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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Re: Burgess-Marlowe; Bloom; "Conceptualized"
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0713, Friday, 22 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Douglas Abel <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Sep 1995 11:31:40 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0693  Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
 
(2)     From:   Marcello Cappuzzo <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Sep 1995 20:32:31 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Bloom and *The Western Canon*
 
(3)     From:   Tom Gilboy <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Sep 1995 14:39:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0706 Re: *AYL*; *WT*; Tennyson
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas Abel <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Sep 1995 11:31:40 -0700 (MST)
Subject: 6.0693  Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0693  Re: Marlowe/Comics Part 1
 
I can't agree at all that the Burgess novel is the best of those about
Christopher Marlowe.  I've written and performed a one-person show about
Marlowe, *To Ride in Triumph*, and read most of the Marlowe literature,
including all the novels I could get my hands on.  I found Burgess' work the
worst of them all.  It's trivial and trivializing, making only two points with
annoying repetitiveness:
 
   1/ Marlowe was homosexual
 
   2/ Marlowe had different spellings of his name.
 
What a sad commentary upon one of the most fascinating figures of the
Elizabethan period--or any other.  When I get a chance I'll post the titles of
some other Marlowe novels not mentioned in your list.
 
p.s.  I do like most of Burgess' stuff.  I stumbled across the novel in the
bookstore at the Edmonton airport, was thrilled, and bought it immediately.
And because I like Burgess my disappointment was doubled.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcello Cappuzzo <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Sep 1995 20:32:31 +0100
Subject:        Re: Bloom and *The Western Canon*
 
"The French have the great paintings, the Italians great sculpture and music,
the Germans music, but the English have their language and the literature it
has given them is their great art.  And this literature is what it is because
of Shakespeare.  Can anyone really believe that if we had skipped Shakespeare
and had only Jonson, Sidney, Bacon, Raliegh to build on, that the English
language would be the second most spoken language in the world today, and the
most important in every other way?" Stephanie Hughes' posting of 8 Sept. is so
rigorous in its structure that to do it justice one should quote it in its
entirety.  However, I think this passage is significant enough to remind the
reader that in her message Ms Hughes implicitly establishes a sort of hierarchy
among the various arts/nations and, after placing literature/England/WS at the
top of the list, proceeds towards the grand finale of a hierarchical
classification of all languages and literatures and cultures.  Thus, thanks to
WS--"only [...] Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucious, Lao Tze, have had more
effect on human consiousness, and perhaps not even they"--the English language
is not only the "second most spoken language in the world today" (the first one
is not even worth mentioning),  it is "the most important in every other way".
 
I hope I'll be forgiven if I try to object to some of Ms Hughes' articles of
faith *indirectly,* by quoting a passage from a paper I read years ago at the
University of Graz, Austria (1989, International Conference on "English
Literature and the University Curriculum"):
 
"If, on the one hand, English is the lingua franca of the contemporary world
(so much so that today no nation can claim the copyright on it), on the other
hand the very historical process that has caused the diffusion of the English
language throughout the world has also caused the growth of quite a few 'new'
literatures in that language, sometimes in countries that are very
far--geographically, historically, culturally--from England and from the
British Isles.  As professors of 'English' in literature-oriented faculties and
colleges, we, I think, should aim at helping our students to discover, so to
speak, the whole range of literatures in English, to open that jewel-case whose
most precious pieces are still, and perhaps will always be, those created by
Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Hawthorne, Melville, and the other giants of
the literary history of England and of the U.S.A., but whose content has also
been recently increased by artists--Wole Soyinka, Amos Tutuola, Ngugi wa
Thiong'o, Chinua Achebe, Duro Ladipo, Okot p'Bitek, V.S. Naipaul--whose names
may still sound strange to our ears, but whose works, no doubt, pertain to the
same 'great tradition' as that of the masters I have just mentioned.  A 'great
tradition,' needless to say, that is to be looked at not with Leavis'
nationalistic eyes, but with the same, broad-minded attitude on which it has
developed through the centuries.  I do not mean that the specific cultural
contexts of the single literatures in English are irrelevant [...].  What I
mean is that if we agree [...] that the subject of the linguistic side of our
teaching [of Eng. as L2] should no longer be the mythical King's (or Queen's)
English of our schooldays, but the real English of international communication
today (and this of course does not imply any refusal to acknowledge the
importance of a diachronic study of the language), then we must also agree that
*all* the various literatures in English should be *regularly* present in the
university curriculum.  Because it is precisely its being the language of so
many different cultures, it is precisely the extraordinary flexibility and
richness it has acquired by expanding and taking roots in all five or six
continents, it is all this, first of all, that has made English the language of
international communication today (and, we hope, of international understanding
and cooperation)."
 
Thank you.
Marcello Cappuzzo
University of Palermo
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Gilboy <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Sep 1995 14:39:30 -0400
Subject: 6.0706 Re: *AYL*; *WT*; Tennyson
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0706 Re: *AYL*; *WT*; Tennyson
 
With regard to Sarah Cave's note about "conceptualized" productions, Sarah
Richardson wrote:
>
>The underlying supposition, I assume, is that the text is already
>endowed with some fixed meaning and that if we just let the words alone,
>that meaning will be transmitted to the audience.
>
I didn't take that to be Sarah Cave's supposition. The text is endowed with
meaning, though it is anything but fixed, as I keep learning.
 
I do respect the belief that something big is taking place between the words
and the audience. I sympathize with the feeling that the impulse toward
innovation in production, particularly in the form of spectacle or political
allegory or self-conscious parody, often blows an opportunity for something
bigger to happen. The presentation of a digitized Richard III speaking out to
us from a simulated Web site on monitors strewn across the stage -- or
Richard II in bunny slippers -- can preempt something in our imagination,
keep it from doing the work it has to do, likes to do.
 
And yet as I'm saying all this I'm remembering a Caliban in an outdoor
production at St. John's College in Santa Fe: he slinked up through a hatch
in the stage, in a varigated body suit and painted face. Still gives me the
willies . . . .
 
Tom Gilboy
 

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