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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: June ::
Re: Iconography/Coriolanus
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0586  Wednesday, 24 June 1998.

[1]     From:   Ron Ward <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 16:26:24 +1200 (NZST)
        Subj:   Re: Iconography

[2]     From:   Chris J. Fassler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 10:15:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Iconography/Coriolanus


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Ward <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 16:26:24 +1200 (NZST)
Subject:        Re: Iconography

My comment and original question included a rather sarcastic sounding
comment which nevertheless produced an interesting note from Syd Kasten.

My comment with respect to Coriolanus was; "with its implicit lampooning
of the democratic process of elections may be hard for those keen on the
"American way" to swallow."

Although I may well be taken to task for such a geralisation I had in
mind the election of Eisenhower an ex army General, as were several
earlier Presidents. Certainly the administrative side of American
politics were unknown to Shakespeare but the inherent need in most
modern democratic systems to use publicity machines to sell a candidate
is something which creates its own problems and which S seemed to
understand. He may of course be seen as toadying to the monarchy of the
day, but I doubt if anyone would accept that proposition, yet within the
reign of the monarch following that in which S died the commons of
England took over government. Any connection is decidedly unproveable.

The Greek system of selecting administrators by ballot would seem to
have another set of problems attached to it.

A one or two party system does seem to be much less democratic than one
which has no restriction on parties.

Anyway, Whether my suggestion is accepted or not, it may be more
important to view the less popular plays as unfashionable rather than
inferior. They may be simply saying things we would rather not hear.

Ron Ward

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris J. Fassler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 10:15:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Iconography/Coriolanus

Colleagues,

First, whether you see the political message(s) of _Coriolanus_ as
primarily "lampooning" republican democratic structures (Ron Ward) or as
portraying "the class struggle" in a way that makes the populus appear
"weak and unworthy" (Syd Kasten), either view of the play's politics
make it unlikely to be a crowd-pleaser today.  (And in the US-where, of
course, we don't HAVE socio-political classes-the latter is not only
unpopular, but incomprehensible.)

More important, I'm intrigued by Kasten's description of last year's
Jerusalem Festival production and its quasi-fascist portrayals.  If the
tribunes and the citizenry were blackshirts and Aufidius was a mob boss,
then how were Martius and the Roman patricians depicted?  I saw a
generally very good production in Denver several years ago that really
ran with the fascistic themes, making Martius/Coriolanus out to be an
unsuccessful dictator, complete with swasticas and Nuremburg rallies and
the like.  Is there a published review of the Berkoff production?

Thanks.

Cordially,
Chris Fassler
 

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