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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
Re: Conversation; Universal; Importance; Salvini;
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0757.  Friday, 6 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 12:53:34 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 20:16:14 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0755  Universal Human Experience
 
(3)     From:   Robert Appelbaum <
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        Date:   Friday, 6 Oct 1995 00:33:46 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Importance of Shakespeare
 
(4)     From:   John Mucci <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 22:32:47 -0400
        Subj:   Fwd: Salvini;Sleepwalking
 
(5)     From:   Peter C. Herman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 21:52:20 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0754 Re: WordCruncher; CD ROMs
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 12:53:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
To Amy Hughes:
 
All drama is an imitation of a conversation, and one of the things that
differentiates a mediocre a good-or-better playwright from a mediocre one is
the ability to make us believe that we are overhearing a "natural"
conversation.  If two characters are together at the very beginning of a scene
-- as opposed to meeting each other onstage, having come from separate
locations -- our belief is increased if we get the feeling that they have
already been talking before we discover them _in medias res_.  Thus, in
*Hamlet*, Polonius and Reynoldo, II.i:
 
        Pol.    Give him this money and these notes, Reynoldo.
        Rey.    I will, my Lord.
 
Reynoldo doesn't ask, "Who, my Lord?" -- although we do -- because they are
already in the middle of this conversation.  *AYLI* opens similarly in
mid-stride:  "As I remember it, Adam...."  Orlando and Adam need no
preliminaries; the old retainer has been listening patiently to the dispossed
son's complaints for some time.  This technique fosters the feeling that the
stage's world is one that is continuously alive. Plays in which each scene
starts like a first-year foreign language primer's conversation -- Hi!.  Hello.
 My name is .... -- really drag.
 
Unlike passing conversations heard in real-life restaurants and subway cars,
the playwright usually doesn't leave us in the dark about the presumbed earlier
information:  we learn who/what/when/where, and especially why,  From the later
dialogue, gradually filling in the past as we go, just as we come to know
people with whom we talk in real life.
 
Jim Schaefer
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 05 Oct 1995 20:16:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0755  Universal Human Experience
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0755  Universal Human Experience
 
I think Erika Lin is essentially correct in her believe that the human animal,
like any other animal, may be described in general.  "Culture" -- whatever that
is -- has not transformed us into non-animals.
 
But each "culture" wants "recognition."  (I share K, Anthony Appiah's
skepticism about the entities that now demand to be called  "cultures.") And
the concept of general human/animal traits seems, to some people, to stand in
the way of recognition.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Appelbaum <
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Date:           Friday, 6 Oct 1995 00:33:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Importance of Shakespeare
 
I don't want it to seem like Marcello Cappuzzo and I are ganging up on a fellow
SHAKSPERian.  As Marcello might say, it's the idea that we are arguing against.
 In any case Marcello has already made a remarkably strong case, I believe,
against the implications of the idea that English somehow DESERVES to be
dominant language in the world, and that Shakespeare is largely responsible for
the language's morally privileged position.  I only want to make two smaller
points:
 
1.  It *does* matter that several generations were skipped before Shakespeare
became absorbed into English culture.  History matters.  In the present case it
matters partly because it was just while Shakespearean texts were more or less
in hiding, part of an academic and theatrical subculture which formed only a
small part of English life as a whole, that modern English became standardized
and codified in its present form.  The language we speak and write, today, now,
developed without much input from the Bard.  To see my point, think about what
it would take to rewrite this paragraph in the language of Defoe or Dr.
Johnson;  then think about what it would take to rewrite it in the language of
an Elizabethan.  I am using words here that would be foreign perhaps to Johnson
and Shakespeare alike -- "subculture," "input,"  "codified."  And my periods
are comparatively brief.  But I think it is clear that my syntax and diction
are considerably closer to Johnson's then to Shakespeare's, and most of you
would think there was something wrong with me if they weren't. Something
happened between 1620 and 1710 to make English English in its present form; but
what happened wasn't the dissemination of the Shakespearean canon.
 
2.  It follows from this, or is implied in this, that we do NOT now speak or
write the language of Shakespeare.  Nor, in general, do the people of Ireland,
South Africa, or Jamaica.  So what, finally, is the point of claiming that
Shakespeare somehow invented our language?  This is the issue, it seems to me,
that Marcello Cappuzzo is addressing.  And it is the issue that the Bardolaters
among us are refusing to address -- apparently because it is more "refreshing,"
as someone remarked, to mystify history than to come to terms with it.
 
Robert Appelbaum
UC Berkeley
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Mucci <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 22:32:47 -0400
Subject:        Fwd: Salvini;Sleepwalking
 
To me,Salvini is way off the mark when he suspects that the LM sleepwalking
scene was originally assigned to M himself and then later reassigned to LM.
 
My feelings are that LM pushes her husband because she loves him and
understands and shares his ambitions.  She is his strength when he is weak. But
she shows the first signs of weakness when after seeing the murdered men she
declares her heart "so white".  So begins her journey that ends when she takes
her life.  Consciencely, she maintains a hard exterior but underneath she is
cracking.  With each crack underneath she presents an even harder outside.  She
is no longer able to admit to herself or anyone else how deeply her misgiving
plague her.
 
So how does the playwright show us this?  One way is to put into a state where
she cannot control the way she presents herself.  Many playwrights use
drunkedness for this purpose.  In this case it is in sleepwalking that the
truth is revealed to the audience.
 
In the way of metaphor, the next the audience hears of LM she is dead.  taken
her own life, unable to continue living with the life that was only a dream at
the beginning of the play.
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter C. Herman <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 Oct 1995 21:52:20 -0400
Subject: 6.0754 Re: WordCruncher; CD ROMs
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0754 Re: WordCruncher; CD ROMs
 
Thanks very much to everyone who responded.  The comments were all very useful,
and I really appreciate your taking the time to answer my query.
 
Yours,
Peter C. Herman
 

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