed, when the play was staged in pre-war Berlin, it was either in the arena-like Theater des Volkes in front of thousands of spectators (1935), or as a burlesque Wild West show in which Petruccio was fitted out with a cowboy hat, pistol, and lasso (Berliner Volksb¨ uhne, 1939). As a reviewer of this latter production observed, ‘every production of The Shrew demonstrates . . . the irrepressible vivacity of Shakespeare’s play’. It seemed to him ‘as if Katherine’s taming by Petruccio had become more familiar today, and today’s youth no longer raised accusations against the play’s boorishness’.14 In different ways the same tendencies were registered by other reviewers of the 1939 Volksb¨ uhne production when one of them labelled the play a ‘circus-like satyr-play’,15 whereas another described Petruccio’s treatment of Katherine as the ‘taming of a prickly cat’.16 As such, it was the most popular Shakespeare play in National Socialist Berlin.

‘Control’ and ‘restraint’: J¨ udischer Kulturbund, 1940 The three wartime productions that I would like to discuss here were significantly different from these pre-war predecessors. In fact, The Shrew in the J¨ udischer Kulturbund (first night: 2 March 1940; dir. Fritz Wisten) was very different – for various reasons. Much has been written about the history of the Kulturbund and its theatre in Berlin,17 but its fascination with Shakespeare has not yet been addressed in detail. In his impressive account of Shakespeare on the twentieth-century German stage, Wilhelm Hortmann mentions that ‘six Shakespeare productions’ were ‘put on by the Kulturbund during its term of life from 1933 to 1941’, but these, he adds, ‘should not be judged primarily on artistic merits’ and


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‘have to be seen first of all as a determined staking of claims in the German theatrical heritage, even if non-Jewish Germans were forbidden to attend.’18 What Hortmann does not discuss, however, is that Shakespeare was the most popular playwright in the Kulturbund and, apart from the two flagship theatres, no other theatre in Berlin produced six different Shakespeare plays between 1933 and 1941. Obviously, Shakespeare proved to be the most appropriate vehicle for ‘staking claims in the German theatrical heritage’. Moreover, by preserving and adhering to a tradition that was officially banned from German cultural life (e.g. the legacy of Reinhardt or Mendelssohn), the Kulturbund maintained a cultural tradition that was forbidden for the rest of the city. On 9 February 1940, a brief article in the J¨udisches Nachrichtenblatt announced that the J¨ udischer Kulturbund was continuing its work and was now rehearsing Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, which was to open on 17 February. The article is somewhat defensive about the choice of the play and enlists Shakespeare’s genius as the guarantor of high-quality entertainment. It admits that the play ‘for a classical piece might seem almost too light, at first glance at least’, but that could be an advantage as well, since this way even those audience members ‘who have a prejudice against heavy fare on the stage will be pleasantly surprised’. What is crucial, however, is that ‘as light as this comedy might seem at first, its every line still breathes Shakespeare’s spirit, humour, wit, and attitude’.19 It would have been difficult to find more fervent supporters of the Shakespeare Myth in the Reichshauptstadt than the members of the J¨ udischer Kulturbund. Yet historical events prevented the first night of The Shrew from taking place on the announced date. At the beginning of the same week for which the theatrical opening of the play was scheduled, despite all previous promises from the authorities that no such measures would be taken, the first group of German Jews was rounded up and deported to Poland. As a memorandum of a meeting between the leaders of the Kulturbund, Fritz Wisten and Martin Brasch, and their immediate censor, Erich Kochanowski, bears witness, the Kulturbund protested against the alarming developments by cancelling their theatre performance. ‘Under these circumstances’, Wisten and Brasch stated, ‘we could not accept responsibility for presenting the first night of a Shakespearean comedy at the end of that week during which for the first time an evacuation from the ‘‘Altreich’’ [the old historical territories of Germany] to the ‘‘Generalgouvernments’’ [Nazi officialese for occupied Poland] took place.’20 Herr Kochanowski, with what today appears to be chilling cynicism, assured Wisten and Brasch that he ‘fully appreciated’ their

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decision and ended the meeting with a private discussion with Fritz Wisten, the director of the Kulturbund’s theatre, in which he expressed ‘his wish to pay a visit to the theatre as soon as the performance does take place’. The Kulturbund’s Shrew eventually opened a fortnight later, with Alfred Balthoff playing Petruccio and Steffi Hinzelmann as Katherine. It was an odd production, and not just because it took place at a sinister historical moment in a ghetto theatre where Jews were playing to Jews as well as to Herr Kochanowski and a few of his uniformed friends. The director scrapped the Induction and, due to financial and spatial limitations, produced the play on an almost bare stage, with bright signs appearing at the beginning of each scene to indicate the location. A reviewer tried to defend this minimalist appearance: ‘With this scenic expedient, the director could still invoke the authority of no less a person than Shakespeare himself, who, as is well known, also had to make do . . . with a primitive and fully unadorned stage.’21 The acting style corresponded with the ‘simplicity’ and ‘uncomplicatedness’ of the scenery. The director ‘adhered quite precisely to a median between comedy and farce, deliberately refrained from obvious eccentricities, and particularly avoided the play’s comic element from getting out of hand and degenerating into coarseness’. The actors playing Petruccio and Katherine took heed of the director’s emphasis on restraint. Contrasting Balthoff’s performance with an earlier and now long-forgotten, brutish Petruccio, the reviewer underlined that Balthoff ‘was not the wild athlete, a furious muscle-man, who, with massive sweeping gestures, made his surroundings feel only the force of his fists’, but ‘his widely expected madcap routine showed some restraint’, and ‘even in the wildest outbreaks, he retained a trait of the gentleman, what’s more, that of the cheerful and amiable charmer, about whom it did not seem astonishing at all that the shrewish Kate, despite all the drastic treatment she had undergone, finally succumbed to him’. In the same vein, Steffi Hinzelmann also refrained from playing Kate as a ‘wild Fury Megaera, who can only hit, scold, and rage’. Instead, she was an ‘obstinate, pig-headed person, a spoilt and capricious, overgrown child, who has never met a man before and who, at the sudden appearance of the bold suitor who flattered her vanity, responds first with childish curiosity, then, as usual, with quarrelsome defence, and, in the end, after her pride has been defeated, even with tears’.22 Beside the rambunctious shrew-baiting carnival atmosphere of the Berlin productions mentioned earlier, the Kulturbund’s Shrew was contained and patriarchal.


Shakespeare and War

After the first night, the play was performed seven more times, and a report about the Kulturbund’s activities in 1939–40 states that about 3,900 people saw the show.23 Wilhelm Hortmann is probably right that this production ‘should not be judged primarily on artistic merits’:24 by the spring of 1940, the Kulturbund had become a cultural and existential pariah. As an institution, it became increasingly superfluous for the National Socialist authorities even for propagandistic purposes; its members’ fate was sealed. Yet, from our point of view, it is rather instructive that Fritz Wisten and his company, at a moment of imminent disaster, opted for The Shrew in order to provide fun and diversion to the Kulturbund’s audience, and running against the mainstream theatrical approaches, offered a muted rendition of the play. Katherine was presented as an immature, almost childlike, i.e. rather asexual, character. Perhaps the exaggerated emphasis on containing unruly behaviour resonated with the audience’s desire to take control of their own lives and restore their own dignity. In this sense, Katherine’s taming as the central motif of the play was perhaps less a humiliating measure with which to mould an individual woman to the demands of a male-dominant social structure and more of a drastic rite of passage through which a wider social order might be restored. This production suggested the optimistic conclusion that at the price of personal sacrifices and occasional humiliations some level of personal and social harmony was possible. It is tragically ironic, of course, that at that historical moment, The Shrew as an allegory of social obedience and order could not have carried a more counterproductive, or simply dangerous, message to its audience.

Sexual aggression as ‘role-playing’ and ‘self-defence’: Deutsches Theater, 1941 When a little more than a year later Heinz Hilpert produced The Shrew at the Deutsches Theater (first night: 3 May 1941), he also refrained from presenting it as all-out farce.25 Like Wisten, he left out the Induction scenes. Furthermore, he added a potpourri of Beethoven’s music as accompaniment to the stage action and radically reworked Baudissin’s translation to make the text more compact, swift, and modern. He also cut several lines, including Petruccio’s boast that he comes ‘to wive it wealthily in Padua’ as well as other references to the financial incentives involved in his pursuit of the shrewish Katherine. The cruelty of the taming process was also toned down.26 In all, Hilpert’s textual changes

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served the double purpose of making the text more fitting to his contemporary stage and presenting the protagonists’ conflict in a more humane light. In his review of this production, Paul Fechter mused about the two available paths for staging the main plot of Petruccio’s taming of Katherine: either the burlesque is brought out or the distant and deep meaning, either the fun or the sense that lies behind that, the comedy or the poetry. Simply, only the taming can be played: ‘He kills her in her own humour.’ Or the two characters can be sharply contrasted: the woman, who is shrewish until she meets the man who is a real man; and out of this clash the compromise of love, the common happiness of the natural order of cooperation can grow. According to Fechter, Shakespeare offers ‘the primitiveness as well as the deeper sense, the farce as well as the reflection of life: the theatre has the opportunity to make up its mind this or that way’. After having drawn up this neat although rather simplistic dichotomy, Fechter continues that Hilpert’s approach ‘goes down a third road: it places the outcome of the plot, the two protagonists’ love, at the very beginning, and thus presents Petruccio’s taming job almost as a pedagogical joke rather than a power struggle lurking in the background’.27 In Hilpert’s production, Petruccio and Katherine fell in love at first sight. As another reviewer reported, ‘During the kiss that Petruccio enforces already in their first scene, Katherine slowly raises her slightly trembling arm to the wondrous man, but at the moment when she would embrace the loved one, she composes herself and tears herself away.’28 This lightning-like revelation of love at first sight certainly changes the dynamics of the taming process; as Wilhelm Hortmann observes, ‘what followed was therefore not a real battle of supremacy but the acting out of given role concepts. Their make-believe character being obvious, they could be played to the hilt without giving the slightest offence.’29 In other words, despite the cutting of the induction scene, the taming was staged as a play-within-the-play in which the protagonists acted out stereotypical gender roles. Actor Ewald Balser played Petruccio playing the role of brutish husband, and actress Gisela von Collande played Katherine playing the shrewish wife. Their mutual knowledge that they were just acting prevented them from ‘giving the slightest offence’ either to each other or to a sensitive audience.


Shakespeare and War

This does not mean, however, that Hilpert’s approach was unproblematic, or even recognised. First of all, some audience members clearly did not notice the subtle directorial touch. The critic of the trendsetting National Socialist party organ V¨olkischer Beobachter, for instance, reviewed the production with the blazing title, ‘The Triumph of Masculinity’, and remarked that Hilpert’s radical textual interventions sometimes made his Shrew ‘more rough-and-tumble, folk-like and farcical [‘‘rauhbeiniger, volkst¨ umlicher und possenhafter’’]’ than Baudissin’s romantic translation. Without understanding the underlying reasons, he criticised Balser’s Petruccio for turning ‘from a dowry-hunter into a clown, from a tamer of love into a knave of joie de vivre’.30 Other critics also complained that the director adapted the play so heavily that instead of the struggle between Petruccio and Katherine, they were treated to a struggle between Shakespeare and Hilpert.31 Paul Fechter, however, did notice the directorial sleight of hand and even admitted that ‘the success with the audiences justified Hilpert’s approach’. Fechter noted the ‘restrained and cheerful male superiority’ of Balser’s Petruchio that was ‘downright demanded by Hilpert’s interpretation of the play’ and observed that Petruccio ‘from the very beginning faced Katherine’s intrigues almost like a father’. Following the director’s dramaturgical arrangements, von Collande’s Katherine was ‘more a passively enduring rather than a rebelliously uncontrollable victim’. But, since her ‘conversion’ takes place at the very beginning of the play, the audience later waited ‘in vain for the transformation of the Shrew into a Lover and had to hold on to that one single moment of her life-revolution’ throughout the play.32 And this is precisely the most important aspect of this particular staging of The Shrew in the Deutsches Theater: whereas earlier productions had told the tale of the Shrew who was tamed into a Lover (more precisely, a Woman-in-Love) in the course of the play, Hilpert’s version shows only a pseudo-Shrew (who turns into a Lover at the outset), and the whole taming process is nothing but a good-mannered farce in which the audience (both within and outside of the play) laughs along with Katherine rather than at her. In this version, the play seems more presentable and less violent. On the other hand, we can argue that this approach has an ultimately more devastating message about marriage and gender conflicts. The following question, posed by one of the reviewers, touches on this more sinister side of Hilpert’s production: ‘What is more dignified for the woman who is so badly mistreated in five acts: if her subjugation is ultimately the outcome of her husband’s violent actions, or if she, as here [in this production], from the very beginning appears half-conquered

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by the first real man whom she encounters and all further action on her side results from a sort of self-defence triggered by a fear of breakdown caused by the so far unknown feeling of love, and on Petruccio’s side from a sort of self-defence against this self-defence?’33 This question reminds us that Hilpert’s juggling with Katherine’s social roles as Lover and/or Shrew should not (and does not) cover her third, and arguably most decisive, role in the play: that of Married Woman. The production thus offered the rather limited choice of involuntary subjugation (as a result of domestic violence) or voluntary subjugation (as a result of ‘love’). In this sense, ‘love’ turns into a fetish-like metonymy of personal adjustment to social order and regulations. The most resonant (and bizarre) word in this review is ‘self-defence’ (‘Notwehr’). It gains eerie connotations because National Socialist Germany excused the invasions both of Poland in 1939, and of the Soviet Union in 1941 on the grounds of self-defence.34 In the context of the production, it implies that nobody is really responsible for the conflicts, while suggesting that all is cured by manly Petruccio’s ‘self-defence against this self-defence’. Beyond the aggressively patronising aspects of this interpretation, there is an even more ironic (and disturbing) aspect to Hilpert’s Shrew. If, as we have seen, the Shrew dissolves into the role of Lover at the beginning of the play and the whole taming process is merely a farce put on by Petruccio and Katherine, then the play represents their marriage as a Sado-Masochistic puppet-show that husband and wife put on to satisfy social expectations although, needless to say, no reviewer drew this conclusion. If there is no power conflict between Petruccio and Katherine (after all, she has lost the war as soon as she falls in love with Petruccio at the beginning of the play), the ‘puppet show’ is even more humiliating for her and suggests that marriage is, first and foremost, the locus of male aggression, which is not only condoned but demanded by a controlling society. If we then argue that the puppet show is only a ‘caricature’ that cannot be ‘taken seriously’, we also have to remember that the audiencewithin-the-play does take it seriously. If we think that they are part of the ‘caricature’ as well, then we misunderstand Hilpert’s production, since Hilpert scrapped the framing and did not treat the fictitious playworld of The Taming of the Shrew with irony: the reviews underline that Katherine’s final speech was presented in an earnest manner and lacked all mockery. In sum, Hilpert’s production, although seemingly more presentable than its ‘volkst¨ umlich’ predecessors, actually opened up even more devastating perspectives on relations between man and woman, and citizen and society.35


Shakespeare and War

Nostalgia for the ‘circus-like satyr-play’: Schauspielhaus, 1942 Perhaps it is less surprising, therefore, that Karlheinz Stroux’s production at the Staatliches Schauspielhaus am Gendarmenmarkt (first night: 15 October 1942) offered a return of sorts to the psychologically less complicated style of earlier productions. Stroux kept the Induction scenes and loyally followed Baudissin’s translation. Traugott M¨ uller’s design placed a roughly plastered, greyish external wall of a cylindrical building onto the stage, from which three entrances opened. A slanting, dark blue, low ceiling represented the sky, under which, as a reviewer put it, ‘word and play stood alone’.36 To amplify this effect, strong unchanging bright lights lit the stage. The production used very few props, thus directing all attention to ‘word and play’. Gustav Knuth played Petruccio; star actress Marianne Hoppe was Katherine. A later study on ‘Shakespeare and the German Stage’ found this production ‘remarkable’ as ‘a resolute attempt’, following J¨ urgen Fehling, to bring out ‘the pure verbal effects [‘‘Wortwirkung’’] even in Shakespeare’s coarse comedy’.37 The emphasis of this production on word and action (rather than props and scenery) offered a comical but controlled aesthetic quality. The reviewer of the V¨olkischer Beobachter underlined that Stroux’s approach presented ‘not a farce or travesty, but – beyond all coarseness – jest, satire, and deeper meaning’, and the director’s success lay in presenting ‘the full harmony of this triad’. Accordingly, Knuth’s Petruccio was ‘a man full of the zest of life, a nobleman of the heart’ whose ‘pursuit of money should not be granted as much weight as his pleasure in taming Katherine’. Hoppe’s Katherine, on the other hand, was an ‘enchanting study’: she appeared as ‘the Man-hater and the Shrew, endowed with all kinds of prickly and violent vices’. Her metamorphosis in the end, however, was convincing: ‘When Petruccio says about her, the obedient wife: ‘‘Why, there’s a wench!’’, she is already the quite clever woman who is aware of her sweet powers.’38 The review reflects a bland, ideologically reassuring staging of Shakespeare’s play: the morally rectified – i.e. falsified – masculine hero is triumphant as he transforms the shrew into ‘a quite clever woman’. According to the Shakespeare Jahrbuch, Stroux had given the play a ‘coarsely satirical farcical atmosphere’, although the reviewer found Hoppe’s Katherine lacking in ‘healthy power’; rather than displaying an ‘unbridled nature originating from surplus energy’, she had to resort to the ‘malleable ‘‘attitudes’’ ’ of her theatrical craft. Knuth’s Petruccio, on the other hand, was ‘most ideal’ in his role: ‘lushly robust,

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fully self-amusing, warm-heartedly manly, but never vulgar or crude’.39 Although the misogynistic message of the production was clear, the physical severity of the conflict between Katherine and Petruccio was significantly toned down. Stroux’s production at the Staatliches Schauspielhaus closed, after almost sixty performances, on 3 July 1943. It thus coincided with a decisive period for the Third Reich: the bloodbath of Stalingrad and the collapse of the African and Eastern fronts. This specific historical context must have added an uncanny topicality and emphasis to Petruccio’s military boasting, making these lines resonate in a way they may not in peace time: Have I not heard great ordnance in the field, And heaven’s artillery thunder in the skies? Have I not in a pitched battle heard Loud ’larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets’ clang? And do you tell me of a woman’s tongue, That gives not half so great a blow to hear As will a chestnut in a farmer’s fire? Tush, tush! Fear boys with bugs. (1.2.202–9) Petruccio’s (textually unsupported) bragging about his military experience and his anticipated domestic prowess articulate the premise of the misogynistic and ideologically laden elements that surface with full force in Katherine’s final speech, ‘Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper.’ The domestic mˆel´ee of the sexes is dwarfed by the real military battles and vice versa: the ‘triumph of masculinity’ at home promises the ‘triumph of masculinity’ on the front as well. Certainly, for all three audiences the play was primarily a pleasant pastime. In Wolfgang Stroedel’s words quoted in the beginning, Shakespeare’s comedy was ‘irrepressible, a spring of inexhaustible joy’.40 Those same audiences, including the majority of reviewers, also recognised and appreciated the ideological message of all three productions as a dithyramb to macho masculinity. Review articles celebrating ‘The Triumph of Masculinity’ clearly attested to this recognition and appreciation as they linked the productions with male chauvinistic interpretations of Shakespeare and celebrated the ending of the play, in which, in Hitler’s words, ‘each party performs the function prescribed for it by nature’.


Shakespeare and War

Perhaps the most notorious of patriarchal renderings of Shakespeare’s works to official Nazi ideology was Hans F. K. G¨ unther’s lecture and article, ‘Shakespeare’s M¨adchen und Frauen’,41 which investigated Shakespeare’s female characters from the chilling point of view of a ‘Researcher of Genetic Health’ (‘Erbgesundheitsforscher’).42 It is noteworthy, however, that (while repeatedly emphasising his appreciation of Viola and Olivia from Twelfth Night) G¨ unther did not mention Katherine, even as a negative example. Instead, towards the end of his article, he distinguished between a ‘southern approach to sexual life’ in Shakespeare’s early comedies and a ‘northern, Indo-Germanic’ one in his mature ones. In a rather generalising vein, he ascertained that Shakespeare had highlighted the ‘Nordic-Germanic traits of his female characters’ in whom ‘glibness’ gave way to ‘seriousness’, ‘flirting’ to ‘dignity’, and ‘effusion’ to ‘reserve’.43 In the course of The Taming of the Shrew, we can infer, Kate turns from a hot-headed Southerner into a ‘serious, dignified, and reserved’ German. I find it significant, however, that Kate’s ‘Germanification’ in the wartime productions of The Shrew was more subdued and controlled than in the majority of their pre-war predecessors. In all three, there seems to have been a greater emphasis on the intimacy and community between the two protagonists. To understand this, we can turn to another ‘Erbgesundheitsforscher’, Hermann Muckermann, who, in his bestseller (published in 1938 and reprinted in 1947 and 1952), Der Sinn ¨ der Ehe: Biologisch, Ethisch, Ubernat¨ urlich [The Meaning of Marriage: Biological, Ethical, Supernatural], repeatedly emphasised that man and woman are ‘equal [‘‘gleichwertige’’ = of the same value] but different [‘‘andersartige’’ = of different kind] human beings’.44 In his eugenic account of human reproduction from the creation of the world to the present, Muckermann makes it clear that the equality of the sexes is a vital principle of human life, but this ‘equality’ is based on the two sexes’ reciprocal ‘need’ and ‘ability’ to complement each other [‘Erg¨anzungsbed¨ urftigkeit und Erg¨anzungsf¨ahigkeit’]. Muckermann was no feminist: his work manifests condescending patriarchal views, including references to the ideal woman as a ‘silent, selfless, and loving companion’.45 His notion of relative gender equality could only be interpreted within the private sphere, or, more precisely, in ‘racially hygienic’ reproduction. The public sphere, on the other hand, belonged to men. As Claudia Koontz has shown in her groundbreaking study on Mothers in the Fatherland, ‘To a degree unique in Western history, Nazi doctrine created a society structured around ‘‘natural’’ biological poles. In addition to serving specific needs of the state, this radical division vindicated a

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more general and thoroughgoing biological Weltanschauung based on race and sex as the immutable categories of human nature.’ The Nazi regime ‘institutionalized a rigid social system based on polarized conceptions of ‘‘man’’ and ‘‘woman’’.’46 During the first years of the Third Reich, following the ideological segregation of German men and women, members of ‘the weaker sex’ were systematically forced out of public life and into their only respectable social positions as wives and, most importantly, mothers. This anti-feminist and nostalgically reductive understanding of women’s gender roles must have influenced the pre-war German productions of The Shrew as well. During the war years, however, the policy of segregation and polarisation proved to be disastrously counterproductive: the dwindling labour force demanded the immediate return of an increasing number of women to work. Disenchanted and confused, German women were generally reluctant to heed these calls and were much less successfully mobilised on the home front than their British peers, for instance. The severe political and social transformations during the war also changed the connotations of each of the three stage productions of The Taming of the Shrew. As we have seen, these wartime productions amplified the positive aspects of Katherine and Petruccio’s relationship and reassessed the differences between the world of the two protagonists and that of the other characters, between a protective private sphere and a vicious public sphere.

Notes 1. I thank Ros King, Paul Franssen, and Ruth von Ledebur for their immensely helpful comments on this paper. 2. Cited in Claudia Koonz, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics (New York: St. Martin’s, 1987), 91. 3. Alan E. Steinweis, Art, Ideology, and Economics in Nazi Germany (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1993), 163–4. See also Werner Habicht, ‘Shakespeare and Theatre Politics in the Third Reich,’ The Play Out of Context: Transferring Plays from Culture to Culture, eds. Hanna Socolov and Peter Holland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 110–20, and Gerwin Strobl, ‘Shakespeare and the Nazis,’ History Today 47 (May 1997), 16–21. 4. Gerhart Hauptmann, ‘Deutschland und Shakespeare,’ Shakespeare Jahrbuch 51 (1915), xii. All translations are mine unless noted otherwise. 5. Henning Rischbieter, Thomas Eicher, and Barbara Panse, Theater im ‘Dritten Reich’: Theaterpolitik, Spielplanstruktur, NS-Dramatik (Seelze-Velber: Kallmeyer, 2000), 302. See also Thomas Eicher, Theater im ‘Dritten Reich’: Eine Spielplananalyse der deutschen Schauspieltheater 1929–1944 (Doctoral Dissertation,


6. 7.



10. 11.


13. 14.

15. 16. 17.

18. 19.

Shakespeare and War Institut f¨ ur Theaterwissenschaft, Freie Universit¨at Berlin, 1992), 45. For further statistical data for 1919–37, see Wolfgang Stroedel, Shakespeare auf der deutschen B¨uhne: Vom Ende des Weltkriegs bis zur Gegenwart, Schriften der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, eds. Wolfgang Keller and Ernst Leopold Stahl, Vol. 2 (Weimar: B¨ ohlaus, 1938), 88–92. Wolfgang Stroedel, Shakespeare auf der deutschen B¨uhne, 75. These two plays were followed by As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Romeo and Juliet, with three different productions each. Twelfth Night saw only two wartime productions in Berlin: Theater der Jugend, first night: 15.01.1941; and Berliner Volksb¨ uhne (Theater in der Saarlandstrasse), 1.03.1944. J. P. Wearing, The London Stage, 1930–1939: A Calendar of Plays and Players; and The London Stage, 1940–1949: A Calendar of Plays and Players (London: The Scarecrow Press, 1990 and 1991). Deutscher B¨uhnen-Spielplan (1933–44), 39–49. Paul Meißner, Shakespeare (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1940), 32. Although Meißner calls certain elements in the play ‘coarse theatre’, he fully embraces its ideological message: ‘But the wild raging, the coarse joking and the merry disguise may not dim our insight that behind this burlesque there also appears Shakespeare’s spiritual world’, represented primarily by ‘fair Bianca’. Eduard Eckhardt, Shakespeares Anschauungen u¨ ber Religion und Sittlichkeit, Staat und Volk, Schriften der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, ed. Wolfgang Keller, Vol. 4 (Weimar: B¨ ohlaus, 1940), 139. Erwin H. Rainalter, ‘ ‘‘Der Widerspenstigen Z¨ahmung’’: Shakespeare auf der Freilichtb¨ uhne am M¨arkischen Museum,’ V¨olkischer Beobachter, 2.06.1935. B. E. Werner, ‘Shakespeare, Fl¨ oten und Wildwest: ‘‘Der Widerspenstigen Z¨ahmung’’ – Theater in der Saarlandstraße,’ review article in the collection of the Stiftung Archiv der Akademie der K¨ unste in Berlin, Sammlung ‘Fritz Wisten,’ 10.05.1939. Otto Ernst Hesse, Berliner Zeitung, 10.05.1939. Carl Weichardt, Der Morgen, 11.05.1939. Important book-length studies on the Kulturbund and its theatre in Berlin include: Herbert Freeden, J¨udisches Theater in Nazideutschland (T¨ ubingen: Mohr, 1964); Geschlossene Vorstellung: Der J¨udische Kulturbund in Deutschland 1933–1941, ed. Akademie der K¨ unste (Berlin: Hentrich-Akademie der K¨ unste, 1992); Eike Geisel and Henryk M. Broder, Premiere und Pogrom: Der J¨udische Kulturbund 1933–41, Texte und Bilder (Berlin: Siedler, 1992). A couple of interesting studies on this same subject in English are: Alan E. Steinweis, Art, Ideology, and Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and The Visual Arts (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1993); Rebecca Rovit, ‘Collaboration or Survival, 1933–1938: Reassessing the Role of the J¨udischer Kulturbund,’ Theatre in the Third Reich, the Prewar Years: Essays on Theatre in Nazi Germany, ed. Glen W. Gadberry (London: Greenwood, 1995), 141–56. Wilhelm Hortmann (and Mike Hamburger), Shakespeare on the German Stage: The Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998), 119. Anon., ‘Der J¨ udische Kulturbund arbeitet,’ J¨udisches Nachrichtenblatt, 9.02.1940.

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20. Document printed in Fritz Wisten: Drei Leben f¨ur das Theater: Stuttgart 1919–1933, J¨udischer Kulturbund, Berlin 1945–1962 (Berlin: HentrichAkademie der K¨ unste, 1990), 89; see also: Wolfgang Trautwein, ‘Erinnern und Bewahren: Der J¨ udische Kulturbund in Archiv und Ausstellung,’ in Geschlossene Vorstellung: Der J¨udische Kulturbund in Deutschland 1933–1941, ed. Akademie der K¨ unste (Berlin: Hentrich-Akademie der K¨ unste, 1992), 9–12. 21. Dr Hugo Israel Lachmanski, ‘William Shakespeares Der Widerspenstigen Z¨ahmung im J¨ udischen Kulturbund,’ J¨udisches Nachrichtenblatt, 8.03.1940. 22. Lachmanski, ‘William Shakespeares Der Widerspenstigen Z¨ahmung im J¨ udischen Kulturbund.’ 23. Geschlossene Vorstellung: Der J¨udische Kulturbund in Deutschland 1933–1941, 361. 24. Hortmann, Shakespeare on the German Stage: The Twentieth Century, 119. It is noteworthy, however, that the earliest productions of the Kulturbund (1933–5) do deserve scholarly scrutiny even on aesthetic grounds. 25. This was already his third staging of this play: he produced it in 1933 at the Volksb¨ uhne (Theater am Horst-Wessel-Platz) and in 1939 at the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna. See Michael Dillman, Heinz Hilpert: Leben und Werk (Berlin: Hentrich-Akademie der K¨ unste, 1990), 434, 440–1. 26. See Beate-Ursula Endriss, Shakespeare-Inszenierungen in Berlin 1933–1944 (Doctoral Dissertation, Freie Universit¨at Berlin, 1994), 150. 27. Paul Fechter, ‘Hilperts ‘‘Widerspenstige’’: Deutsches Theater,’ Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 5.05.1941. 28. Hubert Maushagen, ‘Bezauberndes Lustspiel: Shakespeares ‘‘Widerspenstige’’ im Deutschen Theater,’ Die Reichshauptstadt 19 (1941), 6. 29. These observations refer to Hilpert’s 1933 production at the Volksb¨ uhne, but they are relevant here since Hilpert kept his directorial innovation in the 1941 production as well. Hortmann, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 125–6. 30. Dr Richard Biedrzynski, ‘Triumph der M¨annlichkeit: Im Deutschen Theater: ‘‘Der Widerspenstigen Z¨ahmung,’’ ’ V¨olkischer Beobachter, 5.05.1941. 31. Otto Ernst Hesse, ‘Balser contra von Collande: ‘‘Der Widerspenstigen Z¨ahmung’’ im Deutschen Theater,’ Berliner Zeitung, 5.05.1941. 32. Fechter, ‘Hilperts ‘‘Widerspenstige’’: Deutsches Theater.’ 33. Maushagen, ‘Bezauberndes Lustspiel: Shakespeares ‘‘Widerspenstige’’ im Deutsches Theater,’ 6. 34. The German aggression against Poland was officially justified as an act of selfdefence following a staged Polish attack against the Gleiwitz Radio Station, whereas the invasion of the Soviet Union was presented as a preemptive strike against an imminent Soviet attack. As theatricality and make-believe permeated politics, the reviewer described the stage conflict between Petruccio and Katherine with words such as ‘subjugation,’ ‘violent actions,’ ‘conquer,’ and ‘self-defense’. 35. Ros King has pointed out to me that Hilpert’s strategy has become the norm with productions of The Shrew. Greg Doran’s 2003 RSC production, for instance, did exactly the same: they cut the Induction and had Petruccio and Katherine fall in love in the first scene as he tickled her feet. As I argue in this paper, this love-at-first-sight approach might seem more acceptable and comical at a superficial glance but in fact offers a more depressing understanding


36. 37. 38. 39.

40. 41. 42.

43. 44. 45. 46.

Shakespeare and War of love, marriage, and gender relations than a rough-and-tumble ‘war of the sexes’ interpretation. Bernhard Eck, ‘Ein kom¨ odiantisches Spiel: ‘‘Der Widerspenstigen Z¨ahmung’’ im Staatlichen Schauspielhaus,’ V¨olkischer Beobachter, 17.10.1942. Ernst Leopold Stahl, Shakespeare und das deutsche Theater (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1947), 708–9. Eck, ‘Ein kom¨ odiantisches Spiel,’ V¨olkischer Beobachter, 17.10.1942. Werner Papsdorf with Ernst Leopold Stahl and Carl Nießen, ‘Theaterschau: Shakespeare auf der deutschen B¨ uhne 1940/42,’ Shakespeare Jahrbuch, 78–9 (1943), 130–1. Wolfgang Stroedel, Shakespeare auf der deutschen B¨uhne, 75. Hans F. K. G¨ unther, ‘Shakespeares M¨adchen und Frauen: Ein Vortrag vor der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft,’ Shakespeare Jahrbuch 73 (1937), 85–108. See a brief but insightful analysis of this article in Ruth Freifrau von Ledebur, Der Mythos vom deutschen Shakespeare: Die Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft zwischen Poltik und Wissenschaft 1918–1945 (K¨ oln: B¨ ohlau, 2002), 201–4. G¨ unther, ‘Shakespeares M¨adchen und Frauen,’ 105–6. ¨ Hermann Muckermann, Der Sinn der Ehe: Biologisch, Ethisch, Ubernat¨ urlich (Bonn: Buchgemeinde, 1938), 10. Muckermann, Der Sinn der Ehe, 13, 83, 91. Claudia Koonz, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics (New York: St. Martin’s, 1987), 5–6 and 387.

16 ‘So the Falklands. So Agincourt. ‘‘Fuck the Frogs’’ ’: Michael Bogdanov’s English Shakespeare Company’s Wars of the Roses David Carnegie ‘It is not at all clear,’ says Stephen Greenblatt, ‘that Henry V can be successfully performed as subversive.’1 Yet not only Henry V, but both tetralogies of Shakespeare’s extended chronicle of English history, are cited by Isobel Armstrong in a challenge to Greenblatt: ‘the English Shakespeare Company’s reading of the plays, [with their] sense of theatre, clarity of diction and intellectual control . . . makes Greenblatt’s thesis look questionable . . . by making the plays not so much a display of ideological containment as a study of the way a monarchy under strain maintains power and legitimises itself.’2 Armstrong is referring to Michael Bogdanov’s productions of the eight plays (compressed to seven) as The Wars of the Roses for the English Shakespeare Company (ESC) 1986–9.3 These productions consistently interrogated received critical and popular assumptions about Shakespeare’s portrayal of English patriotism and war, and continually invoked Shakespeare’s old European wars as a subversive critique of contemporary postcolonial ones. Other chapters in this volume demonstrate that the dramaturgy of Henry V, at least in its Folio manifestation, is far more complex and questioning than Greenblatt gives it credit for being. This chapter validates Armstrong’s argument and shows how Bogdanov used a mixture of contemporary and recent historical icons to subvert the common critical and theatrical approach to the play as Laurence Olivier-style English epic. The leave-taking of the tavern crew as they departed for war in France at the end of 2.3 showed the obverse of Olivier’s wartime patriotism. It was initially played for sentiment, with both costume (Bardolph’s military greatcoat, Mistress Quickly’s frock) and sentimental music suggesting a tearful 1940s farewell to soldiers embarking for war. Sentimentality was undercut, however, by Pistol’s World War II German 213


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helmet, a reminder of Britain’s enemy in that war and, in combination with his ‘Hal’s Angels’ black leather motorbike jacket and a skull and crossbones scarf, a signifier of a British culture of anti-authoritarianism and even criminality in a generation too young to have served in that war. As the men turned front, the logo on the side of Pistol’s suitcase was revealed: ‘Pistol Enterprises’. Pistol was organised ‘the very blood to suck’ (2.3.52), thereby invoking a socialist critique of war as a capitalist enterprise, and more specifically invoking the particular brand of capitalism and politics of the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Many of the initial audiences for this touring show were outside London, in the provincial centres of Britain which, especially in the midlands, the north, and in Wales, felt cut off from the prosperity of the south-east during the Thatcher years. Pistol, Bardolph, Nym, and the Boy, representatives of the underclass in Thatcher’s Britain, faced the audience and started to sing the raucous football-terraces chorus, ‘Here we go, here we go, here we go’.4 In the first instance this might have seemed merely national sports-oriented patriotism, but its ugly side was reinforced as the lighting faded up to reveal a gallery at the back of the stage crowded with men unmistakeably representing the English football hooliganism that has led to literal invasions of European cities, ostensibly for football, actually for fighting. Dressed in the singlets and military castoffs of yob culture and the National Front, they joined aggressively in the singing with Pistol and the others. The Chorus walked across the stage wearing a football scarf over his dinner jacket, and whirling a gas rattle. As its name reminds us, a gas rattle was used on the battlefield before it became a football noisemaker. The gallery now resembled the rails of a ship lined with soldiers as a hand-lettered banner was unfurled reading ‘Fuck the Frogs’. The unofficial English national anthem ‘Jerusalem’ added further ironic commentary on this spectacle of savage xenophobia. The image was not just of football hooligans crossing the Channel, but of British troops embarking for the Falklands War, and the point was reinforced by the Chorus flaunting a placard reading ‘Gotcha’. This was the notorious banner headline in the Sun newspaper reporting the British sinking of the Argentinean cruiser the General Belgrano on 2 May 1982, with the loss of well over 300 men, despite the fact that she was well outside the British-declared ‘exclusion zone’ around the Falklands. Shakespeare’s Fluellen might well have questioned Margaret Thatcher’s failure to honour ‘the disciplines of war’ (3.3.82).5 The larger point here is the way in which Shakespeare’s dramaturgy became, in this stage production, a multi-layered political comment designed to be immediately and specifically pertinent to its audience,

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and to provoke critical thought about both Henry’s medieval expedition to recover France, and its analogies with the British Falklands expedition. Both, implied this production, were examples of colonial military adventurism to distract the population from problems at home. Michael Pennington, lead actor (playing Henry) and joint artistic director, was thinking of the Falklands conflict when he referred to ‘Henry’s selfjustifying foreign invasion, drowning discontent at home in its patriotic clamour’.6 His co-artistic director Bogdanov left no doubt about his rage at the Thatcher government: ‘Imperialism encourages jingoism. So the Falklands. So Agincourt. ‘‘Fuck the Frogs’’.’7 The point was driven home as the lights faded up on the next scene, 2.4, to reveal a most English-looking spectacle: a group of aristocrats drinking champagne in a green-dappled space, the men dressed in white suits or cricket jerseys at a white outdoor table, the ladies in gauzy frocks on a white rug on the lawn. This was the French court. The French king suspended his first line half-way through, after ‘Thus comes the English – ’, and the audience laughed joyously at the joke of the French being portrayed in such an Edwardian English manner. Or possibly at such a droll response to the crude English invasion of football hooligans.8 Either way, the French were, at this crucial transitional point, much more attractive than Thatcher’s English. The decision to perform the two tetralogies together as an epic cycle, in their historical as opposed to authorial chronology, imposed its own interpretive difficulties. The first tetralogy (the three Henry VI plays and Richard III) is generally agreed to date from the early 1590s, and to represent Shakespearean prentice work. The second tetralogy (Richard II, and the three plays about Hal: both parts of Henry IV, and Henry V), although dealing with earlier history, was written later, in the second half of the 1590s. Samuel Crowl sees Shakespeare ‘expending his neophyte dramatic energies on the lesser material provided by the reign of Henry VI and thus coming to Hal’s story as he hits the full stride of his powers as a dramatist’.9 The pattern of increasing dramaturgical skill and complexity must be reversed, however, when the plays are presented on stage as a historical cycle. One of the few critics to find a positive side to this progression was Bernard McElroy: ‘As the politics became more brutal and murderous, the dramaturgy became steadily more primitive, and the sophisticated world of Richard II degenerated into the sustained barbarism and bombast of Henry VI. Such is, of course, not an effect that Shakespeare could have consciously intended, but it was, nevertheless, a most powerful impression when the plays were presented in historical order.’10


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This critical reaction, like many, especially where the production toured overseas, was based on one of the phenomenal weekends in which the ESC presented all seven plays from Friday to Sunday night. In Chicago: ‘The exhausted audience regaled the obviously exhausted actors with a standing ovation.’11 In Melbourne: ‘For more than twenty hours men in khaki battle dress, frock coats, dinner jackets, taskforce camouflage and red berets, striped suits, gold-braided regimental dress uniforms, army or airforce greatcoats, scarlet tunics, ecclesiastical robes, or T-shirts and jeans struggle for power with the aid of swords, rifles, pistols, knives, axes, machine guns, meat-cleavers, howitzers, and – most deadly of all weapons – words.’12 What these reviews demonstrate is the extent to which, despite eclectic costuming, scenery, and props, all the plays in this epic cycle had been given a common style and purpose. Bogdanov was already known as a Shakespeare director who favoured modern dress and an immediacy of social and political reference. In The Wars of the Roses modern dress was eclectically juxtaposed with that from historical periods. In each play the winners seemed to be chronologically slightly ahead of the losers in costume and props. In Richard II, for instance, Richard was Regency, Bolingbroke later nineteenth century or Edwardian. By Richard III, Richard sat at his computer in a modern suit, but the victorious Richmond looked even more modern in front of television cameras. Yet there was juxtaposition of visual elements within every play as well, depending on the needs of the scene or character, which provided a key to Bogdanov’s political attitude: as an Australian critic said, ‘that a soldier wears a mixture of chain mail and commando gear, then, is no affectation of design, but a gesture towards acknowledging historical persistence . . . a reaching into the past in search of images of the present’.13 The entry of the French herald Mountjoy in pale blue and white amongst Henry’s camouflaged modern troops was a shock well beyond realist possibility, inducing thought about the meaning of such self-consciously theatrical presentation. Bogdanov commented:

Henry V, with its war of expediency, ruthless manipulation, bribery and corruption, palpable pacifism, the French superior in numbers but beaten by superior technology, felt modern. It should be modern . . . the English would wear modern battle fatigues, the French powder-blue nineteenth-century uniforms, echoing the futile French cavalry charges of the First World War, their battalions mown down by automatic weapons.14

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It was, in effect, a Brechtian distancing device. ‘In these productions,’ says MacDonald P. Jackson, ‘heroism regularly yields to a nasty modern ruthlessness: Talbot valiantly beats off three attackers with his sword, only to die from a sniper’s bullet.’15 As Roger Warren comments about a similar episode in I Henry IV, ‘chivalry was giving place to realpolitik.’16 Every hint of treachery, ruthlessness, or cold political scheming was seized upon by Bogdanov, and whenever possible given a contemporary resonance. He continually equated the medieval civil war in England with the troubles in Ulster, and the foreign excursions against France with the Falklands campaign. Nearly all the major battles in the Falklands comprised night engagements, which were given wide television coverage at the time. One British officer describes ‘a six-phase night–day, silent–noisy battalion attack’.17 Bogdanov accordingly evoked Shakespeare’s ‘alarums and excursions’ by punctuating a darkened stage with the noise and bright flashes of firearms and rockets apparently exploding behind the upstage gauze screen. But a politically-left view of class war in Thatcher’s Britain was also a crucial element in the productions, whether in the costuming of the tavern derelicts and their young punk supporters, the National Front look of Cade’s rebellion in 2 Henry VI (The House of York), the regional accents (and, in the case of Welsh, language) of the dispossessed, or the clubbish old boys’ network of the ruthlessly selfish political class. War, in these plays, has a long tradition of portrayal as a necessary and heroic part of national life in which the royal or political legitimacy of the decisions is not questioned.18 Bogdanov, however, never lost sight of the power politics of the play. The bloodthirsty elements of the speech before Harfleur, which Olivier cut from his wartime film, were retained. Unlike Branagh’s heroism of exhaustion, Pennington’s Henry was seated at an army table writing reports. The speech was delivered to the Governor alone as both ferocious rhetoric and necessary bureaucratic procedure in war. Henry here and elsewhere made the audience aware that each decision carried its price: ‘Michael Pennington excels at expressing moral queasiness.’19 Indeed, it could be argued that Bogdanov managed to harness the heroism of Henry to the subversive trajectory of the production only by having Pennington display so much ‘queasiness’ that the deliberate lack of resolution in the acting threw the moral decisions back at the audience. At the start of the next scene (3.4), Bogdanov added a new line in which the French king hastily instructed an understandably unwilling Katherine, ‘Il faut que tu apprennes l’anglais’ (‘You must learn English’; cf. 3.4.4–5, ‘il faut que j’apprenne a` parler’ – ‘I must learn to speak it’). That Katherine is


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a political prize can be made evident enough from Henry’s lines (e.g., ‘She is our capital demand’, 5.2.96), but it is seldom in production history that she has been forced to learn English.20 Bogdanov also made clear that the killing of the prisoners actually took place, by introducing new stage business at the end of 4.6. Pistol crossed the stage with his prize captive, Monsieur le Fer, in a supermarket trolley – itself a striking image of the commercial motives for war.21 An English officer repeated ‘Kill all the prisoners’, and forced Pistol at gunpoint to ‘Coup’ la gorge’ (4.6.39; cf. 4.4.36) of Monsieur le Fer. Pistol was clearly distressed not about cutting the man’s throat, but about losing the ransom. Finally, Pennington’s Henry had to struggle to summon enough energy to woo Katherine romantically, and much more significant than her acquiescence was the disinherited Dauphin’s appalled and disruptive departure from the court at the moment that Henry kissed her as his ‘sovereign queen’ (5.2.353). Henry angrily responded by demanding an oath ‘for surety of our leagues’ from not only the Duke of Burgundy, but from ‘all the peers’ (5.2.367; Pennington’s emphasis). The Dauphin’s future role in disrupting Henry’s imperial strategy in the upcoming Henry VI plays was clearly foreshadowed. To paraphrase Barbara Hodgdon, the closure contained its own contradictions.22 Lois Potter has noted the way the compression of the Henry VI plays also darkened the overall tone: Individually, each of the Henry plays originally ended on an up-beat note: Part One with a truce in France and the Dauphin swearing fealty to the English king, Part Two with the Yorkist victory at St Albans, and Part Three with Edward IV in triumph hoping that war has given place to ‘lasting joy’. Of course, all three of these happy endings are provisional and ironic, but, as is clear in the case of Henry V, hindsight need not diminish the theatrical satisfaction when a character orders, ‘Sound drums and trumpets.’23 In Bogdanov’s production, The House of Lancaster ended at 2 Henry VI 4.8.48–9: ‘let’s in, and learn to govern better; / For yet may England curse my wretched reign’; and The House of York finished not with Edward’s ‘Sound drums and trumpets – farewell, sour annoy! / For here, I hope, begins our lasting joy’, but with the addition of the first couplet of Richard’s famous soliloquy at the start of Richard III, ‘a reminder’, as Potter says, ‘that Richard’s play is to follow’.24 The ending of 2 Henry IV was similarly undercut by the ironic use of the 1980s pop song ‘You’re in the Army Now’ (‘Education in a foreign land, / Uncle Sam does the best

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he can, / You’re in the army now’) to foreshadow the French adventure of Henry V.25 Jackson, too, comments on the ‘reductive skepticism that pervades the productions’, on how ‘Bogdanov’s direction is everywhere infected by a contemporary skepticism about all political action and by a profound pessimism about Thatcher’s Britain . . . Bogdanov tends to stress characters’ worst motives and least endearing traits and to see nearly all behaviour in Adlerian terms of a drive to dominate.’ Jackson is particularly critical of ‘coherence at the expense of the emotional complexities of the second tetralogy’, arguing that the later-written plays portray more variety and optimism than the ‘unrelievedly bleak’ Henry VI plays and Richard III.26 As discussed earlier, this is an inevitable result of presenting the plays in their historical chronology rather than in the order they were written, but other critics shared a sense that this political coherence had been achieved at a cost. Stanley Wells, for instance, felt ‘got at’ (though admitting that he might be ‘the kind of person at whom [Bogdanov] wishes to get’), by the director’s populist semiotics in which the swigging of beer from bottles contrasts favourably with the serving of short drinks in glasses . . . There was much theatrical life in The Henrys, but I was left with a feeling that I had been talked down to.27 Armstrong was similarly uneasy about Bogdanov’s uncompromising portrayal of a brutalised lower order in the tavern and in Jack Cade’s National Front: How many members of the audience were able to endorse comfortable prejudices by seeing National Front thuggery as the inevitable result of degeneration instead of the product of a violence done to ‘popular life’? . . . The tavern element, doing what its masters do, but with more brio and less hypocrisy, constitutes a critique of the court and deconstructs power.28 Despite concerns, however, Armstrong acknowledges and celebrates the ESC’s demonstration ‘that it is possible to produce Shakespeare in the theatre as a radical experiment, and to succeed’.29 The achievement of Bogdanov’s The Wars of the Roses is to have conveyed a radical critique of power politics and war with energy and zest for Shakespeare’s characters and situations, and to have illuminated both Shakespeare’s plays and contemporary politics in a new way. As Hodgdon (88) says, ‘Bogdanov


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views theatre, through Brechtian lenses, as making history and locates Shakespeare’s plays as initiating a dialectic with history . . . ’ Bogdanov’s directing ‘genius’ lies, according to Crowl, ‘in building a tapestry, a grand design, from countless precise choices made by actor and director in the use of the ‘‘things’’ – props, costumes, music, set – which have come to define the world being created by the production’.30 The example discussed at the start of this essay, of the departure of the British for France, demonstrates the accuracy of this judgement. Three more examples will further demonstrate the theatrical imagination of the productions, the significance of ‘countless precise choices’, and the ways in which Shakespeare’s history and 1980s British politics and war were mapped over each other. The first example is from 4.2 of 1 Henry IV. Falstaff entered dressed in splendid nineteenth-century scarlet tunic, busby, and more medals than anyone else in the army, sitting in state on the railway porter’s trolley that figured frequently in the productions, pulled on by Bardolph in ragged army greatcoat and blowing exhaustedly on his bugle.31 Falstaff’s suitcases and huge ‘bottle of sack’ (4.2.2) were stowed on the cart. For any experienced theatregoer, the reference to Mother Courage’s wagon from Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children was unmistakable.32 This visual theatrical intertextuality evoked a richly comic comparison of Mother Courage, the ‘hyena of the battlefield’,33 with the Falstaff who has ‘misused the King’s press damnably’ (4.2.13), and for whom his men are ‘food for powder, food for powder. They’ll fill a pit as well as better’ (4.2.65–6). Mother Courage, in her play, cuts to the core of war as an instrument of politics: ‘why would [the commander] need brave soldiers, wouldn’t plain, ordinary soldiers do? Whenever there are great virtues, it’s a sure sign something’s wrong . . . In a good country virtues wouldn’t be necessary. Everybody could be quite ordinary, middling, and, for all I care, cowards.’34 Falstaff is more self-serving: ‘to the latter end of a fray / And the beginning of a feast / Fits a dull fighter and a keen guest’ (4.2.79–81). He does not pursue the implications as Mother Courage does. Nevertheless, he shares not only her acute awareness of the aspirations and weaknesses of ordinary men and women, but also her instinct for self-preservation on a battlefield. In this production, seated on his cart, well fed, and dressed in a smart uniform like Hal’s, Falstaff could safely follow the war, regarding it as another opportunity to be used to his personal advantage. As he departed, smoking a large cigar, pulled on his cart by one of his ‘slaves as ragged as Lazarus’ (4.2.25), the lights faded up on a different kind of visual image for the last parley between the king and

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the rebels prior to the battle of Shrewsbury – 5.1; 4.3 and 4.4 having been rearranged to follow 4.1. Whereas Hal and the other lords were dressed in British nineteenth-century scarlet dress uniforms with gold braid and aiguillettes (like Falstaff’s but with fewer ostentatious medals), King Henry appeared in a medieval surcoat with the royal coat of arms over chain mail. Facing this iconic mixture of centuries of English military tradition appeared the rebels, dressed in an improvised but visually coherent collection of green trench coats and berets, leather jerkins, bandoliers, and Sam Browne belts, invoking a composite image of the IRA and the Irish uprisings of the early twentieth century. In the battle itself both Hal and Hotspur adopted chain mail and surcoats as well – though Hal retained his modern silk scarf as a mark of difference. Hal’s medieval garb signalled both his growing acceptance of his role beside his father as heir to the crown, and his emulation of Hotspur’s chivalric prowess. At a crucial moment in their fight Hotspur disarmed Hal, who cowered under the expected death blow. Instead, in a gesture of chivalry, Hotspur returned his sword and renewed the fight, only to fall to the more ruthless Hal a few moments later. Falstaff, however, was by now dressed in modern camouflage but with a toy World War II-style helmet, and protected from the Douglas’s sword-stroke by an International Road Sign for ‘No Entry’ hidden under his tunic. Kings and governments can call on centuries of patriotic images of men in uniform evoking chivalric codes of fighting. Rebels can call on the rough and ready romanticism of sacrifice. But in these productions, chivalry was demonstrated to be either obtusely suicidal (Hotspur) or chimerical (Falstaff). A second example of Bogdanov’s flair in mapping Shakespeare onto more recent history occurred when the series of productions reached The House of Lancaster (1 Henry VI and parts of 2 Henry VI), and medieval and nineteenth-century uniforms gave way to those from World War I, rendering war in France doubly central. With Yorkist and Lancastrian generals in red tabs, self-righteously blaming each other for abandoning the Kiplingesque-looking Talbot, the audience was led to interpret Shakespeare’s play in terms of the failures of leadership in 1914–18. The critique of successive generations of British military and political leaders was updated by the treatment of the Cade rebellion in 2 Henry VI (in The House of York). Pennington’s Jack Cade entered in 4.2 with spiky punk hair and a sleeveless Union Jack singlet to address what was clearly a National Front meeting. The fight with the Staffords before 4.3 was accompanied by the chanting of contemporary street demonstrations (‘you’re gonna get your fuckin’ ’eads kicked in’).35 Nevertheless, the seduction of the mob away from Cade by Buckingham and Old Clifford,


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who were positioned on a higher stage level, was as Shakespeare wrote it: an appeal by the ruling class to patriotism, the memory of Henry V, and a promise to ‘make the meanest of you earls and dukes’ (4.7.192), provided they return to fight in France: ‘To France! To France! And get what you have lost!’ (4.7.204). As in Henry V, the threat of civil strife is bought off with a foreign war. And again the worst extremes of English popular culture were matched by their superiors; the difference was that one side of this class war was more skilled at manipulation. The third and final example of Bogdanov’s theatrical imagination in the portrayal of war deals only with the leaders, but encapsulates his directorial flair for the iconic image. In Richard III, Richard at the height of his power in 4.2 was comfortably ensconced in a modern swivel chair at a computer console; but as his problems mounted, the vast, austere Gothic throne from the earlier plays reappeared, and Richard appeared dwarfed by it. By Act 5 it was Richmond’s army that was portrayed in the by-now-familiar British professional style, whereas Richard’s troops, though mainly in modern fatigues, were in costume detail slightly oldfashioned and disparate. The coup-de-th´eaˆ tre, however, started with an unexpected return to the medieval armour not seen since 1 Henry IV. Out of the smoke of a battle reverberating with the noise of automatic weapons and artillery appeared two still, silent, visored figures in full plate armour, one black and the other golden, with massive broadswords. Under a strange amber light the two figures engaged in almost slowmotion single combat, initially in absolute silence. The gradual addition of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings added to the ritual isolation of the image.36 When the fight became more brutal, and the combatants lost their helms, the golden figure was revealed as Richmond, and the black as Richard. As the fight reached its conclusion with Richmond dispatching Richard, the scene faded to blackout. But in an astonishingly short time the lights came up again on Richmond, now in business suit, walking into a television studio to the applause of technicians and his own surviving family and allies. Cued by the floor manager, he launched into his final speech direct to camera, as it were (and with monitors showing him in close-up), starting at 5.8.23: ‘England hath long been mad . . .’ This jolting juxtaposition of the old with the new, of a scene of medieval combat with a modern television broadcast, reiterated the recurring theme of all the plays in The Wars of the Roses: that ‘the way a monarchy under strain maintains power and legitimises itself’ has not changed in substance during the more than six centuries since Richard II. Shakespeare’s politics and wars constitute a guide to understanding ours. Furthermore, for an audience used to media spin, the rhetoric of

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peace, healing, and reunification in Richmond’s speech, sincere though the delivery was, was undercut by its presentation as a prepared political broadcast. Bogdanov’s final irony was to conclude the speech, as the lights dimmed on an unsmiling Richmond/King Henry VII, with a swelling rendition of ‘God Save the King’. Once an essential element of any public occasion in Britain (even attending the theatre), standing up for the national anthem was challenged in the 1950s and 60s by a young generation that despised the political leadership that led Britain into Suez and supported the Americans in Vietnam. They knew that the ritual of standing (other than in the actual presence of the monarch) was only introduced as jingoistic support for the war effort in World War I. For Bogdanov to play it now, ambiguously both within the ending of the dramatic fiction (as ‘God Save the King’ for King Henry VII) and also in the theatre as the show ended and the audience prepared to leave (as ‘God Save the Queen’ in 1980s Britain), was another reminder that we still have not learned the lessons of the past, neither from the wars themselves nor from Shakespeare. Bogdanov’s productions, therefore, stand as an illuminating example of politically engaged Shakespeare, speaking to a particular audience at a particular historical moment. Hodgdon (98) applauds the enterprise: ‘By disrupting the traditional formulas for reproducing English history, it not only represents a very different history to the world but opens up that history to critique.’ But the productions, as I have argued, do more than this. In addition to offering a critique of English history and its traditional Shakespearean representation, they also invoke that history as a powerful light by which to view, with due scepticism, our contemporary politics and wars.

Notes 1. Stephen Greenblatt, ‘Invisible Bullets,’ in Shakespearean Negotiations (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 63. 2. Isobel Armstrong, ‘Thatcher’s Shakespeare?’, Textual Practice 3 (1989), 9–10. 3. Videos, recorded during the final public performances, were published in the UK by ITEL in 1990. For changes in cast and production during the run see Michael Bogdanov and Michael Pennington, The English Shakespeare Company: The Story of ‘The Wars of the Roses’ 1986–1989 (London: Nick Hern, 1990), Appendices. 4. The music is the trio section of Sousa’s ‘Stars and Strips Forever’; see T. W. Craik’s Introduction to his Arden 3 edition (London: Nelson, 1995), 88.



6. 7. 8.

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

21. 22. 23. 24. 25.


Shakespeare and War See also Emma Smith’s Introduction to her Shakespeare in Production edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 73. On this episode as viewed at the time see, e.g., Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle for the Falklands (London: Michael Joseph, 1983), 146–50, and Desmond Rice and Arthur Gavshon, The Sinking of the Belgrano (London: Secker and Warburg, 1984). See also Lawrence Freedman, The Official History of the Falklands Campaign, vol. 2 (London: Routledge, 2005), esp. 83–9, 287–93, 736–46. Bogdanov and Pennington, The English Shakespeare Company, 6. Bogdanov and Pennington, The English Shakespeare Company, 48. Samuel Crowl, in Shakespeare Observed (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1992), 159, and Ros King (private communication), both took the latter view as audience members. My own impression is based on the video. Crowl, Shakespeare Observed, 145. Bernard McElroy, ‘The Plantagenets in Chicago,’ Shakespeare Quarterly 39 (1988), 498. McElroy, ‘The Plantagenets in Chicago,’ 495. MacD. P. Jackson, ‘The Wars of the Roses: The English Shakespeare Company on Tour,’ Shakespeare Quarterly 40 (1989), 208. Melbourne Herald, 1988, cited in Bogdanov and Pennington, English Shakespeare Company, 180–1. Bogdanov and Pennington, English Shakespeare Company, 30–1. Jackson, ‘The Wars of the Roses,’ 211. Roger Warren, ‘Shakespeare in England, 1986–87,’ Shakespeare Quarterly 38 (1987), 360. Cited in Hastings and Jenkins, The Battle for the Falklands, 240; see also 237–53 and 293–306. See R. Scott Fraser’s, Diana Henderson’s, and Madalina Nicolaescu’s essays in this volume. Warren, ‘Shakespeare in England, 1986–87’, 360. See also Crowl, Shakespeare Observed, 142–64. Olivier’s cinematic technique depicts Henry and Katherine already thinking of each other in romantic terms. A 2003 British stage version directed by Nicholas Hytner for the Royal National Theatre went even further than Bogdanov in providing justification for Katherine’s resistance to Henry: she watched the Harfleur speech on television, and was clearly horrified at the man and politics to which she was to be sacrificed. Cf. Henderson’s analysis of ‘the linkage between militarism and financial gain’ elsewhere in this volume. See Hodgdon, especially 209–11. Her account of the ending of Henry V reflects a performance somewhat different in detail from that in the video. Lois Potter, ‘Recycling the Early Histories: ‘‘The Wars of the Roses’’ and ‘‘The Plantagenets’’,’ Shakespeare Survey 43 (1991), 172. Potter, ‘Recycling the Early Histories,’ 172. This Status Quo song was, according to Bogdanov, the number one hit at the time of rehearsals in 1986 (Bogdanov and Pennington, English Shakespeare Company, 58). Jackson, ‘The Wars of the Roses,’ 211, 210.

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27. Stanley Wells, ‘Shakespeare Performances in London and Stratford-uponAvon, 1986–7,’ Shakespeare Survey 41 (1989), 160–2. 28. Armstrong, ‘Thatcher’s Shakespeare?’, 11–12. See also Potter, ‘Recycling the Early Histories,’ 180. 29. Armstrong, ‘Thatcher’s Shakespeare?’, 12. 30. Crowl, Shakespeare Observed, 144–5. 31. ‘Falstaff’, the name used throughout the ESC productions, and in most editions of 1 Henry IV, is used here in preference to Oxford’s ‘Sir John Oldcastle’. 32. See, e.g., Jackson, ‘The Wars of the Roses,’ 210. 33. Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage and her Children, tr. Eric Bentley (London: Methuen, 1962), 60. The image of Helene Weigel as Courage on her wagon in the famous Berliner Ensemble production is widely reproduced. 34. Brecht, Mother Courage, 17. 35. Bogdanov and Pennington, English Shakespeare Company, 111. 36. Jackson points out that the ‘Adagio for Strings’ is ‘forever associated with the modern equivalent of the ‘‘deaths of kings’’ through having so haunted the airwaves in the days following John Kennedy’s assassination’ (‘The Wars of the Roses,’ 208; see also Hodgdon, 125). Bogdanov acknowledges that ‘it was a trick picked up from the film Platoon’ (Bogdanov and Pennington, English Shakespeare Company, 109).

17 Meditations in a Time of (Displaced) War: Henry V, Money, and the Ethics of Performing History Diana E. Henderson

‘How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?’ John Kerry before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 23 April 1971. November 11, 2003: On US Veterans’ Day – the holiday created to commemorate the Armistice ending ‘The War to End All Wars’ – The New York Times Science section contained an article entitled ‘Is War Our Biological Destiny?’ As other media ‘celebrated’ soldiers killed in Iraq as ‘fallen heroes’ (a ritual maintained even years later when public opinion about the war had soured), Natalie Angier’s comments indirectly challenged that behaviour: the ‘heartening if admittedly provisional opinion’ of scientific researchers, she noted, is that the desire for war is not innate but instead a cultural habit that could therefore be changed, as widespread acceptance of slavery had been. Yet ‘Wars are romanticized, subjects of an endless, cross-temporal, transcultural spool of poems, songs, plays, paintings, novels, films. The battlefield is mythologized as the furnace in which character and nobility are forged; and, oh, what a thrill it can be.’ Angier quoted war correspondent Chris Hedges, author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning: ‘ ‘‘The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction’’; even with its destruction and carnage, he writes, war ‘‘can give us what we long for in life.’’ ’1 Of all Shakespeare’s works, Henry V is most obviously implicated in this ‘cross-temporal, transcultural spool’ and continues to be used in the direct service of militarism. In the years after ‘9–11’, it was famously issued to US soldiers bound for Afghanistan and Iraq, and repeatedly 226

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invoked in speeches by Attorney General Ashcroft, the Secretary of the Air Force, and on websites supporting military actions.2 This use of Henry V was a top-down policy; furthermore, it pointed towards a peculiar involvement of ‘Shakespeare’ with the architects of the Iraqi war (most notably crossover artist Kenneth Adelman, to whom I shall ultimately return). Such use was far from new: for centuries this play has been produced in times of armed conflict to boost British morale, from the 1740s anti-Jacobite production (subtitled French Policy Defeated), John Philip Kemble’s anti-Revolutionary 1789–92 version (subtitled The Conquest of France), through F. R. Benson’s 1914 staging to Laurence Olivier’s 1944 film. Its seamless transference to a ‘war of choice’ in Iraq, initiated by an (unequal) Anglo-American alliance, extended and adapted that British nationalist tradition. Granted, Henry V has also been a vehicle of anti-war protest or satire in Michael Kahn’s 1969 anti-Vietnam, Michael Bogdanov’s 1986 post-Falklands, and Nicholas Hytner’s 2003 National Theatre productions. But even when the ugliness of battle is accentuated (as through onstage garrottings in Adrian Noble’s 1984 RSC staging), often war’s function as a crucible of character continues to implicate the play in a destructive dynamic. The king’s verbal dominance and the play’s structure make it difficult to sustain critical distance from him even when one accentuates the negative possibilities (the Chorus as inaccurate jingoist, the women as victims, etc.). Thus, as a review of a 2003 production in George W. Bush’s home state concluded of Henry and Henry respectively, . . . one can clearly read the sorrow and the outrage he feels over so much bloodshed. He is the leader who comes to see firsthand the cost of war, and it changes him. With a new humility, he gently wipes the blood from the face of one of his soldiers. Wars turn on the character of the men and women who fight them. If A[ustin] S[hakespeare] F[estival]’s King Henry V is instructive in nothing else, it is in this. With the bloodshed in Iraq still so fresh, with so much talk still about what the war was [sic] about and what its aftermath will be, that is a lesson worth considering.3 The optimistic blindness of a reviewer who fell for his own leader’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ rhetoric should not blind us to that paragraph break and the banality of evil in his matter-of-fact transformation of war from an activity legitimising killing into an opportunity for moral improvement, even if the writer intended this as a sobering warning against future triumphalism. Nor should it blind us to the typicality of its way


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of interpreting Henry V. Clearly, we learn with and through Henry here, our arc of discovery paralleling – and hence limited to – his own. And despite the fact that Henry V, like Hamlet, is a meditation upon, not merely an enactment of, its genre, in performance the force and verbal dexterity of its victorious main character become hard to resist. His acquisition of the French throne – theoretically by ‘inheritance’, actually through warfare – provides the play’s unifying and (for him) ultimately comic arc. By the later acts, it is indeed easy to forget that Henry chose to create the conditions that led to this ‘sorrow and outrage’. The characters surrounding Henry express divergent attitudes towards his actions, and the dynamic variation between scenes reminds us that we, like the characters, are constantly involved in interpreting the meaning of his history. But whether in performance such appraisals effectively undermine our bonding with the leading soldier who now appears ‘thrown’ into a maturation process, and whether we thereby elude the lure of war as ‘a force that gives us meaning’ – there’s the rub. The difference between Shakespeare’s verbal representation of the battle of Agincourt and the visual lushness of that battle in both Olivier’s and Kenneth Branagh’s films (whether sunny or muddy) is hardly news; what remains more perplexing is how to use knowledge of that difference to avoid replicating, if not direct endorsement of militarism, an illusion of weary necessity and superior insightfulness on the part of the English warrior as he devastates the French countryside. Shakespeare subordinates the political complexities of ‘France’ at its moment of late-feudal disintegration in order to explore the formation of English nationalism. To what extent do modern productions of Henry V sustain – even when trying to think otherwise – that kind of simplified nationalism which perpetuates war? Are Henry V’s performative pleasures so adverse to distancing us from the king’s brooding but ‘necessary’ militarism that only a radically Brechtian dramaturgy can provide an antidote to its charming violence? Focusing on the battlefield of Agincourt, that textual crux and crucial text for the mythologising of what Chris Hedges reminds us is ‘organized murder’, perhaps we can imagine a more fruitful form of dialogue among those scholars and performers concerned about the morality of representing war as entertainment.

Dramaturgical perspectives The gaps of time and place between Henry’s early fifteenth-century world and Shakespeare’s late sixteenth-century play, acknowledged by the Chorus’s opening lines, establish two different perspectives on the French

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campaign. Though the audience cannot see ‘the warlike Harry, like himself’ at Agincourt, it will know of his victory in advance; thus what (the fictionalised) Henry cannot see, the audience can.4 As the play proceeds, vaulting rhetoric and comedy move that audience nearer to Henry’s perspective. When watching skilled actors besiege Harfleur or worry before Agincourt, we may actually feel we are witnessing Henry and his men alive and imperilled in France once more. At some level, of course, we never fully lose consciousness that these are actors rather than historical participants, nor that the actions represented are long since past. The double distancing generated by history and theatrical impersonation persists, and allows forms of pleasure distinct from (and, one hopes, at odds with) the actual witnessing of slaughter. Such historical distancing is compounded in modern performance, which adds to the mix a third temporal layer: our present day and its concerns. Because the early modern rivalry between England and France per se no longer conjures fear nor justifies violence, it becomes easier – some theatre artists might say necessary – to shift the dramatic focus away from the specifics of the historical conflict entirely. With this alteration, Shakespeare’s meditation on the relationship between (the decline of) late feudalism and (the formation of) the early modern nation disappears. This is true even when the production announces itself as ‘historical’, rather than abstract or allegorical. Indeed, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards such productions have tried to overcome the very performative distance that the Prologue announces. In the pageants of Charles Kean (1859) and Charles Calvert (1872, 1874–5, and 1879), fifteenth-century chronicle accounts of Henry’s triumphant return to London after Agincourt were replicated in sumptuous detail, including the crowds, dancers, horses and costumes. Such spectacle was the culmination of a half century of scenic elaboration based on historical study, including William Macready’s 1839 diorama of the English fleet and full-scale siege of Harfleur. All this fact-based specificity might at first glance imply a dedication to precisely the awareness of temporal change that allows ideological criticism. In effect, however, the added scenes emphasised instead uncritical presence, a kind of historical witnessing as endorsement. The specific choice of scenes further contributed to Henry’s glorification by shifting more attention to his triumph and away from his struggle. Seeming to invert this last shift of emphasis, Branagh’s film, like Olivier’s before him, represents the Chorus’s unrepresentable field of Agincourt – in mud rather than sunlight, with deaths in slo-mo and


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a swelling score. But ultimately and ironically, this visualisation of violence likewise underscores Henry’s personal triumph, his words still inspiring and shaping the battle as a hard-fought victory. Branagh’s own comments about the filming of Agincourt are most revealing. Having laboured to create a long tracking shot that was intended to illustrate vividly the devastation caused by the battle, he concluded that at least ‘There would be no question about the statement this movie was making about war.’5 More wishful thinking can hardly be imagined. The fundamental problem lies, of course, in thinking that ‘war’ is a separable part of the film, distinct from the overarching, primarily sympathetic focus on Henry’s development as a young king. In part by following the script, Branagh has made clear that the intelligent, militarily disadvantaged king adapts to his environment well and has good luck; furthermore, because this young man shows no specific pleasure in killing, the war seems thrust upon him rather than pre-emptive, his goal an abstracted ‘right’ rather than devastation. The camera remains focused upon him as a wretched woman tries to attack him in the aftermath of battle so that one is led to feel pity for, rather than identification with, her. Henry’s originary agency – his choice to initiate this invasion – has long been displaced by attention to his fortitude, passion and brotherly concern, the ‘character and nobility’ forged in Bellona’s ‘furnace’. Moreover, visual spectacle here becomes the only marker of specificity and historical ‘difference’: the acting style and characterisation satisfy modern conventions of psychological realism.6 Indeed, modern versions of Henry V are often more concerned with psychological or artistic freedom than with national politics: they appeal to audiences with little interest in conventional notions of history. Even when political allegorisation would seem inescapable, the personal may trump it. Recalling his first viewing of Olivier’s film in war-ravaged Florence, Franco Zeffirelli makes no mention of his own involvement in the Italian underground resisting Hitler. Instead he compares Henry’s story to his intimate relationships and career trajectory: the film gave young Franco the confidence to oppose his father’s wishes and become an artist.7 Henry V thus functions as a story of personal liberation, of an individual underdog overcoming unspecified obstacles, rather than as the representation of a (military) solution to territorial struggle. And when this happens, even visual signs of history no longer induce critical thinking; instead, like the Calvert and Kean productions, they lead the audience to believe ‘they were there’, the immediacy of film’s presence trumping awareness of historical distance.

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But what if, instead of bemoaning this lack of historicist effect, we consider redeploying the power of performance in conjuring presence? This turn need not bracket historical questions. Quite the contrary: on the most fundamental level, I believe we must persist in arguing for an historical sensibility. If one is to displace the assumption that war is innate and inevitable, one must posit – and more importantly, be able to observe and prove – that there can be fundamental changes in the ways people normatively regard and behave within large social structures over time. However, it is equally clear that the past twentyodd years of historicist scholarship have not prompted much activist intervention in politics beyond those issues involving personal identity formation. While an historicist consciousness may be a necessary condition for advocating an ethical imperative in performance, it is clearly not a sufficient one. And while the political theory and performance emphases of Brecht may indeed contain all the ingredients needed to promote the kind of effect on audiences that could lead to a refusal – or at least a questioning – of militarism, again, the demand for emotional engagement and individual subjectivity (especially in the United States) tends to conspire against their successful application. At least as a pragmatic supplement to historicist scholarship, then, I argue for using dramatic presence differently – neither to alienate us from character through overtly anti-illusionist techniques, nor to endorse the normative story of masculine maturation as a battle won. If the nineteenth century could use historical spectacle to endorse the British imperial self-image, and the twentieth century often used it to confirm the importance of individual character development, could the twenty-first use it to undo the mystique of war through systemic juxtaposition of individuated charisma with the crass realities in fact buried within Henry V? Put another way, could there be a Charles Kean of non-violence?

Money Branagh’s battle undermines the director’s stated intention of countering Olivier’s celebratory Agincourt. More importantly, the individualist reading of Henry’s story has become so powerful that it overwhelms attempts to look elsewhere. But rather than accepting that the battle leads to Henry’s happy ending, what if one uses visual and textual markers to accentuate – alongside, not instead of, Henry’s charismatic triumph – the power of money? This choice highlights the material motivation for war denuded of its ideological and ethical claims, its justificatory mythology. Returning to a fundamental difference in interpretation between both


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films and the script that they now overshadow in popular perception, I suggest an approach that Captain Gower might call an economic ‘correction’. Rather than denying the formal logic and market imperatives that drive performance to address the immediate present, our energies are better dedicated to shifting that contemporary frame from one dominated by psychology to one that involves psychology with economics. The battle of Agincourt serves not only as the crux for Henry’s conquest but also as an opportunity to expose the war as fraud. Three acts build toward the encounter, and the combination of ‘a little touch of Harry in the night’ plus the battle spectacle makes act four the rousing climax of both film versions (4.0.47). But how does the play work when the text is followed more closely in performance? What we actually see of the battle then is surely a ‘brawl ridiculous’, due less to its smaller scale than the playwright’s choice of which participants to show (4.0.51). Although the poeticised deaths of York and Suffolk are recounted, the only ‘battle’ scene actually represented is Pistol’s capture of Monsieur le Fer – the conquest of France writ small indeed. Contrasted with the Shrewsbury showdown between Hal and Hotspur in Henry IV, Part One, the absence of any scripted encounter between Henry and his French foes becomes all the more telling. To see the ignorant Englishman Pistol relying on a clever (soon-to-be dead) boy to line his pockets with French coin certainly signals a falling off from the rhetoric of the Crispin’s day speech – and a means to interrogate it. Here, then, one finds an alternative emphasis to the notion that war is a ‘force that gives us meaning’ and that this ‘meaning’ involves individual character-building. Instead, this singular battlefield encounter with the ‘enemy’ serves as a farcical epitome of systemic corruption, foregrounding the economic motive that repeatedly jars with the rhetoric of warrior glory. Money, in fact, is everywhere at issue in this play. In the play’s opening scene, the English bishops scheme to avoid the (numerically-itemised) loss of their ‘temporal lands’ and income by offering a huge lump-sum payment to the king, ‘touching France’ (1.1.7ff, 79). In act 2, the conspirators, Cambridge, Scroop and Grey, are ‘three corrupted men’ whose ‘hollow bosoms’ are filled with ‘treacherous crowns’ – not the lineal crown of England but the ‘gilt of France’ (2.0.21–2, 26). While often remarked upon as Shakespeare’s ‘cover up’ of the inheritance issues motivating that (Yorkist) conspiracy, these lines seem more interesting for what they do show and tell. Follow the money: in his moment of private anguish before battle, Henry hopes the ‘God of battles’ will ‘steel’ his soldiers’ hearts and ‘Take from them now / The sense of reckoning’ – and then recalls with exceptional numerical

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specificity his gestures to assuage the guilt of England (‘Five hundred poor’, ‘twice a day’, ‘two chantries’; 4.1.286–8, 295, 296, 298). Even when arguing (in disguise) with his own men about kingly responsibility, Henry’s inappropriate choice of analogy is mercantile enterprise – eliding the obvious distinction between accidental mishaps and war’s essential murderousness. Long before French nobles (oh gilt indeed) ‘lie drowned and soaked in mercenary blood’ on the field of Agincourt, Henry V is awash in mercenary matters (4.7.75). The night before battle, Henry struggles to assert the body’s primacy, the individuated heroic or suffering man who weeps ‘more contrite tears’ than Richard’s corpse sheds ‘drops of blood’ – though here, as throughout, quantification intrudes to muddle his own distinctions (4.1.293–4). Indeed, Henry’s speech collapses with the recognition that the ‘more’ he would do is ‘nothing worth’, his actions coming after and unable to undo the facts of usurpation and murder (4.1.299, 300). It perhaps seems churlish to observe that the very action Henry now desires, the ‘steeling’ of hearts, aims at further acts of usurpation and murder if viewed through French eyes. Psychologically speaking, within the narrative this moment of reckoning involves conscience, not finance, but it nonetheless leads to Henry’s new mathematics in the morning, when more is less, and ‘the fewer men’ gain ‘the greater share of honour’ (4.3.22). Now he would prefer Westmoreland to have ‘unwished five thousand men . . . [rather] than to wish us one’ (4.3.76–7). And yet, some might say Harry doth protest too much: ‘By Jove, I am not covetous for gold, / Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost . . . Such outward things dwell not in my desires’ (4.3.24–5, 27). In shifting attention to the abstraction ‘honour’ as the only thing he covets, the king gets his Hotspur moment without appearing foolhardy: his reprise of the warrior ethos, complete with glorious scars, appears to make a virtue of necessity. But it was not ‘necessary’ for Henry to cross the channel in the first place; if he did not care for ‘outward things’ (the Crown of France, the crowns of the Church) he would not be risking ‘all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle’ with which Williams earlier discomfited him (4.1.135–6). The real reason Henry’s Crispin’s day rhetoric succeeds so gloriously is that we in the audience know the outcome, that he will win with a minimal body count on his side; had he, like Hotspur at Shrewsbury, gone down fighting, his evasions of agency as a war maker would ring as ‘hollow’ as the ‘hollow bosoms’ of the conspirators, filled with French gilt. Re-enter the ironically metallic Frenchman: immediately after Henry’s vaulting rhetoric and refusal of ransom allows him to forge an idealised


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martial brotherhood, the interplay between metal and mettle returns with a vengeance. Henry may swear he will not be ransomed – or if so, the currency will be ‘these my joints’ rather than gold or silver (4.3.123). But for the soldiers, it is another matter. Pistol, unimpressed with le Fer’s mention of mere ‘brass’ (his mistranslation of ‘ton bras’), wants ‘Crownes, brave Crownes’ (Folio capitalization; 4.4.16, 20, 38). This braggart soldier does not want to hear talk of ‘arms’ but nevertheless threatens death before deciding he will ‘some mercy show’. The juxtaposition is a disturbing one (4.4.64). Even if we regard Pistol as a base aberration, the foil setting off Henry’s lustrous honour, his negotiations dismissing brass in favour of crowns should still remind us that Henry similarly has chosen to create the conditions for battle through a financial deal with the church at home. Moreover, once on French soil the king dismisses a peaceful compromise for more ignoble bargaining: he rejects the offer of the French princess and ‘some petty and unprofitable Dukedoms’ because (as his admiring Chorus phrases it, swiftly glossing over Henry’s motivation and agency) ‘the offer likes him not’ (3.0.30–1). Later he asserts that Princess Katherine is his ‘capital demand’, but she is neither his largest nor his most important financial one. Henry declares that ‘France is mine’ and makes Burgundy and others ‘buy that peace’ which they desire (5.2.175, 70).

Once more unto the breach From the late nineteenth century onward, newspaper reviews have selected out the ‘Once more unto the breach’ speech at Harfleur, the meditation on ceremony and ‘God of battles’ plea before Agincourt, and of course the well-nigh indestructible Crispin’s day speech as discrete, almost detachable entities: as they soared, so did public reception. This evaluative mode shaped theatrical criticism well into the mid-twentieth century. Even reviewers too young to have seen Lewis Waller would hearken back nostalgically to the orator par excellence, who played Henry at the Lyceum (1900) and subsequently toured the United States. When Paul Scofield (RSC 1946) and Richard Burton (RSC 1951) brought quieter moods to their characterisations, the response was decidedly mixed; Burton’s delivery was compared unfavourably to that of Alec Clunes in the more conventional Old Vic production of the same year. During the early 1960s, performance choices and reviewer responses underwent a paradigm shift. The spectacle-and-oratory tradition still evident in Olivier’s film gave way to a more ambivalent representation, epitomised in the difference between Michael Langham’s romantic

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Henry V starring Christopher Plummer (1956) and his anti-romantic version ten years later starring Douglas Rain (both at Stratford, Ontario). The Peter Hall/John Barton War of the Roses cycle (RSC Stratford 1964, later modified by Barton and Trevor Nunn in London) was among the most influential productions in the newer mode. Starring Ian Holm as a calculating politician and workaday soldier, this Henry confronted the squalor and filth of war. Nevertheless, most productions still accentuate the positive when staging Henry V, as attested to by the BBC/Time-Life 1979 video starring David Gwillim, the 1984 New York Shakespeare Festival production starring Kevin Kline, the 1981 Stratford Connecticut version with Christopher Plummer as both Chorus and Henry, and Mark Rylance’s 1997 Globe inaugural. Certainly, the added representations of and emphasis on violence reflect later twentieth-century doubts about war’s cost. By showing the deaths of both le Fer and The Boy, several recent productions have called special attention to the violence of Henry’s victory, and to the fact that each side commits atrocities during battle.8 Increasing the number of dead onstage undoubtedly undermines the sacralised presentation of Henry and English righteousness. However, even when more deaths are shown, they are often presented as ‘necessary’, not willed choices or stains on Henry’s character. Indeed, by presenting the king himself as disturbed by the violence – during his opening scene contemplating the war, after his Harfleur threats, and again at Agincourt – productions such as Branagh’s strive to update Henry as the very model of a modern military leader. The same dynamic holds true for the hanging of Bardolph for theft: it is presented as painful but required for the good of the whole, upholding the honour of the campaign and the law of war. Although Shakespeare’s text has Fluellen report the death as a fait accompli, Alan Howard’s Henry gave the nod commanding it (RSC 1975, dir. Terry Hands); the dead body was brought back onstage in the 1966 Langham production; and when Adrian Noble directed, Bardolph was garrotted onstage. In Branagh’s film, the action is again represented, but more sentimentally: as the king consents to the hanging, a flashback carries us back to his wilder days, making the tear he then sheds a sign of personal loss. The same technique later subordinates Burgundy’s description of France’s devastation to Henry’s memory of his own lamented dead. This focus on Henry’s internal feelings matched fin-de-si`ecle preoccupations, helping explain why many came to find Branagh’s film preferable to Olivier’s more visually inventive version. Seeing his work as a contribution to the war effort, Olivier muted Henry’s personal conflict as well as the threats to unity


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among the English. Yet Branagh’s reluctant killer does no more to stop the machinery of war or the honouring of ‘the good soldier’. Conversely, alienating us from Henry as an individual by making him consciously cruel or unattractive (as attempted, arguably, by the ESC and certainly by Ron Daniels’ 1995 ART production with its amplified threats before Harfleur) will not address the continuing appeal of a ‘just war’ or the reasons it remains easy to recruit a ‘band of brothers’ using Shakespeare’s language. It avoids rather than confronts the charisma and seductiveness of belief which makes Henry a singularly effective proponent of war. If we want to undo the logic of militarism as ugly but ‘characterbuilding’ and ‘necessary’ in a hostile world, perhaps we need to linger instead on the involvement of the economic with the bodily costs. Productions usually seen as ‘anti-war’ have focused on physical mutilation and ugliness, and I do not discredit those choices. But garrotting Bardolph or slitting le Fer’s throat pursues the same line Branagh attempted, and usually with the same overarching effect: the activity of war is exposed as murderous, but its involvement with the king’s character and verbal dexterity remains opaque. By contrast, the linkage between militarism and financial gain is simultaneously explicit in the play’s action and implicit in Henry’s vocabulary, undermining his attempt to rename the killing ‘honour’, simply and exclusively – regardless of whether that attempt is a self-conscious calculation, a sincere expression of his belief, or both. Bringing this connection to the fore in performance, then, would seem a more effective route for those seeking to de-mythologise the activity of war-making itself. This chapter is not, then, a call for a Brechtian rewrite in which the cowardly Pistol becomes Mother Courage. (The ESC’s use of Falstaff, David Carnegie reminds us, pursued this association within its generally satiric history cycle.) But it does suggest the need to return to the fundamental Brechtian insight that pays attention to choice, change, and the responsibility that accompanies human agency, rather than accepting drama as a means to create and perpetuate the illusion of deterministic history (with the concomitant development of human character as independent of those social choices). For starters, I would enjoy seeing more money changing hands in this play, more gold on the table and attention to the treaty-making, more connection between those who steal and those who become steel; this emphasis, after all, is part of Shakespeare’s own mark, his more thoughtful revision of the jingoistic Famous Victories of Henry V. He was the one who constructed the sequence leading directly from the Crispin’s Day speech to the ignoble actions and puffed-up emptiness of Pistol’s rhetoric. Being ‘pro-’ or ‘anti-’Henry is

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ultimately a red herring: the challenge is to capture both the charm and the crassness, highlighting the way in which the former provides a powerful justification for the latter precisely because it appeals to our nobler aspirations and that inherited, mythical ‘spool’.

Corporate Shakespeare As we debate such interpretive choices, we might want to cast our net wider than the stage or screen and consider how Henry V is ‘performing’ in other cultural contexts. For money and militarism were woven together even more insidiously in the political applications of Henry V to the invasion of Iraq than they are in the fabric of the play. Scholars have called attention to the selling of Shakespeare as a corporate consultant, in business classes and manuals such as Shakespeare on Management and Shakespeare in Charge: The Bard’s Guide to Leading and Succeeding on the Business Stage. But Scott Newstrom is among the few to address the deep relationship between that corporate practice and the aggressive new US foreign policy promoted by George W. Bush, an association epitomised in the person of Kenneth Adelman.9 Co-author (with former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine) of Shakespeare in Charge and provider (with his wife Carol) of high-priced executive training seminars through a company called Movers and Shakespeares, Adelman is also a self-proclaimed saboteur of chemical weapons treaties, signatory to the 5 April 2002 letter calling for Bush to oust Saddam Hussein and increase support for Israel, and famous for asserting that ‘liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk . . . This President Bush does not need to amass rinky-dink nations as ‘‘coalition partners’’ to convince the Washington establishment we’re right.’10 How does Adelman continue to exert power with that ‘Washington establishment’ when his assessments (‘I have no doubt we’re going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction’) are so notoriously inept?11 At $10,000 a seminar, Adelman teaches a glorified session of Shakespeare in performance that elides Henry V and history, business practice and feel-good (mis)reading, and thereby gains the goodwill of putatively ‘neutral’ media figures, such as newswoman Cokie Roberts (visible on the company website). His book meanwhile garnered promotional blurbs not only from Bush’s former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Reagan Chief of Staff (and convicted perjurer) Michael Deaver but also billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffet and this rave review from the ‘liberal’ journalist Sam Donaldson: ‘No one explains life better


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than Shakespeare. And no one explains Shakespeare better than Ken Adelman.’ For those of us who imagine that professional theatre (Shakespearean or otherwise) might be playing a serious role in challenging the arrogant belligerence displayed in Adelman’s language, there is another chastening dimension to this story. For Adelman was not only a member of the Defense Policy Board but also the board of the Shakespeare Theater of Washington DC, run by Michael Kahn – once noted for his anti-Vietnam Henry V. It is not only politics that makes strange bedfellows, for in April 2004 the Shakespeare Theater held a ‘mock debate’ fundraiser, featuring Adelman alongside David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, Arianna Huffington, and others, arguing the merits not of the Iraqi invasion (directly), but of Henry V’s invasion of France in 1415. Using Shakespeare’s play as the pretext for a discussion by ‘Washington establishment’ talking heads, this version of making Shakespeare relevant accorded with Movers and Shakespeares’ simplification of Henry’s ‘leadership lessons’. History was again invoked with the flimsiest of interest in what we might learn from its otherness; it added, instead, the cultural cachet to raise cash.12 It is not easy to sustain a commercial theatre company without major government arts funding, and I recall this event not to take a potshot at Kahn’s theatre – ‘legitimacy’ and fraud are as interwoven in the arts-world and academia as anywhere – but as a reminder of where the wider public now gets its Shakespeare news, its Shakespeare, and its news. In this instance, it was ‘embedded’ in the Washington Post’s ‘Style’ section – although, following the threads Newstrom ably unravels, this arguably was the culmination of over two years of sustained effort by Adelman and others in the administration to ‘sell’ the correspondence of Bush with an heroic version of Henry. Even as the oft-invoked ‘American public’ began to realise the fraud of its own seduction by noble rhetoric and limited intelligence, this ‘mock debate’ was Shakespeare-as-entertainment in a company town, catering to the crowds who parade the boys off to ‘France’ – only to be horrified at their slaughter. Nor was this crossover phenomenon confined to Washington insiders: at the 2006 Shakespeare Association of America conference in Philadelphia, Adelman was given academic legitimacy as panelist at one of the limited number of large, high-profile sessions. There was, however, one voice of conscience on that Washington night back in 2004 – the voice familiar to viewers of Branagh’s film as Mistress Quickly. Judi Dench embodied a ray of hope this time in the double role of debate judge and as herself. Ultimately she refused, as a Quaker, to cede to the debate’s central premise that there could be a just vs. unjust

Diana E. Henderson


military invasion, and so (in a Friendly way) refused to name a victor. In her youth having played the prize itself – the ‘capital demand’ Princess Katherine, opposite Robert Hardy’s Henry V in BBC’s An Age of Kings television series – Judge Judi would no longer follow the script. Even if this (like much theatre?) functioned only as a symbolic action that enabled a jovial conclusion, it at least widened the theoretical field of debate to include no just war at all. Until that stance is taken seriously as something more than a fringe religious position or na¨ıve blindness – that every act of war (even if situationally necessary) is per se a failure rather than a potential occasion for triumph and heroism – the evolutionary ‘solution’ to large-scale conflict will indeed remain confined to imaginary stages. In the same newspaper article with which I began, a primatologist and psychology professor gestures at a different way of reading the morality of money circulating between nations – one utterly at odds with Henry’s warrior rhetoric yet perpetuating his imaginary dichotomy between gold and military glory. Dr Frans de Waal speaks in a way that at first might appear to undo the logic of Henry’s charisma, his way of travelling abroad, and his comic turn to international love. As Dr de Waal and many others see it, the way to foment peace is to encourage interdependency among nations, as in the European Union. ‘Imagine if France were to invade Germany now,’ he said. ‘That would upset every aspect of their economic world’, not the least one being France’s reliance on the influx of German tourists. ‘It’s not as if Europeans all love each other’, Dr de Waal said. ‘But you’re not promoting love, you’re promoting economic calculations.’ Perhaps Dr de Waal’s materialist optimism will be fulfilled – but that all depends upon who gets to do the calculating. Because it is still too often true that economic calculations (coupled with or masquerading under another name such as ‘honour’ or ‘freedom’) are precisely what lead us to the battlefield. And still too often we simply accept the use of Shakespeare’s words to dress up the cause and cheer on the troops. The venality of evil continues to be treated as an aberration, an ‘outrage’ to be bracketed off from the ‘honourable’ main military action, like Bardolph’s stealing of the pyx, even as the evidence of centuries proves that war binds them together.13 By demystifying that aspect of the transcultural spool when we represent Shakespeare, perhaps modern performance and interpretation can participate in a more immediate practical ethics, one that traces the connections between bodies and ‘crowns’ of all sorts, and that requires us to count all the bodies whether they are of ‘name’ or not, on our side or not, as attentively as the world indices are now, hourly,


Shakespeare and War

counting disembodied currencies. Only then might we one day have fewer bodies to count.

Notes 1. Hedges provides a scathing account of war’s romanticisation, citing Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida as more apt than Henry V, which he regards as implicated in the logic that perpetuates war. 2. The 2002 Dover edition was one of four books issued as ‘Armed Services Editions’; see Scott Newstrom, ‘ ‘‘Step aside, I’ll show thee a president’’: George W as Henry V?’ See also‘[Prepared] Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft,’ EOUSA Director’s Awards, November 6, 2002: the speech elides the historical battle and Shakespeare’s dramatisation (as well as policing and the ‘war on terror’), selectively quoting the Crispin’s Day speech before announcing that ‘Six hundred years later, history beckons yet again. We, too, cannot escape the challenge placed before us. It is more than a duty, and more than a privilege; it is the calling of our time. And I, too, do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation.’ http://www. The play’s use on soldiers’ discussion and right-wing websites is chastening for those who believe in contextual precision: see: seaservices/8 38/commentary/25429-1.html, gertillman.html, and General comparisons between George W. Bush and Henry became ubiquitous in print media across the political spectrum. 3. Robert Faires, ‘King Henry V: Life During Wartime,’ The Austin Chronicle (8.5.2003). Posted on html. 4. Prologue 5. I cite Craik’s Arden 3 Henry V (and relevant variants from the First Folio). Space forbids situating my argument within the substantial bibliography on the play, its texts, and its performance from which I have benefited. 5. Kenneth Branagh, Beginning (London: Chatto & Windus, 1989), 236. 6. William B. Worthen, Shakespeare and the Force of Modern Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003), 69. See Richard W. Schoch, Shakespeare’s Victorian Stage: Performing History in the Theatre of Charles Kean (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998) on Kean’s nineteenth-century historicism, which works somewhat differently. Olivier’s film makes Agincourt the most ‘real’ section of the narrative in terms of these filmic conventions. 7. Franco Zeffirelli, Zeffirelli: An Autobiography (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986). 8. In Michael Langham’s 1966 Henry, The Boy was killed, Pistol cut le Fer’s throat, and Williams entered limping and bloody after battle. Under Matthew Warchus’s direction (RSC 1994), Pistol was made physically sick by the

Diana E. Henderson


requirement that he ‘Coup’ la gorge’ of le Fer at the end of 4.6, and David Carnegie in this volume notes that the ESC’s Pistol was made sick specifically by the crowns lost. My added interest lies in connecting these scenes and Henry’s charismatic rhetoric. Amongst other sources, I draw on Sandra L. Williamson and James E. Person, Jr., Shakespearean Criticism: Excerpts from the Criticism of Shakespeare’s Plays and Poetry, from the First Published Appraisals to Current Evaluations (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991), Vol. 14. 9. Even Newstrom underestimates the connection: ‘If you think the business world fawns excessively over Henry, just wait until you hear what the Right does with him.’ Adelman is of interest precisely because he represents the convergence of those two models. Others who have looked at these manuals include Donald K. Hedrick, ‘Bardguides to the New Universe,’ in Richard Burt (ed.), Shakespeare After Mass Media (New York: Palgrave – now Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 35–57, and (in a presentation to the SAA 2004) Peter Holland, but neither mentions the political agenda that makes the manuals’ ‘bad’ readings more than professionally frustrating. 10. ‘Cakewalk in Iraq,’ The Washington Post (13.2.2002), A27. Adelman was Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency 1983–7 under Reagan: see k/ademan k.php. Michael Krepon comments on Adelman’s use of arms control negotiations to mask the chemical weapons build-up he desired (and his ubiquitous invocation of Shakespeare): Adelman acknowledges the cynicism behind the Reagan administration’s verification proposals (anywhere/anytime inspections without a right of refusal) for the draft treaty to abolish chemical weapons. ‘This seemingly nifty approach,’ he writes, ‘had one slight problem – we could not live with it.’ When the Soviets unexpectedly called the US bluff, the administration had to ‘search for other grounds for stalling.’ Adelman promoted this treaty, which he opposed, because it was ‘the only real way of enticing Congress to fund the chemical weapons program we needed.’ The reasons for such candor are puzzling. Adelman is heavily implicated when he cites Shakespeare: ‘What tangled webs we do weave when first we practice to deceive,’ yet there is none of the master dramatist’s sense of reckoning or balancing of accounts. Presumably, it is harmless to advance unacceptable proposals as long as arms reduction agreements are avoided. Review of The Great Universal Embrace, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 46, 7 (Jul/Aug. 1990); html. The mixture of seeming frankness and layered deception may in fact signal that Adelman is more Henry-like than his manual and critics recognise. 11. Mike Allen and Dana Milbank, ‘Question of the Day Dogs Administration Officials,’ The Washington Post (23.3.2003), A27. 12. See Bob Thompson, ‘The King and We: Henry V’s War Cabinet. Mock Debate at Shakespeare Theatre Has Familiar Ring,’ The Washington Post (18.5.2004), C1. For insightful analysis of its ‘just war’ premise, see David L. Perry, ‘Using


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Shakespeare’s Henry V to Teach Just-War Principles,’ http://home.earthlink. net/∼davidlperry/henryv.htm 13. To say this in no way dishonours those compelled to follow orders, nor does it deny that many soldiers (thankfully, despite everything) adhere to codes of integrity and service; it simply acknowledges what war in its totality entails, the conditions it creates, and the reason it was a soldier who said ‘war is hell’.

Select Bibliography

Unless otherwise stated, all quotations from the plays are taken from: Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (eds), The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. Giorgio Melchiori (ed.), King Edward III, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Arnold, Thomas. The Renaissance at War. London: Cassell, 2001. Cogswell, Thomas. The Blessed Revolution: English Politics and the Coming of War, 1621–1624. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Courtney, Richard. Shakespeare’s World of War. Toronto: Simon and Pierre Publishing, 1994. Digges, Thomas. An Arithmetical Warlike Treatise named Stratioticos. London: Richard Field, 1590. Edelman, Charles. Shakespeare’s Military Language: A Dictionary. London: Athlone Press, 2000. Eltis, David. The Military Revolution in Sixteenth-Century Europe. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1995. Favier, Jean. La Guerre de Cent Ans. Paris: Fayard, 1980. Froissart, Jean. Chroniques, Ed. Peter F. Ainsworth and George T. Diller. Paris: Librairie G´en´erale Franc¸aise, 2001. Garrard, William. The Arte of Warre. London, 1591. Goldberg, Jonathan. James I and the Politics of Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. Griffin, Benjamin. Playing the Past: Approaches to English Historical Drama 1385– 1600. Woodbridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2001. Hale, J. R. Renaissance War Studies. London: Hambledon, 1983. Hall, Bert S. Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Hillman, Richard. Shakespeare, Marlowe and the Politics of France. Basingstoke: Palgrave – now Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Hodgdon, Barbara. The End Crowns All: Closure and Contradiction in Shakespeare’s History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991. Holmes, Robert L. On War and Morality. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. Holt, Mack P. The French Wars of Religion, 1562–1629. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Hortmann, Wilhelm. Shakespeare on the German Stage: The Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Houston, S. J. James I. Harlow: Longman, 1995. Jorgensen, Paul. Shakespeare’s Military World. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1956. 243


Select Bibliography

Keen, Maurice (ed.). Medieval Warfare: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. King, Ros. Cymbeline: Constructions of Britain. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. McCoy, Richard. The Rites of Knighthood: The Literature and Politics of Elizabethan Chivalry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. McIlwain, Charles Howard (ed.). The Political Works of James I. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1918. McMullan, Gordon and Jonathan Hope (eds). The Politics of Tragicomedy: Shakespeare and After. London: Routledge, 1992. Meron, Theodor. Bloody Constraint: War and Chivalry in Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Meron, Theodor. Shakespeare’s Wars and Shakespeare’s Laws. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. Parker, Geoffrey. The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500–1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Patterson, W. B. King James VI and the Reunion of Christendom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Perroy, Edouard. La Guerre de Cent Ans. Paris: Gallimard, 1943. ´ Plaisse, Andr´e. A travers le Cotentin: La Grande Chevauch´ee guerri`ere d’Edouard III en 1346. Cherbourg: Iso`ete, 1994. Potter, David (ed. and tr.). The French Wars of Religion: Selected Documents. London: Macmillan, 1997. Rackin, Phyllis. Stages of History: Shakespeare’s English Chronicles. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990. Rich, Barnabe. Allarme to England. London, 1578. Somogyi, Nick de. Shakespeare’s Theatre of War. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998. Styward, Thomas. The Paithwaie to Martiall Discipline. London, 1588. Sutcliffe, Matthew. The Practice, Proceedings and Lawes of Armes. London, 1593. Taunton, Nina. 1590s Drama and Militarism. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.

Index acting style, 111–14, 201, 230–1 actors: Ewald Balser, 203; Alfred Balthoff, 201; Richard Burton, 234; Alec Clunes, 234; Gisela von Collande, 203; Iurie Darie, 97, 104; Judi Dench, 238–9; John Gielgud, 154; Aurel Giurumia, 103; Gustav Gr¨ undgens, 154; David Gwillim, 235; Robert Hardy, 239; Steffi Hinzelmann, 201; Ian Holm, 235; Marianne Hoppe, 206; Alan Howard, 235; S¸erban Ionescu, 97; Kevin Kline, 235; Gustav Knuth, 206; Fritz Kortner, 141; Vivien Leigh, 154; Laurence Olivier, 153–4; Franco Parenti, 166; Michael Pennington, 215, 217, 218; Christopher Plummer, 235; Gabriela Popescu, 104; Marian Rˆalea, 97; Mark Rylance, 235; Paul Schofield, 234; Silviu St˘anculescu, 97, 105–6; Lewis Waller, 234 adaptation, 6–8, see also Shakespeare’s works in translation and adaptation America, see United States Andrewes, Lancelot, 126–9 Armada, the Spanish, 3, 36 artillery, 36–7 military revolution, 2, 17, 30–1, 36–7 battle of the sexes, see gender difference Berlin Wall, 138, 141, 143 Bible, uses of, 188 Golgotha, 7 Herod, 75–6, 111, 157 in Romanian translation, 133–4 and siege, 25

booty, see looting and plunder Bosnia, 193 Brecht, Bertolt, 5, 109, 139–49 passim, 167: influence of, 217, 220, 228, 231, 236 Berliner Ensemble, see theatres and theatre companies Coriolanus, 142: G¨ unter Grass, Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand, 142–3, 145–7 Leben des Galilei, 146 Die Maßnahme, 139 The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, 109, 111–20, 139 Schweyk in the Second World War, 164 Britain, 8, 10, 223 British Isles, 2 Conservative Party, 9 and Margaret Thatcher, 214, 217 Union of, 46, 48–9 Ceaus¸escu, Nicolae, Romanian dictator and family, 96–107 passim Chaucer, Geoffrey, 62 chevauch´ee, 30, 36, 37–8 chivalry, 2, 37–8, 46, 126, 217, 221, 237–8 Order of the Garter, 30, 35 civil unrest, 58–60, 174–5 civil war, 177, 217 civilians, treatment in wartime, 2, 9, 56–67 class war, 217 classical military practice, 15, 19–21 Aeneias the Tactitian, 26 Cold War, 5 and Romania, 125–6, 133–6 context, see interpretation and reception costume, 102–3, 169, 177, 213–22 passim as Brechtian distancing device, 216–17




Croatia, war in, 183, 191–4 language and literature of, 192 Dekker, Thomas, 110–11 Denmark, 5, 44, 153–4, 158–65 Devereux, Robert, see Essex dialect: ideolect and invented language, 166, 173–4; Milanese, 166; ‘Scottishisms’ 34; Welsh accent and usage, 16, 21, 27 Digges, Thomas, Stratioticos, 15–16 ‘directors’ theatre’, 167 Dutch revolt, see Netherlands Edward III of England, 30–3 Elizabeth I, of England, 3, 30, 44–5, 86 and royal plunder 128 England, 2, 15 claim to France, 30–3, 35, 40 Elizabethan army, 30, 37, 38 royal succession, 32–3 epic, 56–7, 213 epic theatre, 141 Essex, Robert Devereux, Earl of, 9, 47, 126 Fabritius, Carel, 9–10 Falklands war, 214–15, 217 film, see Shakespeare’s plays on film fortification, 16–17, 19 France, 15, 16 English claim to, 30–3 law of succession in, 32–3: Salic Law, 74 wars of religion, 3, 18, 33 Garrard, William, The Art of Warre, 16–28 passim Garter, Order of the, see chivalry. Gascoigne, George, A Larum for London, 28, 127 gender difference, 198, 202–9 see also sexuality

genre, 84 tragicomedy and mixed genre, 4, 15, 22–5, 84–94, 98, 102–7 in The Taming of the Shrew, 201–3 Germany, 5, 9, 197–209 and Denmark, 154 German Shakespeare Society, 140 Gide, Andr´e, 168 Gosson, Stephen, The Trumpet of Warre, 126 Grass, G¨ unter, 142–3, 145–7 Great Britain, see Britain heroes and heroism, 141, 217, 226, 232–3, 238–9 historicism and presentism, 6–8, 231–40 Hitler, Adolph, 112–19 passim, 144, 158, 197 see also Nazis honour, 2, 86–92 see also chivalry; heroes and heroism hostages, 62–3 Hundred Years War, 9, 32, 38 Hungarian rising, 144 interpretation and reception, 168, 183, 213–23, 226–40 context, 183–94 and modern wars: see Bosnia; Croatia; Falklands; Iraq; Vietnam see also Shakespeare’s works in translation and adaptation Iraq, 10, 109, 226–7, 237 Ireland, 2, 15, 47, 49, 85 Italy, 173–5 see also dialect James VI and I, of Scotland and England, 4, 33, 34 neutrality, 86 peace policies, 43–6 Jensen, Johannes V, 154–6, 161, 164–5 just war, 9–10, 22–8, 56, 79–80 and St Augustine of Hippo, 1 see also law and legality in war

Index language, see rhetoric law and legality in war, 9, 25–8, 36, 56, 59–61, 63, 66 see also just war looting and plunder, 25–8, 37–8, 57, 61–3, 127–8 sacking, 74–8 Low Countries, 85–6, 90 see also Netherlands love, see sexuality Machiavelli, Niccolo, ` 60, 127 Marlowe, Christopher, 31 masculinity, see gender difference mathematics, 16, 17, 233 mercenaries, 3, 88 militarism, 125–33, 141–2, 226–8, 236–7 anti-militarism, 112, 231 military ranks, 17–19, 24 military revolution, see artillery money, 226, 231–4, see also ransom M¨ uller, Heiner, 138–49 Germania 3, 138–40, 143–9 Germania Tod in Berlin, 139 Macbeth, 140 Wolokolamsker Chaussee, 139 see also Shakespeare’s works in translation and adaptation Munk, Kaj, 154, 157–65 An Idealist, 157 Cant, 157 Egelykke, 164 Niels Ebbesen, 164 see also Shakespeare’s works in translation and adaptation Mussolini, Benito, 131 Nazis, 5, 141–2, 160–4 and Coriolanus, 111 Erich Kochanowski, 200 Hermann G¨ oring, 154 and Merchant of Venice, 111 and The Taming of the Shrew, 197–209 see also Hitler nation-state, 2–3, 56 nationalism, 39–40, 50


Netherlands, The Dutch revolt, 3, 15, 26–7, 44–5 see also Low Countries non-combatants, 60–1 performance, 6–8, 80, 99–106 see also acting style; Shakespeare’s plays in the theatre Pirandello, Luigi, 167 post-traumatic stress, 18 prisoners, 9, 27, 62–3 propaganda, 4–6, 28, 46 ransom, 23, 38, 62, 65–6, 77, and see money rape, 9, 39, 76–8 traffic in women, 62–3 reception, see interpretation and reception refugees, 59, 62 religion, 44–6, 105, 126–9, 157, 167–73, 197 Catholic Church and ritual, 177, 192 religious unity, 44–53 and secularism, 103–4, 131–5 rhetoric, 20, 56, 58–60, 66, 76, 96, 99–101, 109, 112–20, 125, 131–2, 227–9, 231–3, 238–9 language and discourse, 16, 21–5, 79, 166, 173–4; see also dialect writing, 6, 191–2 ritual, 166–7, 174 Roman warfare, see classical military practice Salic law, see France Scotland, 2; see also dialect Second World War, 3–5, 62, 177, 183, 213–14 phoney war, 5 and German women, 9 and Romania, 125, 130 Sentry, The, see Fabritius sexuality: war and desire, 87–94 in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 186–91 see also gender difference



Shakespeare, William dramaturgy, 6–10, 22–8, 57–67, 71–4, 81–2; 228–40; use of sources, 16–22, 35–6, 76–82, 114: see dialect; language; see also interpretation and reception experience of war, 3 and James I, 46, 52–3 and patriotism, 8–10 and propaganda, 4–6 in fiction, 4–5 Shakespeare’s plays and poems All’s Well that Ends Well, 4, 16, 63, 84–94 Antony and Cleopatra, 60, 84 As You Like It, 198 The Comedy of Errors, 4, 197–8 Coriolanus, 5, 112, 138, 140, 141–9 Cymbeline, 2, 7, 43, 47, 49–51, 52, 84, 141 Edward III, 30–40, 63–7 Hamlet, 3, 5, 84, 140–41, 145–6, 153–65, 197–8, 228 Henry IV, 1, 2, 16, 26, 66, 215, 217, 218, 220 Henry V, 2, 3, 6, 8–10, 15–16, 18, 20–8, 47, 50, 61, 65, 71–82, 109, 111, 125–36, 213–15, 217–18, 222, 226–40: killing of prisoners, 27, 61–3, 80–1, 131, 133, 218, 227; languages and accent 16, 21, 27, 79, 217–18; and corporate management training, 237–9; and economics, 231–40; and justness, 10–12, 79–80; as anti-war protest, 227, 236; see also militarism Henry VI, 60, 66, 109, 215, 217, 218–19, 221 Julius Caesar, 5, 111–20, 141–2, 198 King John, 3, 96–107 King Lear, 43, 47–9, 51, 67 Macbeth, 7, 48–9, 144, 166, 169–78 Measure for Measure, 47–8, 92 The Merchant of Venice, 5, 111, 198 A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 4, 84, 197–8

Much Ado About Nothing, 63, 197–8 Othello, 16–19, 84, 198 Richard II, 215, 216 Richard III, 47, 100, 215–16, 219–23 Romeo and Juliet, 60, 198 Sir Thomas More, 58–9 Sonnets, 183–6: Sonnet 121, 183–94; Sonnet 73, 187 The Taming of the Shrew, 197–209 The Tempest, 43, 51–2, 92 Titus Andronicus, 141 Troilus and Cressida, 85, 87 Twelfth Night, 4, 197–8 The Two Noble Kinsmen, 64–5 The Winter’s Tale, 92 Shakespeare’s plays in the theatre All’s Well (Demi-Paradise, Lancaster Castle, UK), 95 Coriolanus (Com´edie Franc¸aise, Paris, France, 1933), 112 Cymbeline (Diever Shakespeare Company, Netherlands), 84–5 Hamlet: (Old Vic, 1937) 153; (Betty Nansen Theatre, 1935), 158 Henry V: Austin Shakespeare Festival, 227; Benson, 227; Bogdanov, 213–22, 227; Calvert, 229, 230; Hytner, 227; Kean, 229, 230–1; Kemble, 227; Khan, 227, 238; Macready, 229; Noble, 227 King John (Regele Ioan, Theatre of Comedy, Bucharest, Romania), 97–107 The Taming of the Shrew, 197–9: Deutsches Theater, 202–5; J¨ udischer Kulturbund, 199–202; Staatliches Schauspielhaus, 206–7 The Wars of the Roses (UK and world tour, 1986–9), 213–23 see also costume; staging and set design; interpretation and reception Shakespeare’s works in translation and adaptation As You Like It, M¨ uller, 140

Index Coriolanus, 111, 141–2: Brecht, 141–3; Grass, 142–9; M¨ uller, 138–49; Rothe, 112; Dorothea Tieck, 141 Cymbeline, Dorothea Tieck, 141 Hamlet: Jensen, 154–6; M¨ uller, 140–1; Munk, 154, 157–65; Testori, 166 Henry V: Protopopescu, 130–6; Vinea, 131–6 King John: Botta, 97–8; Nicolau, 98, Gont¸a, 98–108 Macbeth: M¨ uller, 140; Testori, 166, 169–78; Verdi, 171, 174 Sonnet 121, Maras, 189 Titus Andronicus: M¨ uller, 140; Dorothea Tieck, 141 Wars of the Roses cycle: Lanoye (Ten Oorlog), 5 in Croatia, 183, 189–94; Denmark, 153–65; Germany, 138–49; 197–209; Italy 166–78; Romania, 96–8, 125–6, 130–6 Shakespeare’s plays on film and TV An Age of Kings (BBC), 239 Henry V (1944, Laurence Olivier), 8, 28, 213, 227–30, 234–5 Held Henry (1964, Peter Zadek), 5 Henry V (1979, BBC/Time Life), 235 Henry V (1989, Kenneth Branagh), 8, 28, 228, 229–30, 235–6, 237 Titus (1999, Julie Taymor), 5 siege, 16, 25–7, 72, 74–9, 99–102 as desire, 90 as allegory, 76 soldiers, 3, 16, 17, 26, 57, 86 counterfeit soldiers, 110–11 Spain, 43, 86 Standing Orders, 16, 26–7 Spaniards, see Spain staging and set design, 104, 143–8 spectacle and mise en sc`ene, 228–31 Stalin, Joseph, 144 Styward, Thomas, The Pathway to Martiall Discipline, 15, 17, 24 surrender, 27, 76


Testori, Giovanni, 166–7 La trilogia degli scarrozzanti, 166–78 theatre directors: Antonin Artaud, 140, 167; John Barton, 235; Michael Bogdanov, 213–23, 227; Ginafranco de Bosio, 167; Martin Brasch, 200; Peter Brook, 142, 167; Ron Daniels, 236; Erich Engel, 141; Eduardo de Filippo, 167; Dario Fo, 167; John Gielgud, 154; Grigori Gont¸a, 97–107, passim Jerzy Grotowski, 167; Gustav Gr¨ undgens, 154; Tyrone Guthrie, 153; Peter Hall, 235; Terry Hands, 235; Leander Haußmann, 139, 148; Heinz Hilpert, 202–5; Nicholas Hytner, 227; Michael Kahn, 227, 238; Michael Langham, 234–5; Adrian Noble, 227, 235; Trevor Nunn, 235; Andr´ee Ruth Shammah, 166, 176; Luigi Squarzina, 167; Giorgio Strehler, 167; Karlheinz Stroux, 206; Joachim Tenschert, 142; Manfred Wekwerth, 142; Fritz Wisten, 200–2; Martin Wuttke, 139, 148 theatres and theatre companies: Berliner Ensemble, 138–49, passim see also M¨ uller and Brecht; Berliner Staatstheater, 154; Berliner Volksb¨ uhne, 199; Deutsches Theater, 198, 202; English Shakespeare Company (ESC), 213–23, 236; J¨ udischer Kulterbund, 198–202; National Theatre (UK), 227; New York Shakespeare Festival, 235; RSC, 227, 234; Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, 238; Shakespeare’s Globe, 235; Staatliches Schauspielhaus am Gendarmenmarkt, 198; Stratford (Connecticut), 235; Stratford (Ontario), 235; Teatro Pier Lombardo, 166; Theater des Volkes, 199; Theatre of Comedy (Bucharest), 96–107



Thirty Years War, 44 Tilney, Edmund, Master of the Revels, 58–9 tragicomedy, see genre translation, see Shakespeare’s works in translation and adaptation United Nations, 9 United States, 10, 226–7 Kenneth Adelman, 227, 237–8 George W. Bush, 227 Vietnam war, 177–8, 227

war, law of, 9, 25–8, 235, see also just war as character building, 226–40, passim and desire, 87–94, 226 and mathematics, 16 as game, 85, 99 women, 9, 57, 208–9 see also gender difference; rape World War II, see Second World War Yugoslavia, 183, see also Croatia and Bosnia