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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: October ::
Re: Bowdlerized Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1719  Monday, 11 October 1999.

From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Oct 1999 12:30:20 -0400
Subject: 10.1715 Re: Shakespeare References
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1715 Re: Shakespeare References

>Ontario also used bowdlerized Shakespeare editions in
>its high schools until the late 1950s-early 60's.
>Do older members of the group from other areas recall similar
>texts from their high school days?

I do, although at this distance the details aren't clear.

This was Clay-Genoa High School, Genoa, Ohio, pop 1702, in the
mid-fifties. I do remember as a freshman or sophomore noticing that
lines were missing from the high school edition.  I was a Shakespeare
nut even then, and had favorite passages memorized. I also remember
checking other editions in the town's tiny library to see if there might
be some scholarly reason for the cuts, and deciding that they were made
to eliminate sexual references that students might "get" or- horrors!--
ask to have explained in class. I was SHOCKED!--but I remember deciding
NOT to make an issue of this bowdlerization.   This was a rare bit of
prudence on my part, but it struck me that out of the other 1701 people
in town the only one who cared about obsolete euphemisms and ancient
dirty jokes was my friend Marge: and the two of us should keep this info
to ourselves if we wanted to graduate from Genoa and go on to college.
(Only 5 of our fellow-students planned to do so.)

I used a version of this incident in my comedy about budding
intellectuals c.1959, "Intercourse, Ohio" --- which just returned
rejected once more, the comment being (what else?) that the script is
"too intellectual for our audience"

Geralyn Horton, Playwright
Newton, Mass. 02460
<http://www.tiac.net/users/ghorton>
 

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