Saturday, March 7, 2009

RE: Giordano Bruno Digresssion

Gil writes:

Let me add a curious aside on Bruno:

As I received Ernst's and Derek's notes, I was reading Michael Innes's mystery Hamlet, Revenge (1937) [Innes is the pen name of J.I.M. Stewart, an Oxford don], and ran across this:

Giles Gott, the Elizabethan scholar producing an amateur production of Hamlet at Scamnum, a great country estate, "himself had been to Scamnum often enough, but always before he had shed there his professional role of scholar and antiquary. Talking and contriving Elizabethan theatre in the Duchess's drawing-room was disturbing; it induced a self-consciousness such as a Fellow of the Royal Society would feel if asked down to demonstrate the peculiarities of atom and electron. Centuries ago that sort of thing would have marched: when Fulke Greville and Giordano Bruno disputed on the Copernican theory in the drawing-rooms of Elizabethan London; when the noble family of Bridgwater moved through the stately dance and rhetoric of Milton's 'Comus' at Ludlow Castle. But now show was shop; and theatricals were theatricals―and the basic attitude of a scurrying contemporary society to them was that expressed by Sir Thomas Bertram when he put a stop to such nonsense in Mansfield Park.

"Leisure had gone. Of these people gathered here the abler were absorbed in the increasingly desperate business of governing England, of balancing Europe. And the others were not so much leisured as laboriously idle: fussing over Armageddon or demonstrating against brothers in Brazil" (Penguin paperback, 40-41).

Gilbert Findlay

P.S. Derek―did you know that German scientists weighed the dying and calculated that at the moment of death the body lost 5 grams? The conclusion: that's the weight of the departing soul.

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