Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 71. Thursday, 26 Mar 1992.
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1992 17:45:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 3.0067 "Misconceptions" Continued
Comment: RE: SHK 3.0067 "Misconceptions" Continued
Coleridge proclaimed that Shakespeare's judgment was commensurate with
his genius. Perhaps he would not have made his point so emphatically,
had he not reason to believe that the dramatist's judgment had been disparaged
both by other dramatists, and by holders of various anti-theatrical prejudices.
I might suggest that it was in the area of dramaturgy that Shakespeare's
judgment was most disparaged by what Coleridge described as a "pedantry
that arraigned the eagle because it had not the dimensions of a swan."
Certainly, Coleridge's predecessors, I would name Dryden and Morgann with
reverence, gave us responses to Shakespeare's plays from which we still
can learn. The disputed point in my review of the Halletts' admirable
book on Shakespeare's dramaturgy is simply that the playwright had been
so taken to task as a playwright--and for so many years--that there is
a good deal of value in a study of the dramaturgy. We have our own anti-
theatrical prejudices, just as our forbears did. The Halletts' book, and
books like it, can serve as a useful corrective against the notion that
Shakespeare's dramaturgy deserves arraignment. Like it or not, that notion
took root, as did many important and valuable ideas about Shakespeare,
during the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. If I have given
the impression that we are better informed than our predecessors, I apologize.
University of New Hampshire