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Home :: Archive :: 1991 :: June ::
Genre, Satire, *TC*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 150. Monday, 3 Jun 1991.
 
(1)	Date: 	Fri, 31 May 1991 23:21:50 -0400
	From: 	Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
 
(2)	Date: 	Sat, 1 Jun 1991 00:25:06 -0400
	From: 	Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
	Subj:  	Re: SHK 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
 
(3)	Date: 	Sat, 1 Jun 1991 04:14:00 -0400
	From: 	"George Mosley" <MOSLEY@UNC.BITNET>
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
 
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Fri, 31 May 1991 23:21:50 -0400
From: 		Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
Subject: 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
Comment:      	Re: SHK 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
 
Dear Roy Flannagan,
 
Maybe my attitudes towards the play have been shaped by three brilliant
productions I've lucked into and by two critics' analyses.  The critics are
Anne Barton in her introduction to the play in the Riverside text and, more
expansively, Michael Long in a chapter on T&C in his abruptly-taken
out-of-print Methuen volume, *The Unnatural Scene*.  The BBC-TV/Time-Life
video clicks repeatedly for me, and for classes when I show short passages.
Then some of us caught the Berliner Ensemble production across the wall
during the '86 Berlin World Shakespeare Congress.  And last summer at
Stratford the RSC's Swan Theatre production.  The camped-up version you
describe matches a similar production I saw in NYC in the early 70s, the
kind that makes you think about switching to some other field, like maybe
orthodontia.
 
The drama, and the micro-structure of satire, that drives this piece forward
is the anti-climax, what John Clark called the imitation of an unsuccessful
sexual act.  Right off, Troilus says he's not going to fight in these wars,
but then by the end of the scene, abruptly, without explanation, he bolts off
to the battles with Aeneas.  Another anticlimax: the reappearance of Troilus
coming back from the day's combat.  Wait 'til you see T! OooH!  Wait!  You'll
be wowed! . . . [then]  "What sneaking fellow comes yonder?"  The game, I
think, is in reader-response education: "What are you led to expect here?
And what do you really see?"  Anybody who's been in love knows that batty
dynamic of ideals crunching into the actual and then rebounding with
redoubled strength to even higher insanity.  The maniacal energy of a cartoon
character feeds these very human Trojans and Greeks.  The goal of teaching
the piece could be to help ourselves see ourselves driven by the same engines
and made ludicrous by the same human limitations.  I hate to think of how
many faculty meetings resemble those councils in Troy and in the Greek camp.
B-o-r-i-n-g, painfully orderly, and totally inconsequential.  I particularly
like Hector's fabulously anti-climactic decision to go on with the war after
he has laid out an elegant and wise justification for NOT continuing.  These
wrenching defeats, snatched from the very jaws of victory, shape scenes,
speeches, incidents.  I guess that's what I mean by a systematic structure of
satiric action.
 
I have a long walking tour of the T&C text that I sometimes give to classes.
If I can strip away the old CPM Perfectwriter commands, and when I master
file-sending, I'll ask Ken Steele to load it into the SHAKSPER byteholes.
 
(Before I slink away with my satiric diseases, I want to say that I didn't
mean to send two very similar other messages yesterday.  I wrote the first,
and a big chunk of it seemed to get hung up electronically as I hit PF5, the
SEND command.  So I wrote the second and sent it, not knowing Mark I lived.
Oops.)
	             		Heatedly, and a-flap,  Yours,
		     			Steve Urkowitz SURCC@CUNYVM
 
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------------
					
Date: 		Sat, 1 Jun 1991 00:25:06 -0400
From: 		Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
Subject: 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
Comment:      	Re: SHK 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
 
Dear George Mosely,
 
The ideas of satires which repeat what they condemn certainly fit Gulliver,
and I've ben finding lots of places where Dante finds himself doing to
critters in the Inferno exactly the nastiness that they were condemned for:
swooning over Paolo and Francesca's excessive passion, tearing the hair out
of the wrathful, sneering at the overly proud.  Instead of imitating the
messenger from Heaven, Dante the character imitates Vergil.  In the recent
issue of that "Teaching Medieval and Renaissance Literature" journal (it's
somewhere on my desk in school) a secondary school teacher reports that her
students kept coming up with more and more of those (may we say it) satiric
strokes in the Inferno.  For T&C, just about all the voices are bent, and
the few straight talkers are condemned to being ignored.  So much for the
power of truth in the world.  So we, with Thersites, Falstaff, and Pandarus
can dance madly, sure of our lessons and of their inability to be grasped
by any save those who can dance with us.
 
		      Over the rainbow . . . Yours,
		      		Urk (SURCC@CUNYVM)
 
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Sat, 1 Jun 1991 04:14:00 -0400
From: 		"George Mosley" <MOSLEY@UNC.BITNET>
Subject: 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
Comment: 	Re: SHK 2.0149  *TC*, Genre, Satire
 
For Steve Urkowitz (if I misspell, it is a bad memory only).
 
I would most wholeheartedly agree with the idea that T&C throws a wrench
in genre.  In terms of genre, satire, *it seems,* always questions, adopts,
modifies, and sometimes rejects previous genres.  For example, *The Dunciad*
(which really isn't such a *funny* satire) depends upon a knowledge of a
type of inflated panegyric, and Tale of a Tub depends upon a knowledge of
projections, political theory, etc.  Yet this dependence doesn't rob any of
the pieces of their bite as long as the reader can have access to the same
general genre.  I suspect that when my students say that Gulliver isn't
funny, *and when yours lose interest in T&C,* it may be because the genres
which the works question don't seem to have a contemporary counterpart (at
least to a naive reader).
 
There are, of course, all kinds of theoretical questions to ask about
this, but they're not really to the point.  [By the way, I think Clark's
book is inescapable: it's still top-notch as far as I can see.]  For personal
satires (and there really aren't that many which survive that can be called
really personal satires), the *types* (to use an antique term) have to
exist for the contemporary audience, and those types have to irk the
audience.  In the 19th century, a Whiggish England didn't find Swift all
that funny, and a Romantic age (I suspect) wouldn't find T&C all that good
either.  For me, it is only when genres compete that a play like T&C becomes
a problem.  Well, thus spake the novice.  I'll go back to watching those
more versed in these matters now.
 

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