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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Shakespeare Bashing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0491  Friday, 2 March 2001

[1]     From:   Jonathan R. Hope <
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        Date:   Thursday, 1 Mar 2001 16:32:02 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0483 Shakespeare Bashing

[2]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Mar 2001 16:35:12 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0483 Shakespeare Bashing


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan R. Hope <
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Date:           Thursday, 1 Mar 2001 16:32:02 +0100
Subject: 12.0483 Shakespeare Bashing
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0483 Shakespeare Bashing

I'm fond of the following, probably unintentional, bashing of the bard's
bonce from Anthony Powell's Journals (for 11 March 1982):

'I now habitually end the day with reading Shakespeare in bed, followed
by some poetry.'

Jonathan Hope
Strathclyde University
Glasgow

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Thursday, 01 Mar 2001 16:35:12 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 12.0483 Shakespeare Bashing
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0483 Shakespeare Bashing

>Maybe this could be the beginning of a thread about what we Shakespeare
>lovers hate about Shakespeare. I, for example, could never read The
>Tempest without being disappointed. I've tried a lot of times to find
>the play good but, alas, I find it stiff and boring. (Oops, have I outed
>myself as a tasteless greaseball?)

As one whose research has as much to do with Shakespeare's
contemporaries as with Shakespeare himself, I suggest that such a
discussion may be usefully balanced by asking what plays by other
writers do we favor over particular plays by Shakespeare. And a third
useful category could be what Shakespeare plays we think are underrated.
I have seen some fascinating productions of plays that aren't generally
considered his best, so even if I say that Two Gentleman of Verona does
not present Shakespeare at his highest powers, I remember vividly a
touring group from the Kennedy Center staging it as a Western. Just
listing, then, here goes:

Shakespeare's weakest:

Romeo and Juliet (to me, his most overrated work. The boring
underwritten lovers and family members are easily upstaged by Mercutio
and Tybalt. The play should have been about them.)
all of the Henries the Sixes
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Titus Andronicus
Merry Wives of Windsor

Plays better than any of those above by Shakespeare's contemporaries

Marlowe's Edward II
Ford's Perkin Warbeck
Webster's The White Devil
Marston's Sophonisba
Middeton and Dekker's The Roaring Girl
Jonson's Bartholomew Fair
This list could be much longer, but I'll save the rest.

Underrated--or Underperformed Shakespeare:

Coriolanus (which could make a great movie)
King John (which, with its plot based on power gained by strong
possession, could have merited a mention back in December)

Jack Heller
 

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