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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Shakespeare in Love
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0030  Friday, 8 January 1999.

[1]     From:   John Savage <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Jan 1999 10:53:11 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare *Still* in Love

[2]     From:   Matthew C. Hansen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Jan 1999 10:08:13 -0600
        Subj:   Shakespeare in Love

[3]     From:   Richard A Burt <
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        Date:   Thursday, 07 Jan 1999 13:09:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0024  Re: Shakespeare in Love

[4]     From:   Gerda Grice <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Jan 1999 12:08:04 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love

[5]     From:   Jason Mical <
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        Date:   Thursday, 07 Jan 1999 11:19:05 PST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love

[6]     From:   David Hale <
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        Date:   Thursday,07 Jan 99 16:12:41 EST
        Subj:   re: SHAKSPER: SHK 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Savage <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Jan 1999 10:53:11 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare *Still* in Love

>Mike Field:  (I'm assuming, like most people, that the script is
>virtually entirely his [Stoppard's] own).

Yes, that's what I assume too.

What I'm wondering about is this (and I haven't had a chance to see the
film yet): I can see there might be a 12th Night reference in naming the
heroine Viola, but why her last name?  Is there some clever Stoppardian
reason for naming her after the chap who built the Suez Canal, and I
just don't get it?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew C. Hansen <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Jan 1999 10:08:13 -0600
Subject:        Shakespeare in Love

I am temporarily suspending my status as perpetual lurker on SHAKSPER to
voice my support of Hardy's comments on "Shakespeare in Love."

Yes, there are historical inaccuracies.  Yes Norman and Stoppard play
fast and loose with scholarly accounts of Shakespeare's use of sources
and analogues.  But this is not a monograph on the composition of Romeo
and Juliet nor on the Elizabethan theatre milieu circa 1593.  It is a
romance.  It is a Stoppardian-Shakespearean romance and that means that
it is intelligent, witty, draws on historical and actual fact and then
plays around with it.  Joyce and Lenin in the Library in Zurich?  A sea
coast in Bohemia?  Let's not get upset; let's enjoy the gag and revel in
the fact that we KNOW it's fiction.  Webster was educated at the Inns of
Court-how could he be a grimy, blood-thirsty, cockney street urchin?
Fiction.  Romance.  Make believe.

Please go see this film.  Let it make an obnoxious amount of money.  Let
it win more Oscars than Titanic.  Send Hollywood the message that we
like this type of romantic comedy (even if not historically pure and
accurate) and that we could do with more of it and less of Adam Sandler,
and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan not only re-making Jimmy Stewart films but
re-making their own.  Forget for the films "two hours and more" traffic
of the stage/screen everything you had to learn in defense of your
dissertation and just enjoy it.  Please.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A Burt <
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Date:           Thursday, 07 Jan 1999 13:09:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0024  Re: Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0024  Re: Shakespeare in Love

In response to Mike Jensen's comment about the sonnets (if read
autobiographically) being the only evidence of Shakespeare's
homosexuality, let me say that my observations about Shakespeare in Love
were related less to evidence about Shakespeare the man than to other
mass media representations of Shakespeare as a character.  In novels and
in comic books, Shakespeare is regularly represented as bi or gay.  In
Mrs. Shakespeare, Anne Hathaway happily has anal sex with Shakespeare
after discovering his interest in boys.  Erica Jong also has him have
sex with the Earl of Southampton in _Shylock's Daughter_.  Stephanie
Cowell makes him bi in The Players.  Etc, etc. The question the film
raises is less about mass media per se, I think, than it does the mass
medium of film in particular, and why film seems more constrained than
literature when it comes to representing sex and sexuality.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gerda Grice <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Jan 1999 12:08:04 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love

One thing I found interesting in the film was that Gwyneth Paltrow was a
much more convincing Romeo than she was a Juliet.

Gerda Grice
Ryerson Polytechnic University
Toronto, Canada

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jason Mical <
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Date:           Thursday, 07 Jan 1999 11:19:05 PST
Subject: 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love

It was written:

>All this is not to say that the film works exclusively to closet
>questions of homosexuality.  As I noted in my earlier post, I was
>perplexed by the way the film works contradictorily, seeming to closet
>and contain potentially disruptive questions (assumed to be so for
>presumptively hetero mainstream audiences) about the actors' /
>playwrights' sexuality and to "out" its own closeting of same.

And noted:

>I particularly liked the way Stoppard played with Elizabethan (and
>Shakespearian) theatrical conventions (I'm assuming, like most people,
>that the script is virtually entirely his own). Cross-dressing? The
>essential need for a muse? A benevolent and all-knowing monarch,
>disguised and at the last, appropriate moment revealed? It seemed to me
>that Stoppard was just daring critics (and academics) to take him to
>task for such outlandish and, of course, unbelievable devices. Doth
>strain credulity to think on't.

Knowing Stoppard's had a hand in the movie, and without having seen it
myself (ah Tulsa, the "stronghold of Southern culture," why do you never
get any movies except "Godzilla" on a first-run basis?), I would be
willing to venture that Stoppard is probably playing with some of the
hot issues surrounding Shakespeare (no pun intended).  In the film
version of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern," Stoppard poked fun at debates
like Hamlet's attraction for his mother, whether Polonius was a clever
schemer or a dumb puppet, etc.  I would not be surprised if he was doing
the same thing here.  He seems not only to be daring critics and
academics to take him to task, he is intentionally making fun of some of
the academic debates and suggesting, "perhaps we should just enjoy it as
humorous and dramatic literature, at least for a couple of hours."

Jason Mical
Drury College

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Hale <
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Date:           Thursday,07 Jan 99 16:12:41 EST
Subject: SHK 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love
Comment:        re: SHAKSPER: SHK 10.0024 Re: Shakespeare in Love

Some more random reflections on "Shakespeare in Love."

We saw the film on Tuesday, the Boxing Day showings in Rochester having
sold out well in advance.

It's interesting to see Imelda Saunton making a career of Nurse-like
roles. She was Margaret in Branagh's "Much Ado" and Maria in Nunn's
"Twelfth Night."

Viola/Paltrow would be a blonde, upmarket version of the Dark Lady.
Since we see her cleaning her teeth, there's no reeking breath from
Sonnet 130. If she were a character in a play by Shakespeare, she would
find a way to avoid marrying Wessex/Paris. But this is a play by
Stoppard, which is different. Wessex, incidentally, is a brief shot at
both colonialism generally and the tobacco business in particular. One
wonders how his plantation in Virginia will fare (badly if he doesn't
let Viola manage it). Viola's theatrical and sexual career implicitly
confirms the stereotype of the loose virtues of actresses-Nell Gwynne
and all that.

3. The film casually accepts Shakespeare's adultery, an acceptance which
has been around about as long as the assumption that there was some fire
behind the smoke of the sonnets to the Dark Lady. My colleagues in
creative writing are not recommending this particular cure for writer's
block.  Perhaps some historicist critic will find a parallel between one
Will, adulterer and feigner, and the one in Washington who generates so
much acceptance.
 

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