Saturday, August 29, 2015

As a Snail through Troilus

With the assembly of my Shakespeare "hard copy" library commenced, and the creation of my digital library also underway, I have begun with Troilus and Cressida.  That is where Professor Garber starts with the on-line lectures that I mentioned, and so that it is where I start.  As she directs, I am to first read the play, then read her discussion of that play in her Shakespeare After All, and finally listen to her lecture. This could take a while.  Really take a while.

I started Troilus Tuesday.  I am still in Act 1 and only in Scene 3.  It takes intellectual stamina and endurance and, of course, time.  The stamina and endurance should improve, but just the frequent reference to the glossary slows one down, and the cake-metaphor in Scene 1 has sent me on a side trip to internet resources to plumb its meaning.  Why would S. plant it so squarely in the play's very first scene of this story about young love (Troilus and Cressida) in Troy during the Trojan War?  (No recourse to Garber's discussion at this point.  I want to see what I can see myself, before entering her class.  If the rest of her is like her introductory lecture, she bowls you over with her views of the subject.  Let me get ready for that.)

So the cake metaphor.  And here's a resource!  "A Cake-Making Image in Troilus and Cressida," by Beryl Rowland in the Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Spring, 1970), pp. 191-194.  I can read this via JSTOR:

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico.

Whether JSTOR is the best for this sort of thing or not, that is where I found the Beryl Rowland reference, and JSTOR offers without charge to non-academic individuals access to three of its titles at a time for a month.

Of course, I knew something was up with the cake metaphor from the beginning.  Not only is its early prominence a signal, but its use by the older man in counseling the younger about patience in winning his true love, especially the use of the word "grinding," had to point away from the kitchen and into the bedroom.  Rowland sees that and offers much more.  Central to the metaphor is that the cake is a wedding cake, used in ancient Rome during the ceremony for a particular kind of marriage.  (Thus, anachronism.  Garber says to watch for those kinds of things, unless Rome got its cake from the Greeks.)

So, then, should I retire, what shall I do?  Read Shakespeare.  That will fill up the time.

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