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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Parallel Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1053  Tuesday, 8 May 2001

[1]     From:   Vick Bennison <
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        Date:   Monday, 07 May 2001 11:36:53 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts

[2]     From:   Vick Bennison <
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        Date:   Monday, 07 May 2001 11:36:53 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts

[3]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Monday, 7 May 2001 11:11:10 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts

[4]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 08 May 2001 01:23:04 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
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Date:           Monday, 07 May 2001 11:36:53 EDT
Subject: 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts

I hope I'm not being annoying by constantly referring to the American
Heritage Dictionary (the only one I have on my shelf here at work) but
to whatever extent its authority is considered valid:

an, Archaic conj. And if; if: "An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby
too" ... [ME, short for and, and < OE]

and ... 6. Archaic. If: "and it pleases you". [ME < OE]

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
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Date:           Monday, 07 May 2001 12:22:45 EDT
Subject: 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts

As for "Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely", it is
interesting that in the American Heritage Dictionary (I'm probably going
to regret not waiting to look in my less abridged dictionaries at home)
"merely" is given two definitions:  1.  Being nothing more than what is
specified.  2.  Pure; unadulterated.  Both these definitions (converted
to adverbs) seem to make perfect sense applied to the sentence, i.e.,
"Things rank and gross in nature possess it in such a way that no other
thing possesses it".  But I agree that the sentence nonetheless sounds
funny to my modern ear. Ironically, the ONLY definition of "only" in the
AHD that feels close to "in a small way" is:  2b. Merely.  In my current
endeavor of directing the Tempest and playing the part of Antonio, I
must deliver to the audience the line "We are merely cheated of our
lives by drunkards".  I have a similarly difficult time hanging
semantics on that "merely", though I know exactly what the line is
supposed to be saying: "We are cheated of our lives by drunkards and no
one else" or possibly "We are cheated of our lives by mere drunkards".
Both "merely" and "only" can have the meaning "solely", which feels
better to my ear in both lines.

- Vick

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Monday, 7 May 2001 11:11:10 -0700
Subject: 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts

>My more basic point is, we don't problematize the process of gathering
>information through Shakespeare's language; we're so used to sitting
>down with annotated editions, time after time, we forget that a live
>audience's first encounter with the plays, let alone a young student's
>first encounter with a text , is far more complicated than we give
>credit.  And to paper over the natural difficulties audiences and young
>readers face, well, that courts disaster, and reinforces the perception
>of Shakespeare as dated or, as another thread has put it, "boring".,

>Andy White

Kids like the feeling of being insiders through knowing a special
language. Teenagers of all times have created their own argot, which
makes them insiders in a world in which they still often feel like
outsiders. If we tell them that this is a language that will make them
insiders in a very elite group, they may like the idea, also that this
language is also not really that difficult, since it uses so many words
they already know in the way that they are used to using them. An odd
word here or there shouldn't be any more difficult than the words they
run into in their school work that are still beyond them (or has the
flattening we see managed to eliminate everything that isn't easy?).

If we turn them on to the poetry, to the fact that this writer put
thoughts into sounds that are particularly harmonious, they may feel
that making the effort to understand will be worth it.

The best way of turning students on to Shakespeare is to read a play in
class, passing the roles around in such a way that everyone gets to read
one role for one scene, ignoring questions of reading ability or sex
(let the girls be Henry V for a change, it will probably be their only
opportunity), moving on to the next set of readers with every new scene.
Knowing they must read, they will listen with attention. Hearing other
readers stumble, they won't be fearful of stumbling themselves.
Observing the flow of the action in this way, the meaning of each speech
will become clear more quickly. Allowing for breaks for questions will
resolve questions or confusion immediately, confusion that won't dog
them through the entire play because it is immediately resolved.

Follow this in the next class with a good video of the play, which they
will enjoy to the max after having read it themselves.  It will also
tend to clear up the questions that remain. Next to performing it
themselves, this is the best way to get a class of kids into
Shakespeare. I think making them read it on their own outside of class
is next to useless. They will get bogged down early on and go into a
state of distaste for it that will be very hard to get them out of once
they're in it.

Who said, "a man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

Stephanie Hughes

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 May 2001 01:23:04 -0400
Subject: 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1039 Re: Parallel Texts

I know I'm a crank: but it seems to me that this would not be the case
if kids were exposed to the old forms at an early age-- as many kids
were when I was young.  The King James Bible, Mother Goose, A Child's
Garden of Verses, Robin Hood and King Arthur, and snippets of
Shakespeare, were all read aloud at school and church and over the
radio, and bits were memorized to be recited to the applause of doting
adults. If you read and hear a word used in its now obsolete meaning 100
times in varying contexts, you will learn that old meaning just as you
learn the modern one --- you won't have to look it up in a dictionary.
Elizabethan English isn't difficult for people who have had some use of
it.  Actors can ad lib in it, preachers can preach in it, and there were
Quaker neighbors in my youth who made the inversions and cadences of the
KJB, along with its "thees" and "thous" the common coin of their daily
speech.

At ages 7-12 my playmates and I put on improvised shows in the back yard
wherein the king character said things like "I dub thee Sir Roland the
Bold! Arise, Sir Knight, and sally forth to show true valor in thy
lady's sight."  The diction, like the costume and crown, was
irresistible.

In fact it still is, to kids who are hooked on sword and sorcery
computer games.  My youngest grandson, just turned 5, swaggers around in
a bath towel cape and a plastic helmet, yelling "Avaunt, monster! Ha!"
His brother, 10, plays "Diablo II" on the Internet.  Although his
spelling is always nonstandard, and his reading and writing substandard
when applied to school work, he has no trouble reading and typing the
archaic forms he encounters on the computer while playing his favorite
game.

Geralyn Horton
Newton, Mass. 02460
<http://www.stagepage.org>

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