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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Re: Productions; Biographies; Importance
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 740. Saturday, 30 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Kathleen Kendrick <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 15:38:46 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0684 Conferences; CFP; Announcements
 
(2)     From:   J.H.Sawday <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 12:09:29 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0730  Shakespeare Biographies
 
(3)     From:   Marcello Cappuzzo <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 18:28:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Importance of Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathleen Kendrick <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 15:38:46 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0684 Conferences; CFP; Announcements
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0684 Conferences; CFP; Announcements
 
To Fiona C. Quick @ U. of Minnesota.  Shakespeare Rep. Co. will be producing
Othello, Twelfth Night and Richard III this season. Othello runs from 10/13
thru 12/10 and seems the only play that will accommodate your time schedule.
Call (312) 642-2273 for more info. TN runs from 01/17 thru 03/03/96 and RIII
from 04/10 thru 05/26.  They perform at the Ruth Page Theater on the near north
side of Chicago and they are absolutely marvelous!!
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J.H.Sawday <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 12:09:29 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 6.0730  Shakespeare Biographies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0730  Shakespeare Biographies
 
Simon Malloch asks (27 September) for comments on two recent Shakespeare
`Biographies': Phillips and Keatman, _The Shakespeare Conspiracy_ (1994) and
Wilson, _Shakespeare: The Evidence_ (1993). I don't know the second work, but
earlier this year I was asked to take part in a BBC local radio discussion
programme with one of the authors of _The Shakespeare Conspiracy_. A lively
discussion ensued. _The Shakespeare Conspiracy_ is (at best) a fantasy work
pretending to offer a series of astounding revelations (eg. Shakespeare was a
double-agent, or even a double; he was disfigured by a theatre fire, etc. etc).
All this is pretty harmless fun - the sort of stuff one can feed to an
undergraduate lecture on the theme of `potty theories concerning WS'. Where,
however, _The Shakespeare Conspiracy_ was deeply dishonest was in its jackets-
off, sleeves-up, style of delivery. Essentially, the book raided the standard
`academic' work on Shakespeare (Schoenbaum etc), in order to present `facts'
which have long been in the public domain (even the 2nd best bed was trotted
out) as astonishing revelations which these two tireless authors had excavated
through their own honest labour. The `conspiracy' was in the authors' claim to
have rumbled the cover-up which generations of self-serving academic
researchers had perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. But, of course, it was
only thanks to the largely unacknowledged work of those academics who were
castigated in the book that Phillips and Keatman were able to retrieve the
materials which they employed in their construction of this fantasy. No doubt
the two of them have made a tidy profit out of their endeavour (good luck to
them!), but one wonders about the ethical standards of the publishers involved.
 
Jonathan Sawday
Department of English,
University of Southampton
Southampton, Hants. UK
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcello Cappuzzo <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 18:28:29 +0100
Subject:        Re: Importance of Shakespeare
 
        "And as to Cappuzzo's knee-jerk response--when, if I may borrow my
        collegue's idiom, will professors learn to read tone?  Hughes'
        comment, far from deriding the Spanish language, was suggesting
        that, without the lone contribution of Shakespeare to English belles
        lettres, the richly- ornamented works of the Spanish Golden Age
        would have lured us all into embracing that literature rather than
        that of the English Renaissance, and consequently the SHAKSPER group
        would possibly be the DEVEGA group."  (Brian Corrigan, Sept 28)
 
I am afraid I cannot agree with Corrigan's interpretation of Stephanie Hughes's
recent posts on the "Importance of Shakespeare".  In her second message (Sept
26), Ms Hughes made it clear that
 
        "The point I was trying to make [on Sept 8] had little to do with
        Shakespeare's works, or the standard English lit. canon, but with
        the language itself. [...] These [WS's] plays and poems have had a
        certain life and influence in terms of plot, style, entertainment
        value, etc., but the language he created to express them has had a
        life far beyond the works themselves."
 
It seems to me that Ms Hughes has never, in her recent postings, focused her
attention on WS the *artist*;  she has never said, I think, that WS contributed
to literature qua literature more than Sidney or Marlowe or Jonson...or Lope de
Vega:  what Ms Hughes has certainly said is that WS "created" a language, that
"the creation of a language is on an altogether different level from anything
else," and that the language WS created is modern English, i.e. "the second
most spoken language in the world today, and the most important in every other
way".  "Had he [WS] never been born, [...] we might be making these posts in
Spanish."  To me, this last sentence means--approximately--that since WS did
come into the world, and since he did create the English Language, it would be
a nonsense (perhaps even a *sin*) to discuss WS (if not *any* subject) in
Spanish or in any other (*minor*) language.  My most recent post to this List
may have been a "knee-jerk" reaction, but not, I think, as erroneous or erratic
a response as it appears to professor Corrigan.  What I objected, and still
object to is the idea--somehow present, I suspect, in Ms Hughes' interventions,
in both of them--that the English language is of a superior, a-historical,
metaphysical, divine nature, and that therefore this language *and*
(necessarily) the culture of which this language is the "medium" have a
superior role, a *mission* to perform in the world at large.  For this idea and
for its various implications I have no respect, nor do I think I have to show
any.  However, since my mother tongue is not English, and I cannot be sure that
my way of reading Ms Hughes' "tone" is correct, I offer her my apologies.
 
I apologize also to professor Corrigan.  I must confess that, when I first read
his post, I thought that the passage I have already quoted meant
--approximately--this:  "thanks to WS, whose contribution made English belles
lettres of the Renaissance into the most important literature of the period,
which in turn is the most important of all literary periods, we do not run the
risk of being lured into embracing the literature of the Spanish Golden Age or
any other minor (?) or foreign (?) literary production...:  we have SHAKSPER,
why on earth should we engage in a discussion on DEVEGA?"  This was my
interpretation at first sight.  Now I'm not so sure that this reading is
legitimate.  Again, there may be, there *must* be something in the tone of
Corrigan's text that I am not able to grasp--and perhaps not only in its tone,
even in its literal meaning: for example, when professor Corrigan says "we,"
"we all," etc., whom exactly is he referring to?  I feel I'd have something
else to confess and...other misreadings, other suspincions to apologize for.
But let's relax--today is Friday!  Have a joyful weekend.
 
Marcello Cappuzzo
University of Palermo
 

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