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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: June ::
SHK 10.1058
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1058  Thursday, 24 June 1999.

[1]     From:   Simon Malloch <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Jun 1999 22:26:23 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1045 Re: Future of the Classics

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Jun 1999 15:47:44 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1041 Re: Future of the Classics


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Malloch <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Jun 1999 22:26:23 +0800
Subject: 10.1045 Re: Future of the Classics
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1045 Re: Future of the Classics

Judith Craig wrote:

>I was wondering, as someone who loves Shakespeare and who is trying to
>read him in terms of the Greek and Latin classics, why we associate
>classical learning with memorization?

I suppose because for many of us, access to a true classical education
can only come when one has learnt the languages of Greece and Rome: that
involves a conscious effort at memorisation,  unless of course one is
lucky enough to have studied either or both from a very young age.  On
this foundation the edifice is built: no wonder people end up being able
to quote the stuff!

>I must confess that I can't read Greek or Latin and that he could, but
>I ENJOY reading them and puzzling out his transformations of them.
>Should we be denied this pleasure because we are more illiterate than
>he (supposedly) was or because we are intimidated by the "classics
>establishment?"

If you want to access Greece and Rome via translations, that is fine.
And maybe that is how Shakespeare predominantly accessed them, in which
case even better!

Unless I have missed something, I can see no-one denying you the
pleasure.  Least of all the so-called "classics establishment".

Incidentally, this may say more about me, but when the question was
first put concerning the "future of the Classics", I thought that it
meant Greek and Roman Classics,  not the Classics a la Penguin classics.

Simon Malloch.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Jun 1999 15:47:44 +0100
Subject: 10.1041 Re: Future of the Classics
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1041 Re: Future of the Classics

Harry Hill advocates learning by heart:

>Rather than provide anecdotal instances from my own
>childhood and thus invite sneers...

I think you're pretty much running that risk anyway, Harry.

>I shall just say that I have always found the ability to
>quote accurately and well to be one of the distinguishing
>characteristics of anyone, of any culture and background,
>who rightly calls herself cultured.

Do you mean the learning of any text? In the same sentence you use
"culture" to mean something like 'a collection of intellectual and
social values common to an ethnic group' ("any culture and background")
and to mean 'appreciation of high artistic achievements' ("calls herself
cultured").

Since Shakespeare lurks behind this assertion-that's why I ask if you
mean ANY text-these two uses of 'culture' are significant. Surely the
tension between the two meanings, between 'that which is common to a
group' and 'that which is excellent' is the crux of the matter, since
the implication of your assertion is that Shakespeare is inherently good
for the reader and hence non-white, male, middle-class tastes are
inferior.

>I really do think that too many of us who teach
>Shakespeare have been, well....insufficiently buggered
>and biggered by the bard.

Forgive me if I'm missing an allusion in your phrase "buggered and
biggered" (it rings a faint bell for me), but do you mean that
Shakespeare's merit is akin to the possession of a large penis?

Gabriel Egan
 

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