Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: MM Line; Neutrality; Stoic Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0651.  Tuesday, 10 June 1997.

[1]     From:   John Boni <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 9 Jun 1997 08:18:01 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0646 Re: MM Line

[2]     From:   Ben Schneider <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 9 Jun 1997 17:06:32 +0000
        Subj:   Neutrality; Stoic Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Boni <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 9 Jun 1997 08:18:01 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 8.0646 Re: MM Line
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0646 Re: MM Line

Well, my face is red.  Perhaps I can blame two weeks' vacation.  When I
read my brief post on *MM*, obviously hastily dashed off, I saw, "Also
the sense of the hazards of ice *are* referenced."

Sorry.
John M. Boni

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Schneider <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 9 Jun 1997 17:06:32 +0000
Subject:        Neutrality; Stoic Shakespeare

Dear John McWilliams,

In answer to my assigning neutrality to the new critic, but not the
author, you objected that "Critics claiming neutrality did seem to
produce neutral authors," and gave some good examples.

Not always.  It depended on the prominence of the author's politics in
the work.  Critics of Paradise Lost, Gulliver's Travels, Prelude, Leaves
of Grass, For Whom the Bell Tolls, could not easily avoid the author's
politics.  Of course:  the writer can be as engaged as he wants to be,
but the new critic must (try to) be neutral.  Since the new
historicist's apparent mission is to find politics in works never
suspected of having any-that's what we pay them for-they will do so; and
they have dug up great fossil pits of politics buried under the surface
of high art, Shakespeare being a prime case in point.

                            * * * * *

As you correctly surmise, Stoicism would constitute a whole new "playing
field" for Shakespeare appreciation.  How can we displace the foundation
of a writer who is so deeply imbedded in our culture?  As you say,
"Shakespeare makes us what we are," and it seems "dubious" to introduce
a "distant" Stoic Shakespeare, instead of the familiar face we have come
to know so well.

My first answer would be, "What if it's true?"  Copernicus once required
us to stop thinking of Earth as the center of the universe, and we
managed to do so, although it was demeaning.

Stoicism, however, is not totally foreign; it still lives in
hunter-gatherer bands, in African villages, on south-sea islands, in Zen
communities, in old-fashioned families, in English public schools, in
successful business corporations, in football teams, and in many
customs, such as holding the door open for the next guy.  Yes,
Shakespeare is what we are; but so is Stoicism.  It's our roots, too:
Adam Smith economics drive it underground, but just drop a natural
disaster on us, and we instantly revert to Stoicism, all for one and one
for all.

Finally, by adding the Stoic dimension to Shakespeare, we
increase, rather than diminish, his power.  A new light shines on the
action, motives clarify, flocks of nuances fly up where none were
suspected.  If nuances per square inch are the measure of a great author
(and I think they are), Shakespeare becomes greater.

Maybe I haven't spoken to your question.  Perhaps you are saying
that one can't roll back progress, like those who object to the New
Globe as a form of Disneyland.  Maybe so.

Yours ever,
BEN SCHNEIDER
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.