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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: November ::
Re: Shakespeare and the Unities
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0890.  Wednesday, 27 November 1996.

(1)     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Nov 1996 12:05:50 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0888  Q: Shakespeare and the Unities

(2)     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Nov 1996 16:19:14 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0888 Q: Shakespeare and the Unities


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Nov 1996 12:05:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0888  Q: Shakespeare and the Unities
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0888  Q: Shakespeare and the Unities

> Shakespeare paid little heed to the classical unities (time, place, and
> action), especially when the story just couldn't be stuffed into the confines
> of 24 hours and one location.

If by the classical unities you mean Aristotle, then you need to revise the
question.  In the Poetics the only unity Aristotle mentions is unity of action
(something that, arguably, Shakespeare also adheres to). Although Aristotle
mentions place and duration of action it is not until the Renaissance and after
that these became codified in theory, though often ignored in practice.

C. David Frankel
University of South Florida

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Nov 1996 16:19:14 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 7.0888 Q: Shakespeare and the Unities
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0888 Q: Shakespeare and the Unities

Re Keith Ghormley's question about the "classical unities." There's no such
thing: the concept of unities of time, place and action was a neo-Classical
(mostly Italian, partially French) invention.  Aristotle speaks of what can be
called a unity of action, but mentions time only in passing, and place not at
all.  The neo-Classicists, on the other hand, emphasized time and place even
more than action (cf. the furor over Corneille's _Le Cid_).

Certainly Shakespeare was not alone among English playwrights in ignoring
unities: witness _Gorboduc_ or _Cambyses_ or _Doctor Faustus_ or _Bartholomew
Fair_.  Sidney's Defense of Poesie seems, at least, to revel in the difference
between England and Everywhere Else.  Still, I suspect that English playwrights
ignored the unities not for patriotic reasons, but because 1) they could and 2)
they felt like it.

I know of no contemporary Italian productions of Shakspeare-- they were as
parochial in their way as Shakespeare was in his.

Hope this helps.

Rick Jones

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