Vikram Seth - more questions

wgw at wgw at
Fri Mar 21 17:29:54 UTC 1997

>Now, does the sentence 'To work, to work, Macbeth doth shirk.' refer to any
>generally known piece of English literature?
>2. p. 1140 (Chapter 16.20, 2nd-3rd page)

I can't say for sure what it IS, but it is not from Macbeth. The word
(shirk) comes into use well after Shakespeare. Perhaps it is a reference to
what macbeth MIGHT have said when he prepared to kill Duncan.
>[on a cricket match]
>	Pran looked acros at the pavilion section and was completely taken
>	'Oh, Malvolio!' he said, as if he had seen Banquo instead.
>	'What was that?' said Haresh.
>	'Nothing. I suddenly remembered something I had to teach next term.
>Cricket balls, my liege. Something just struck me. No, I - I can't say for
>sure that I recognize him - I think you'd better ask the Calcutta people.'
>Again, the same. The phrase 'Cricket balls, my liege.' Any suggestions?
>Although cricket has been a game since Henry VIII (also called
"stool-ball"), the cricket (insect) is an evil omen in Macbeth. Malvolio is
of course, a character in Twelfth Night. There is, in Much Ado, a reference
to "tennis balls," but I can't remember precisely where.

I think what you have here is pseudo-quotation; that is, characters making
up phrases which they imply are quotes from literature. What you might call
"affected scholarship" or perhaps private jokes alluding to school
experiences. So the people are using Shakespearian names and dialect, but
not actually quoting. 

William G Wall, Ph.D.
Institute for Vaisnava Studies
Graduate Theological Union
PO Box 11216
Berkeley CA 94712
(510) 849-8280 (office)

email: wgw at
Bharata.Srestha.HDG at

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