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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: July ::
Re: Editions; Characters; R & G; Klingon Translations
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0600.  Friday, 8 July 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Tom Davey <
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        Date:   Thursday, 07 Jul 94 23:02 PDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0595 Conventional Edition Format
 
(2)     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Jul 94 13:11:00 BST
        Subj:   SHK 5.0598 Re: Characters
 
(3)     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Jul 94 10:02:21 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0599  Q: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
 
(4)     From:   Ellen Edgerton <EBEDGERT@SUADMIN.BITNET>
        Date:   Friday, 08 Jul 1994 10:35 ET
        Subj:   *The Tragedy of Iago*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Davey <
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Date:           Thursday, 07 Jul 94 23:02 PDT
Subject: 5.0595 Conventional Edition Format
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0595 Conventional Edition Format
 
E.P. Werstine writes, regarding the necessity of consigning an unfavored quarto
or Folio reading "to the textual notes in the back," that this is
 
      a regrettable but unavoidable situation in anything
   resembling the conventional edition format that is marketable
   today.
 
What kind of page format might we prefer? Is this an argument for superior
typographic design, or for an electronic text where an abundant apparatus can
be invoked with a click?
 
   Tom Davey/UCLA
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Jul 94 13:11:00 BST
Subject: Re: Characters
Comment:        SHK 5.0598 Re: Characters
 
Dear Pat Buckridge,
 
Now I am beginning to understand where you're coming from- the late 70s and
early 80s! I would never have thought of linking Belsey, MacCabe, and Heath
together in the way that you do, and MacCabe's occasional use of Brecht
notwithstanding, your description of a "neo-Brechtian orthodoxy" is hopelessly
inadequate.  Nor was it the "salient feature" of their intervention in the 70s.
In fact the Heath and Belsey to which you are referring owed more to Lacan, and
the Screen ethos was built around the explosion of French theory in the late
60s. You only have to contrast their work at this time with that of, say, the
late Margot Heinemann (who WAS more Brechtian (see her essay in Political
Shakespeare on "How Brecht Read Shakespeare") to see how wrong you've got it.
Also your ascription of "progressive" to Hawkes and myself is misleading; are
you concerned here to place us in a Hegelian context, and if so, on what
grounds?  Moreover, I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say that I
imply that "semiosis is curbed not politically but epistemologically, by the
superior truth of constructivist (e.g. emblematic) readings of character over
mimetic (or realist) ones. A cursory reading of Foucault will, I am sure,
reveal that politics and epistemology are necessarily intertwined, and that
knowledges are constrcuted within the parameters of the political.
 
What you seem to want to do is to lump together historical difference- which is
well documented- with some sort of transhistorical human nature, to the extent
that you can assert that there are "characters" in Renaissance plays because
that's the way we experience them.  The question is how to get out of this
piece of tail-chasing, and the answers are very complicated.  We can't make a
Shakespearean text mean anything we want it to mean.  I think it was Terry
Eagleton who said (in 1982 I think) that King Lear isn't about Manchester
United (I think he originally said Leeds United).  There is, of course, nothing
stopping us from reading these texts mimetically, except that when we do so we
need to be aware of what it is that we edit out in order to make such a reading
possible.
 
As an avid reader of Raymond Williams you should know that it is misleading to
separate texts from their histories- hence his attempt to prize Tragedy free
from the straitjacket that someone like George Steiner constructs for it in The
Death of Tragedy. You can't have it both ways: you can't on the one hand claim
a senstitivity to historical difference and then dismiss that as some sort of
"British neo-Brechtian orthodoxy" when you want to insist on the permanence of
"character".
 
On the subject of Problems in Materialism and Culture, try reading Williams's
critique of the Marxist base-superstructure model.  Then switch to the Politics
and Letters volume for a critique of Williams. (Well, you did ask!)
 
Finally, catharsis is a way of managing the emotions!  It's very political
indeed!!
 
Cheers,
John Drakakis
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Jul 94 10:02:21 EDT
Subject: 5.0599  Q: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0599  Q: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
 
I can't help with Rosencrantz and Guldenstern as "characters."  Like a number
of other, more vocal participants, I don't care for that term in discussing
drama.  I can, however, comment on them as "roles."  They are among the roles
most frequently cut from _Hamlet_ and your friend might enjoy/profit from/find
material on the reasons that they appear in or disappear from various
productions.  There are interesting shifts of these roles in the Garrick,
Olivier, and Gielgud productions (Gielgud both as actor and director), and all
of these are well-documented.  Bernice Kliman's wonderful study of performances
on film, etc., has much to say about the way the roles are presented.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ellen Edgerton <EBEDGERT@SUADMIN.BITNET>
Date:           Friday, 08 Jul 1994 10:35 ET
Subject:        *The Tragedy of Iago*
 
A few days ago I posted about the "Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project" I
discovered on Gopher.  I've since been in contact with someone who is
interested in translating more of the plays from a Klingon POV.  It seems that
*Othello* in particular might have a rather skewed reading by the typical
Klingon critic or audience:  it would only make dramatic sense to Klingons if
it were called *The Tragedy of Iago*, about a noble warrior named Iago who must
struggle to kill his captain, Othello, who has clearly shown himself too
dishonorable for command.
 
Klingons (for those unfamiliar with Star Trek) are a warrior race who value
honor, duty, single-mindedness, battle prowess, ambition, boasting, and rather
disgusting food.  The best thing that can happen to a Klingon is to die in
battle against an enemy; the worst thing that can happen is to be taken alive
by the enemy and not executed.  In discussing the "Klingon Shakespeare
Restoration Project" we tried to fathom which of Shakespeare's plays would be
most popular or interesting to this fictional Klingon audience -- sort of a
hypothetical "Shakespeare in the Bush" exercise.  *Othello* struck me as the
one play which would mean something totally opposite to a Klingon audience than
to a human (Western, Eurocentric) audience.  Iago, to Klingon audiences and
critics, would even have a tragic flaw -- his willingness to destroy Othello
through clever schemes rather than outright force (Klingons value intelligence,
but not when force is a viable alternative).  He suffers what is to Klingons a
terrible end -- he is captured at the end by his enemies and presumably not
executed (at least not on stage).   To Klingons, Iago might be as compelling
and controversial a figure as Hamlet.
 
One could translate *Othello* (rather, *The Tragedy of Iago*) in a bowdlerized
Klingon version (a few scenes cut, others a bit transposed etc.) to "restore"
the play to a version that would be popular and interesting to a Klingon
audience.  Other possibilities include the uproarious comedy *King Lear*, the
stirring conquest story *Henry V* (not much bowdlerization in store for THAT
one), and the Henriad featuring that vilest of all Shakespearean villains, Jack
Falstaff...
 
Not sure how close this comes to Disney and Shakespeare,
 
Ellen Edgerton
Syracuse University
 

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