Bawdy, Naughty Bard
"I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'"
Act III, Scene 1
...over that chick flick Romeo and Juliet, but now that I've I learned the truth, I may change my mind.
(Oh, and just to be on the safe side, consider this your official language warnin'.)
A few days ago Scheiss Weekly was talkin' about how gratifiyin' it was to introduce her then sixth-grade students to her favorite Sherlock Holmes short story The Adventure of the Speckled Band. She wrote she knew she'd done good when one of the sixth grade boys was overheard sayin "Now I know what it really means when somebody says 'No shit, Sherlock!'" (Wonder if she told 'em it was really Shakespeare who first said "The game's afoot.")
Anyway, whether she did or didn't, she oughta' be over the moon for this story. Spread it around and we'll have kids sneakin' Shakespeare in the back seat of cars with a "hey diddle diddle" and a "hey nonny no."
"'The plays are absolutely packed with filth,' said academic Héloïse Sénéchal. 'I've found more than a hundred terms for vagina alone.' That the author of As You Like It would, were he alive today, be writing for Viz magazine is implied by Sénéchal's research for the footnotes of a new Royal Shakespeare Company edition of his complete works which promises to be the most candid ever…
Viz, btw, is an adult comic from the Brits, specializin' in juvenile adult crudity, bathroom jokes, sex and violence.
"She claims that previous editions of Shakespeare have been too prudish, and that by using computer techniques she has uncovered unrecognised double entendres."
Bet those computers needed to be hosed down afterward.
"These were aimed at the working classes who crowded into the Globe in London for their fill of bawdy entertainment. Sénéchal has identified seemingly innocuous words such as carrot, pencil and horn as terms for penis, while she pinpoints pie, fruit dish and 'buggle boe' as references to the vagina. 'We are trying to resist the cultural embarrassment that has permeated footnotes in the past,' she said.
I'd say 'buggle boe' was definitely a cultural embarrassment.
"'Shakespeare is now an institution, and there is an assumption, especially in schools, that he was using high rhetoric. But the majority of his audience were labourers, craftsmen, ordinary people being catered for in a popular way. They were as smutty-minded then as we are now.'"…
That noise you hear is the Virgin Queen laughin' in the hereafter.
"The RSC Shakespeare: Complete Works, to be published by Macmillan next year, wears its frankness on its sleeve…"
Not to mention other parts of its anatomy…
"But Professor Stanley Wells, author of Looking for Sex in Shakespeare, said: 'If the best thing you can say about a new edition is that it's filthy, it doesn't say a lot. It's a gimmick, an attempt to grab attention.'"
Well, it should grab the attention of high schoolers at least. And since Romeo and Juliet is a staple of many English classes, here's a cleaned-up excerpt Sénéchal gives from Act II Scene IV. See if you can find the hidden porn.
Mercutio: O here's a wit of cheveril, that stretches from an inch narrow to an ell broad!
Romeo: I stretch it out for that word 'broad'; which added to the goose proves thee far and wide a broad goose.
Mercutio: Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo; now art thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature: for this drivelling love is like a great natural, that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.
Benvolio: Stop there, stop there.
Thank you Benvolio!
Dug up (appropriately) at Dave Barry's Blog who's suspiciously obsessed with big, long
snakes. For what it's worth, Sherlock Holmes' The Adventure of the Speckled Band is about snakes too. I report. You decide.
posted by Harrison at 3:39 PM