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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
What is this list for?: Italy and Importance
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0825.  Monday, 23 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Joe Nathan <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Oct 1995 19:23:24 -0700
        Subj:   what is this list for?
 
(2)     From:   Kenneth S. Rothwell <
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        Date:   Saturday, 21 Oct 1995 11:11:55 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0818 Re: What is this list for?
 
(3)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Sunday, 22 Oct 1995 10:29:54 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: What is this list for?
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Nathan <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Oct 1995 19:23:24 -0700
Subject:        what is this list for?
 
Poor Mr. Sawday.  I have a picture of the universe he inhabits made up of
minutae and relatively unimportant dry, dusty, facts which have little to do
with the universal appeal of Shakespeare and the beauty of his poetry.  Has
academia become so esoteric and inbred?  I do pity his students.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth S. Rothwell <
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Date:           Saturday, 21 Oct 1995 11:11:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0818 Re: What is this list for?
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0818 Re: What is this list for?
 
Dear Colleagues, I'm replying on the agenda that's discussing the need for this
list because I can't remember who wrote in the other day to inquire about
Shakespeare in Italy. I thought the list (thanks to Hardy Cook and others) was
here to encourage discussion and answer questions. As to Shakespeare in Italy,
it's an ancient chestnut that was studied ad infinitum by German scholars
decades ago. I remember ploughing through a blizzard of essays that, so far as
I can tell, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Shakespeare may or may not
have visited Italy. A convincing point was made by, I think, Mario Praz, in a
ShS article (I haven't bothered to reconfirm this) that Shakespeare may have
hung out with Italian travelers at the Elephant Tavern on Bankside. It gave me
a thrill the first time in London I passed through the Elephant and Castle
underground station. To think that I was within yards of the very place where
these eloquent Italians had demonstrated their sprezzatura. If this theory has
any validity, it's also worthwhile to think about the French Connection (cf.
Henry V). London was full of Protestant refugees from the Catholic terror in
France. SoHo square still has a Hugeneot church, as I recollect from this
distance. In short London may have been sufficiently cosmopolitan to meet
Shakespeare's need for foreign flavors. He didn't need the grand tour. I hasten
to add that nothing I've said should be construed as a fact. Overwhelmed by the
recent discussions of "factuality," I'm no longer prepared to say what I think
a fact is. Ken Rothwell
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Sunday, 22 Oct 1995 10:29:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: What is this list for?
 
Janet Winship;
 
Although your post was listed under "What is This List For", to my mind it
belongs under the Importance of Shakespeare, for to me you have explained
better than I was able to what I deeply believe to be the true importance of
Shakespeare, and the thing that sets his work a quantum leap apart from all
other writers and even from most of the great movers and shakers of the world,
which is the fact that his works are continually brought to life season after
season, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, not only
by important repertory companies or even not so important local repertory
companies, but by theater groups in small towns and classes of children all
across America, and I would imagine, in England as well, and to some extent, in
translation, in many other nations of the world. Is there any other writer for
whom we can claim the same? The experience you describe as an "aha" is liable
to occur at any time to any member of any one of these groups, and to any
member of their audience as well. I know that a recent performance of Merry
Wives at a local college performed mostly by women, with Ann Page played by a
small handicapped girl in a wheelchair (what a wonderful solution to the
problem of how to use this member of the theater class), had absolutely the
best Mistress Page I've ever seen, while the young woman who played Dr. Caius
gave me insights into Shakespeare's version of a French accent (she was fluent
in French). There is an intense version of the "aha" that can occur as well,
usually to a weary director or costumer at the final curtain of the first
production, when, as a gift from the gods, comes a true epiphany, no different
from that experienced occasionally in church or at the opera, when for a
fraction of an instant life is seen in its true spiritual colors. It is for
this that Shakespeare is produced over and over, and this is why I believe he
is important.
 
Stephanie Hughes
 

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