The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0787 Thursday, 5 April 2001
Date: Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 22:49:31 -0700
Subject: 12.0764 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
Comment: Re: SHK 12.0764 Re: Bard Bade Goodbye
Dear Terence Hawkes,
What a delightful post, or I should say, riposte.
>The head of Keats, for example, wildly festooned
>with metal locks which it had proved impossible to file smooth, had
>flown very erratically indeed, killing only a fat money-lender and a
>camel standing at some distance from the field of action.'
I do not for a minute deny that Shakespeare can and has been used as you
describe. Certainly his use (or misuse) by high school teachers who
don't know what they're doing has threatened legions of teenagers in the
US with slow death by boredom, though not quite as dramatic as your
examples of kultur kill.
>Given all this, your own assessment 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' struck me as
>a touch unfocused.
No doubt. But "unfocused" is not that bad. I can live with "unfocused."
>You can't separate 'Shakespeare' from the uses to
>which the plays are put.
Sure I can.
> To attempt to do so is only to use them in a
And where's the harm in that?
> Of course, cultures survive and flourish, even under
>the colonial knout. But I'd be more inclined to say that, in certain
>crucial cases, the transmission of some of 'the great cultures of the
>world' has been in spite of, rather than because of the Bard.
I never claimed that Shakespeare "transmitted" cultures, only that he
presents a gateway through which one may approach the heart of all great
cultures. His is a magical gateway that appears magnificent only if one
finds it for oneself or is shown by a trusted guide. That is, if one
passes through it willingly; if driven, it could well appear to be the
entrance to a prison yard.
All things of power can be used for evil as well as good, but that's no
reason not to make them, or to ignore, deny or minimize the good they
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