The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0689 Tuesday, 4 April 2000.
Date: Monday, 3 Apr 2000 11:16:15 -0500
Subject: 11.0662 Re: Some Thoughts
Comment: Re: SHK 11.0662 Re: Some Thoughts
I changed the subject heading after hitting the "reply" button for "The
Topic that dare not speak its name"-you know, the one about Shakespeare
and "pornography" and "free speech", and whatever, etc. I'm not sure
under what heading this might be, or even if it's appropriate for the
list (but that's why we have the most excellent Hardy Cook!)
I've been reading a provocative book by Peter J. Gomes, preacher to
Harvard University, called "The Good Book". It's obviously about
Biblical interpretation, but I suspect, without meaning to give offense
to anyone, if we substituted "Shakespeare" for "scripture", some of what
Gomes has to say might be appropriate to any discussion about any topic
on the list.
Three quotes should suffice:
"The task of reading scripture [Shakespeare?] has always been to attempt
a reconciliation between what is particular and peculiar to the time and
place of its writing and what is universally applicable beyond the
bounds of time and place, and beyond circumstance and culture. . .
.Human beings may be universally and always flawed; and yet the
expression and the context of those flaws are subject to the changing
circumstances of our history and culture."
"The history of interpretation is the history of the presuppositions
that interpreters bring to their work."
"What is at stake is not simply the authority of scripture. . .but the
authority of the culture of interpretation by which these people read
scripture in such a way as to lend legitimacy to their doctrinaire
Ring any bells? I find the last quote, especially the phrase "to lend
legitimacy to their doctrinaire prejudices" particularly appropriate to
much of what I'm seeing on our list.
By the way, I *refuse* to be drawn into a discussion as to whether or
not there are truly any "universals!"