diverse interpretations, subverting the text that was received as an
‘Augustan’ epic from different perspectives. Marlowe thus
does not merely exploit tensions within his avowed source, he also
‘ventriloquises’ all these different voices and
simultaneously engages them in conversation, playing on unison,
dissonance and complementarity to dramatic effect. 13 I hope to show that the play thus
This is the first complete English translation of the medical casebook of John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law. Greg Wells has produced a groundbreaking new study which significantly refocuses our attention on John Hall’s scholarship, as well as his compassion. Hall’s community of patients, their illnesses and his treatments are all authoritatively represented. But so too is Hall’s own library. In looking again at Hall’s Latin manuscript, Wells has been able to identify Hall’s many borrowings from other medical textbooks, thereby offering a unique insight into the intellectual climate of early seventeenth-century Stratford-upon-Avon. We have been relying on an abridged version of Hall’s casebook for over three centuries. Wells corrects and augments all previous studies, and in so doing retrieves the hitherto unnoticed conversations that Hall had with his patients, his prayers for their well-being, and thanksgivings for their recovery. John Hall emerges as a scholar physician who was immersed in the best thinking and practice of his age, who regularly consulted sixty books within his easy reach in order to treat all levels of society. Presented in association with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, this generously illustrated edition includes portraits of some of Hall’s patients, pictures of some of the houses he travelled to in order to cure them, of the herbs and plants he most frequently used, and of the kinds of medical equipment on which he relied.
. Hall recorded several conversations with patients, either at the time of consultation or at follow up. Cooke radically abridged these, turning consultations into brisk medical summaries, but in the process losing much of Hall’s personal views on his relationships with patients. These deletions may be explicable as removing matter of little interest to a late seventeenth-century medical readership, for whom the identities of patients would not have been relevant as evidence of successful therapies.
Two other categories of omission, of references to named authors or
1821 : II, 505–506)
Malone’s hopes were dashed: there is no mention of the playwright in the manuscript, an omission that has engendered pages of speculation ever since. According to Joan Lane, the manuscript had been owned by the actor David Garrick prior to Malone (Lane 1996 : xxx–xxxi).
John Hall’s attitude to his patients
Certain themes in Hall’s writing run across more than one case report and it is these more than the details of individual patients which provide an insight into his thinking and attitudes. Many, such as Hall’s conversations with
meeting in London on 17 November 1614, commonly assumed to have been with both Shakespeare and Hall, though Greene did not unequivocally state this. Greene visited ‘my cousin Shakespeare’, ‘to see him how he did’. In the conversation that followed, ‘He [Shakespeare] told me that they assured him they meant to enclose no further than to Gospel Bush […] and he and Mr Hall say they think there will be nothing done at all’ (Ingleby 1885 : iii). Shakespeare was probably reporting Hall’s views based on prior discussions in Stratford, to emphasise their agreement on the
Oxford Handbook . 14 Spenser might be discussed in the context of Neoplatonism, Donne in the context of new science, or ‘new philosophy’. 15 Such examples are myriad. Although some scholars have published on both Spenser and Donne, there has been little crossover work that engages these poets concurrently and extensively; articles and book chapters that put the two in conversation are few and far between, focusing mostly on the few sites of Donne’s direct allusion to or parody of Spenser. 16
The trouble here of course is one of
crystallizes in Feste’s song. Shakespeare’s airy,
seemingly care-free comedy contains a nugget of ineffable pain as it
embodies the playwright’s hope for another reunion in
We can recover one more
significant date in the play: the night when Toby, Andrew, and Feste
held the conversation that
I’d be able to see the face of her earliest childhood hiding in some cavity. Let’s wait… 54
This reads in part like a sensuous revision of Bataille or an erotic reworking of Poe’s Monsieur Valdemar, but the slitting here is at the same time sheer Cixous .
✂ A ‘Cixous cut’ might also be the name for a piece of writing, akin to the oneoff of a sound recording, cutting a disc, or film.
✂ Quick now. Cut.
1 Hélène Cixous, ‘Writing Blind: Conversation with the Donkey’, trans. Eric Prenowitz, in Stigmata: Escaping
. The thing was done, everything apart from the title. I met with my publishers one morning, we sat with coffee around a huge bowl of blueberries and discussed a list of twenty-four possibilities: the earlier working title had been Overlooked ; one of the editors favoured These Things Happen From Time to Time. Two further contenders came from Clarence’s dream: The Tumbling Billows and Where Eyes Did Once Inhabit . None of these seemed right, but how alternative titles can haunt a book! 8 This conversation with the publishers had the overdetermined strangeness
Eden, calling Adam on the telephone. And the first hello, I’m here , it’s Adam’s answer.
At this moment comes the sound, from the seminar room in Sussex, of a bird.
‘Who’s calling there?’ asks Cixous.
‘That’s a seagull’, I tell her.
‘Oh that’s wonderful’, she says.
‘It’s a mother seagull’, I explain (for, like others in the room, I have been aware of this creature from before the start of our telephone conversation, just outside the window of the Medical School, attending to a recently born chick).