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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: December ::
Re: Paraphrase (Was Pronouns)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 958. Saturday, 18 December 1993.
 
From:           James Scaefer <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Dec 1993 11:37:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0952  Re: Pronoun Use; Paraphrase; and CD-ROM Discs
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0952  Re: Pronoun Use; Paraphrase; and CD-ROM Discs
 
Reply to Nate Johnson:
 
Speaking, of course, only for myself:  I am against paraphrase because
the language of the play IS the play.  The play of words both contains
and reveals the interplay of the characters.  It is all the playwright
has to guide us toward our reconstruction of the human (inter-)action
he or she is attempting to imitate.  At the same time, it is the
playwright's only _constraint_ on us, the only means available to keep
us from running wild with our own ideas and running roughshod (think
about what that metaphor means, literally!) through the world the
author is trying to create.  This same principle applies even to
translated works:  we rely on the translator to find ways of
embedding in a text written in our language the social nuances
embedded in the foreign-language text.
 
All our interpretations will, of course, be different, influenced by
our own experience, training, etc.  But this is why I like the Peter
Brook approach I commended in an earlier note:  If you're going to
begin with a sketch of the scene, make it a sketch in the author's
own words.
 
Paraphrase is as useless as arguing motivations.  The language is
unfamiliar, but total immersion should be a source of excitement.
As Olivier said:
 
        I'd rather have run the scene eight times than have wasted
        that time in chattering away about abstractions.  An actor
        gets the right thing by doing it over and over.  (from
        *Directors on Directing*)
 
And that means saying the words over and over until the action they
contain becomes apparent.  The applies to silent readers as well.
 
Jim Schaefer

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