Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Shakespeare Bashing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0525  Tuesday, 6 March 2001

[1]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 05 Mar 2001 10:02:46 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0508 Re: Shakespeare Bashing

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 5 Mar 2001 18:50:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0508 Re: Shakespeare Bashing


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 05 Mar 2001 10:02:46 -0800
Subject: 12.0508 Re: Shakespeare Bashing
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0508 Re: Shakespeare Bashing

Robert Peters wrote:

> Shakespeare's weakest:
>
> Titus Andronicus (makes Hannibal seem like a masterpiece)
> The Taming of the Shrew (misogynic and just not funny)

I believe (A) Shrew was originally a wedding play, written as a roast
for a private prenuptial household celebration of the marriage of Lord
Strange to Alice Spencer (1579). Their names are both in the play, the
word "strange" is used a lot, etc, etc., etc. As a roast it was
basically a satire, not a comedy, based on an old folk tale in which a
bride is trained with the same methods used in training hawks. When seen
as a roast, the problematic treatment of Kate and her capitulation at
the end make sense.  (I have a paper on this, which I'll post to anyone
who might be interested). There's no need to get worked up over the date
being too early for Shakespeare. No one has a problem labelling any play
with this problem as his "source" or an early version by someone else.

> Most overrated plays:
>
> The Tempest (to me the play just doesn't start until it's over)

Also a private wedding play, this one for the marriage of the Earl of
Derby to Elizabeth Vere, in 1595. Many references to the situation
surrounding the marriage are found in the play. It may also have been
edited to eliminate too close a reading. Also, as a wedding play, it may
have been more of what we would regard as an early musical (or opera),
with the plot and characters more of a setting for the music and
dancing, which sadly, are missing.

>Hamlet (every time I read the play I don't know if it is the
>most
>profound masterpiece or a badly constructed piece about a
>neurotic
 >weirdo - must be me...)

Hey, we can't all be neurotic wierdos.

> Henry V. (it's propaganda, isn't it?)

This was Shakespeare's rewrite of The Famous Victories, which he wrote
to encourage men to sign up for one or the other of the two expeditions
Essex undertook to attack Spain in the mid-90s.

> Underrated plays:
>
> Troilus and Cressida (cynical, witty, experimental, strange, a nuisance,
> sheer punk = fantastic)
> Measure for Measure (his most profound play, should get the
> applause Hamlet gets)

We must consider why a play was written and who would have been
its audience. There's not enough romance in MforM to sustain its
popularity past generational changes in appetite and temperament
of the theater audience.

> Plays that should have get the Elizabethan Olivier award rather
> than Shakespeare:
>
> Ben Jonson: Volpone (this is just a hilarious, profound comedy
> that is really funny)

Perhaps it works in performance (I've never seen it done). It sure isn't
funny on the page.

>> 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.)
> Well, I have to say I LOVE Romeo and Juliet but what Jack Heller
> says is
> right: I prefer Mercutio and Tybalt very much to the lovers.
>Especially
> Romeo is a kind of bore, isn't he?

I believe the original R&J was written very early, when he identified
with Romeo, while the version we have from the FF is a later rewrite in
which he identified more with Mercutio, and so expanded his role. I
believe he did this with many plays (most obviously with AYLI) layering
new characters and business over old for new productions.

>> Plays better than any of those above by Shakespeare's
>>contemporaries
>>
>> Marlowe's Edward II
>
> Well, I could never get myself to like Marlowe. Edward II is
> maybe his
> best play but what about stuff like the Jew of Malta? Very very
> strange stuff.

I thought poorly of Jew of Malta until I saw Ian McDiarmid (sp?) in it
in London in 1999, where it came to marvelous, compelling life. It is
much more in the mode that would be taken up later by Webster, a real
shocker. And VERY political. (Hey, you don't really think Marlowe was
murdered because of spying, do you?)

     Stephanie Hughes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 5 Mar 2001 18:50:47 -0500
Subject: 12.0508 Re: Shakespeare Bashing
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0508 Re: Shakespeare Bashing

It's possible that plays have been overrated and underrated, but, if you
are interested in "what Sh was trying to accomplish," I don't see how
any of it can be uninteresting or irrelevant.  The most mundane or ill
constructed works can shed the most light through their cracks and flaws
on the poet's method and on his more artistically flawless works.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
http://phoenix.liu.edu/~cstetner/cds.html

> >Underrated--or Underperformed Shakespeare:
> >
> >Coriolanus (which could make a great movie)
>
> I agree with these. I've found Coriolanus absolutely fascinating,
> regarding what Sh was trying to accomplish with the play, and with the
> main character himself. Riveting - yes, it would make a great movie.
>
> Hal
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.