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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: August ::
Re: Correction (S.112); Milk; Generic Expectations
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0652.  Wednesday, 3 August 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Piers Lewis <
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 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 02 Aug 1994 08:46:19 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   s.112
 
(2)     From:   E. L. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 02 Aug 1994 10:27:33 EDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0649  Re: Milk
 
(3)     From:   Noel Chevalier <CHEVALIE@UREGINA1.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 02 Aug 94 09:51:06 CST
        Subj:   Generic expectations
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Piers Lewis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 02 Aug 1994 08:46:19 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        s.112
 
[Below is a correction to Piers Lewis's posting of yesterday (SHK 5.0649).  The
following the is the correct version of the last sentence of the second-to-last
paragraph. --HMC]
 
This laconic instruction faces both ways:  back, over the way the speaker has
managed to distribute his neglect of others' voices so as NOT to have to hear
his critics and flatterers, and forwards to the last, ironic twist of the
poem's central conceit in the final couplet:  far from being consumed by love,
the speaker has so thoroughly consumed his beloved who has become virtually a
part of him, that he or she has simply disappeared and is now considered dead.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           E. L. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 02 Aug 1994 10:27:33 EDT
Subject: 5.0649  Re: Milk
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0649  Re: Milk
 
In re Mueller: he would do better looking up anthropological texts on the
Hottentots than spinning conjectures out of the void. My contact with the
subject derives from a lecture in the Anthropology-Linguistics department at
the University of Buffalo forty years ago. The speaker made the point that
when, during the New Deal, reactionaries mocked at humanitarian aid to the
Third World as providing "milk for the Hottentots," the reactionaries were
(then as now) completely ignorant in their criticisms, because the Hottentots
would reject milk with horror. To the Hottentots especially, of all peoples,
the milk of animals came in the same category as feces or urine, because they
considered that the udders of the beasts were very close to their cloacal
regions.
 
In this historical case, the mental regions of the reactionaries were (as they
are now) also close to their cloacal regions.                 E.L.Epstein
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Noel Chevalier <CHEVALIE@UREGINA1.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 02 Aug 94 09:51:06 CST
Subject:        Generic expectations
 
In reply to Bill Godshalk's partially leading questions:
 
I won't speculate on [1]--but your son's expectation that Katherine could kill
Bianca is perfectly acceptable--and not just for a first-time *SHREW* watcher.
I have always thought that WS plays with our sense of generic expectation, so
that "comedy" and "tragedy" are, at many points, indistinguishable.  Yes, I
think we do carry a bag of generic expectations with us to plays, but the
author reserves the right to frustrate those expectations in the course of
unfolding the play.  If *TS* were re-written as tragedy, Katherine's revenge
could conceivably become main business of Act V.  One problem with viewing any
play is that we rarely get the opportunity to witness it without any prior
information: posters, reviews, reports from friends, &c. all fill up that bag
of expectations we carry with us to the theatre.  If the play is one we are
intimately familiar with, the bag is even fuller.
 
An equally interesting question to me is, "Could *TS* still remain a comedy
even if Katherine did take her *revenge* in the way your son expected?" And
does the author reserve the right to extend the definitions of genre beyond
what we as an audience expect?  Keep in mind that Chekhov's *The Seagull* is
labelled "A Comedy," even though the last scene of the play ends with
Konstantin's suicide.  Perhaps one reason why we go to so many different
productions of familiar plays is that we secretly expect things to turn out
differently each time (and I'm not talking about missed cues!)
 
Exiting (without flourish)
Noel Chevalier

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