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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Shakespeare as Bible
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1281  Monday, 26 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Jun 2000 11:45:45 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Shakespeare, Basketball, and the Bible

[2]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Jun 2000 23:17:48 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible

[3]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jun 2000 09:20:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible

[4]     From:   Elizabeth Abele <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Jun 2000 12:08:27 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible

[5]     From:   Ian Munro <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Jun 2000 10:26:14 -0600 (MDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible

[6]     From:   Peter Hillyar-Russ <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jun 2000 14:24:42 +0100
        Subj:   Shakespeare as Bible


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 2000 11:45:45 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Shakespeare, Basketball, and the Bible

My cyber-friends Carol Barton and Sean Lawrence both point out that
Shakespeare as a kind of secular bible "is not a bad thing at all." The
case of Mr. Upchurch seems to prove their point.  Wow, Tom, what a great
story!  I guess it all depends on HOW people read Shakespeare.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 2000 23:17:48 +0100
Subject: 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible

I am deeply disturbed by references to Shakespeare as Jesus.  While it
seems to be politically correct to be so very positive about every-body
and every-thing I find myself wincing at the "Christification" of our
favourite poet.  The sonnets show him to be eminently preoccupied with
sexual activity culminating with a dose of the pox - venereal or Venus
disease was so ironic, don't you think? - that could have been the
reason for his fatal demise whilst drinking and reveling with old London
mates like Ben Johnson.  He loved money, adored social position, was
snobbish, racist, deeply, suspicious of women and loved toilet humour.
Not at all like the man from Nazareth - at least, so they tell me.

I shall always rail against the spiritless, bloodless, sexless scholars
who claim Shakespeare as their own private plaything.  He is not the
universities' moral idol and never will be.  Perhaps that is why he is
so timelessly popular.  Popularity is something the cloistered ones find
unforgivable so they spin a web of inaccessibility round the dusty old
"Complete".

The reason I love Shakespeare is that he was so very flawed with dubious
morals, but could write wonderful poetry about those very flaws and
dubious morals.  He made marvelous the miserable ordinaries like me and
probably you.

SAM

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Jun 2000 09:20:55 -0400
Subject: 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible

Ed Taft has hit it on the head (again), but surely Shakespeare's status
as secular Bible goes back to his apotheosis as British National Poet
(Michael Dobson's book is wonderful on this) in the mid-eighteenth
century. The proliferation of Shakespeare films and allusions in the
late twentieth century certainly has its precedents, too, but  there is
a Shakespeare-postmodernism connection going on nowadays that gives the
whole enterprise a different coloration, with emphases on incongruities
and an aesthetics of disunity. This connection in fact has been a topic
of a fair amount of writing over the last 15 years. Let me call
attention to Michael Bristol's "Big-Time Shakespeare," for example,
which both lays out the material situation of the current Shakespeare
industries and makes a provocative case for dealing with it. And I can't
resist plugging my own forthcoming anthology from Routledge,
"Shakespeare and Modernity: From Early Modern to Millennium," which
explores these issues (among others) as well.

Best,
Hugh Grady

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Abele <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 2000 12:08:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible

This constant discussion of the ubiquitous nature of Shakespeare in our
society runs so counter to Levine's _Highbrow/Lowbrow_.  I had thought
that Levine might have adapted his position, but as late as '97 he wrote
program notes for a NYSF Shakespeare in the Park production where he
reiterated his thesis that 19th century American had a closer
relationship to the Bard than we do.  I had thought it strange that
Highbrow/Lowbrow totally overlooked Papp's free and updated production
styles, and the growth of summer free-Shakespeares across this
notion--so the fact that NYSF should ask Levine to write program notes
seemed ironic to me.

In light of increased Shakespeare film production and scholarly work on
the pop presence of Shakespeare, how is Highbrow/Lowbrow currently
regarded?

Elizabeth J. Abele

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[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ian Munro <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 2000 10:26:14 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1273 Re: Shakespeare as Bible

Ed Taft writes:

>Thanks to Sophie for her support for my hypothesis that the current
>explosion of all things Shakespeare needs scholarly attention and
>analysis.

Well, I do think it's starting to get it; to stick just to listmembers,
Richard Burt's recent work as both writer and editor is certainly
developing this area.

>What do others think?  Why are we wallowing in William's works
>whenever and whither we wander?

See Marge Garber's "Shakespeare as Fetish" (SQ, 1990) for one of the
most persuasive answers to this question (in my opinion).

Ian Munro

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hillyar-Russ <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Jun 2000 14:24:42 +0100
Subject:        Shakespeare as Bible

If this thread is reconsidered as "Shakespeare as Liturgy" there may be
reasons for the exaltation of Shakespeare in the liturgical changes of
the last 35 years. (At least in England - for the small but influential
elite of the "Educated Middle Class"). For centuries prior to the mid
1960's the English middle class had worshipped in Church of England
churches using the Bible of 1611 and the Book of Common Prayer of
1552/1662. The effective ending of that tradition (brought about by
declining church attendance and liturgical modernisation) may have left
a nostalgic void, a feeling of desertion by God and "The Good Old Days"
(both epitomised by Elizabethan/Jacobean prose). It's got something to
do with the link between culture and cult. Shakespeare fills this
cultural void wonderfully well, providing all of the benefits of
Renaissance language, elite middle class respectability, and a welcome
absence of required dogma.

For Roman Catholics the void has been brought about by the loss of the
highly dramatic, extremely complex, Latin liturgy. Perhaps Shakespeare
fills this void by doing for (former) worshippers, what the Greek
tragedians did for the worshippers of the Greek gods.

Peter Hillyar-Russ
 

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