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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: Blood in *Titus*]
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0245.  Sunday, 26 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   William Russell Mayes <
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        Date:   Saturday, 25 Mar 1995 18:06:33 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0243  Re: Blood in *Titus*
 
(2)     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Saturday, 25 Mar 95 18:11 CST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0243  Re: Blood in *Titus*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Russell Mayes <
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Date:           Saturday, 25 Mar 1995 18:06:33 -0500
Subject: 6.0243  Re: Blood in *Titus*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0243  Re: Blood in *Titus*
 
Cynthia Moravec brings up the possibility of satire--or the more modern
campiness--in Titus Andronicus.  I think there might be satire, but not because
the violence is overdone.  It seems to me that the play shows a horrific
realization of Petrarchan imagery. Shakespeare shows the violence of these
images and refuses to let us forget.
 
As far as performance, I have no idea what Shakespeare intended or what the
stage would have shown (though I suspect it was quite vivid, from evidence I've
seen), but it would be a shame to remove the violence from the play for a
modern audience. Students at the University of Virginia did a bloody version of
the play about two years ago, and since the blood was not wiped up between
scenes, it accumulated as the play progressed.  It was quite memorable, and
several of my students who saw it really liked the play.  _Titus_ is often
called one of Shakespeare's lesser achievements, but I think if all of his
plays were turned into movies (and there was no such thing as "Shakespeare"),
Titus might well be one of his most popular (not to say greatest).  If Jonson's
complaint about audience's taste is indicative, than Titus and Kyd's Spanish
Tragedy were quite popular.
 
W. Russell Mayes Jr
Dept. of English
University of Virginia
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Saturday, 25 Mar 95 18:11 CST
Subject: 6.0243  Re: Blood in *Titus*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0243  Re: Blood in *Titus*
 
Both David Knauer and Sarah Cave are right.  Blood was a very good thing for
the Elizabethan theatre (and we must remember that Q1 +Titus+ is about our only
+pure+ Rose Theatre play, look at the dates in Henslowe, SR, RSTC, etc.) I have
never had any problem with the blood in +Titus+, but what has always bothered
me, aside from Lavinia's apparent lack of knowlege about her engagement to
Bassianus (I have an essay on this in Philip Kolin's new collection on +Titus+
from Garland), is the SD, enter Lavinia, her tongue cut out, her hands cut off,
and +ravished+  I have asked any number of classes what this means--none have
given me an answer. However, the points made by both Knauer and Cave are
correct, in their circumstances.
 
It may also be of interest to know that the "third" Arden has been recently
reviewed in the Saturday "Independent" of 18 March by Frank Kermode who was one
of the "second" Arden editors and had to find a way to make changes in
sterotype plates which replaced "I well remember when I was a boy in
Warwickshire. .  . ." with exactly the same letters. and also Jonathan Bate's
description of the Arden project in the +Indepedent on Sunday+ of 19 March
1995--a nice return from his illiberal abberation to the +Telegraph+
 
In any case, +Titus+ contains just about as much blood as you can imagine, and
perhaps more than of us can!
 
William Proctor Williams
Department of English
Northern Illinois University
 

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