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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0726  Friday, 30 March 2001

[1]     From:   Kezia Vanmeter Sproat <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Mar 2001 17:03:26 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye

[2]     From:   Syd Kasten <
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        Date:   Sunday, 25 Mar 2001 12:21:57 +0200 (IST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Mar 2001 08:12:02 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye

[4]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Mar 2001 10:33:22 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kezia Vanmeter Sproat <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Mar 2001 17:03:26 EST
Subject: 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye

Terrence Hawkes wrote, in response to Stephanie,

My impression is that the bearers of 'modern English speaking culture'
have not infrequently tried their best to stamp out some of the great
cultures of the world, past and present. And far from acting as a
magnificent doorway to them, Shakespeare has often been employed as a
massive barrier against them.

This is perhaps a naive question, but having tried to break such
barriers all my life, and having just seen a very eye-opening NPR
documentary, Asian Ancestors in America (where I learned my children's
Delano ancestors traded opium), I'm very much interested in learning
more about
HOW Shakespeare has been used as a massive barrier to other great
cultures of the world.

A prolific Indian author, Deepak Chopra, interviewed on CNN or Fox
recently, said that in Catholic schools in India in his youth he had to
memorize ALL of Shakespeare. (!) I guess that would be a barrier to
learning anything about the Vedas, for example, which he said he learned
much later, after coming to the US and studying medicine at Harvard. The
interviewer tested his knowledge of Shakespeare by asking for the
opening lines of MV, and Chopra had them cold, clearly & very well
presented. Did that skill bring him to Harvard?  The interview presented
Chopra as a conduit of eastern culture to the US.

Speaking of cultural barriers, don't we have several even within this
list?

Yet, why are we here, if not Shakespeare? I'm now really tired of
cultural barriers, and hope the web erases every damn one.

Re. another thread, (if beating a dead horse here, I'm glad): Is
critical theory itself often used as a barrier, possibly to thin the
burgeoning ranks of job-seekers and build and sustain its priesthoods
for tenure in games of intellectual Keep-Away? Else, why the newby
language, e.g., problematize, essentialize? Who translated these texts?
What types of people avoid clarity? (bad priests and dictators is the
correct answer) It's kept me from staying through more than one
conference, and stopped me from going to most, which I used to attend
for fun. I found Stanley Fish's then-revolutionary presentation on
Paradise Lost (MLA, Chicago, late 60s or early 70s) thrilling and
liberating, and also clear.

Kezia Vanmeter Sproat

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Syd Kasten <
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Date:           Sunday, 25 Mar 2001 12:21:57 +0200 (IST)
Subject: 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye

>.............................................  Eh?  My impression
>is that the bearers of 'modern English speaking culture' have not
>infrequently tried their best to stamp out some of the great cultures of
>the world, past and present. And far from acting as a magnificent
>doorway to them, Shakespeare has often been employed as a massive
>barrier against them.

Having read translations into English of Baghavad Gita, 1001 Nights,
Inferno and poetry of Pushkin, to name fruits of a handful of cultures
of the world, past and present, it would interest me, in the spirit of
Terence Hawkes, to see a short list of the cultures the writer of the
above lines had in mind, and a description of the often used massive
barrier.

With sincere respect
and best wishes,
Syd Kasten

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Mar 2001 08:12:02 -0600
Subject: 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye

          Terence Hawke writes:

>Stephanie Hughes concludes that 'Shakespeare is the magnificent doorway
>to the modern English speaking culture, and through it, to the rest of
>the great cultures of the world, past and present.'  Eh?  My impression
>is that the bearers of 'modern English speaking culture' have not
>infrequently tried their best to stamp out some of the great cultures of
>the world, past and present. And far from acting as a magnificent
>doorway to them, Shakespeare has often been employed as a massive
>barrier against them.

Like Terence I find myself in disagreement with Stephanie, or at least
in perplexity. I love the man's work, and teach him in both survey and
specialty courses, but I'm not sure how he becomes a doorway to the
"great cultures of the world, past and present." Does she mean that if
you read "Julius Caesar" you'll wish to know more about late Republican
Rome,  or that "King Lear" leads you into a study of quasi-mythic
Brythonic history?  I presume she doesn't mean that you'll be lured into
further reading on the history of China, India, Islam, Sub-Saharan
Africa, Meso-America, or any of those other "great cultures of the
world."

On the other hand, I'm not sure what attempts to stamp out a great
culture Terence is referring to, nor how Shakespeare was employed in
this activity.  I am familiar with the efforts of American slave-holders
in the first half of the 19th Century to crush all aspects of African
culture -- language, religion, and arts -- in their chattels, but that
was a specific attempt at mass brainwashing in order maintain the safety
of the owners (rather effective, too, according to Frederick Douglass).
It had nothing to do with African culture as practiced in Africa. An
argument might be made about the Indian policies of the United States,
especially in the past century and a half. But that often took the form
of misguided kindness, based on the idea that Native Americans would be
happier if they abandoned their traditions and became solid bourgeois
types. Perhaps he is thinking of British policies in Ireland.

In any case, I am still stymied by the phrase "not infrequently" that
modifies the verb phrase "stamp out," and even more so by the use of WS
as "massive barrier against them [the great cultures]."

Regards,
don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Mar 2001 10:33:22 -0800
Subject: 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0709 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye

> Stephanie Hughes concludes that 'Shakespeare is the magnificent doorway
> to the modern English speaking culture, and through it, to the rest of
> the great cultures of the world, past and present.'  Eh?  My impression
> is that the bearers of 'modern English speaking culture' have not
> infrequently tried their best to stamp out some of the great cultures of
> the world, past and present. And far from acting as a magnificent
> doorway to them, Shakespeare has often been employed as a massive
> barrier against them.
>
> Terence Hawkes

This response has me mystified. There must be some subtext that eludes
me.  Who are these "bearers" and how have they used Shakespeare as a
"massive barrier" against the great cultures of the world as they
"stamp" them out?

In hopes of edification . . .

Stephanie Hughes
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