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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Literary vs. Theatrical Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0078  Monday, 15 January 2001

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Jan 2001 05:08:40 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0041 Re: Literary vs. Theatrical Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Jan 2001 07:39:40 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0002 Re: Literary vs. Theatrical Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Jan 2001 05:08:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0041 Re: Literary vs. Theatrical Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0041 Re: Literary vs. Theatrical Shakespeare

Stephanie Hughes writes:

>Are you suggesting that he knew his sonnets were
>good, but somehow was
>uncertain about his plays, some of which were
>certainly far greater
>works in every respect?

I am consciously playing the speculation game, but here goes.  Try this:

Shakespeare may not have "known" his sonnets were good, but he may have
believed that they were more products of "art" than were his
income-producing dramatic works.  The common analogy is to compare
Shakespeare to a TV writer...I like that, but so many of us feel so
superior to sitcoms and the like that we reject the comparison out of
hand.  Instead, I would propose that we think of him as rather like a
screenwriter, who has produced many good, literate, interesting scripts
(Robert Towne, perhaps?  Just the first name that came to mind).

But this screenwriter has been for years obsessing and reworking over
His/Her Great Novel.  The writer fully believes that it is The Great
Novel for which s/he will be remembered.  And so the novel is published,
but is received with luke-warm enthusiasm.  Years later, folks in film
studies are rhapsodizing over the brilliance of our writer's scripts,
which are seen as far superior to the novel.  The writer, however, never
perceives the scripts as "art"-they are, after all, the means by which
he can afford his canyon house, alimony and Saab.  He persists in
believing that the only great thing he has ever done was the novel,
because that was intentionally produced as "art."

Having flogged the analogical horse well past its death...I rather like
thinking that Shakespeare viewed the Sonnets (along, perhaps, with the
other non-dramatic poems) as his true claim to "artistic" status.  He
may have realized that his plays were pretty good, but still, they were
his bread and butter.  And some of us do tend to devalue that which we
do for money rather than for love or art.

It is, however, all speculation.

Cheers,
Karen Peterson-Kranz

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Jan 2001 07:39:40 EST
Subject: 12.0002 Re: Literary vs. Theatrical Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0002 Re: Literary vs. Theatrical Shakespeare

Welcome the New Year then...

Just a quick aside to Stephanie Hughes's parenthesis: the term
'play-maker' doesn't seem a particularly neutral term when applied by
the puritan Edmunde Rudierde to Christopher Marlowe - ' a poet and a
filthy play-maker' (1618).

See the volume of the same name edited by Friedenreich, Gill & Kuriyama.

Yours,
Marcus
 

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