Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Parallel Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1069  Wednesday, 9 May 2001

[1]     From:   William Proctor Williams <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 08 May 2001 09:45:53 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

[2]     From:   Vick Bennison <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 08 May 2001 10:25:48 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

[3]     From:   Andrew W. White <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 8 May 2001 11:04:18 -0400
        Subj:   Parallel Texts

[4]     From:   Kris McDermott <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 8 May 2001 10:54:01 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

[5]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 8 May 2001 16:49:16 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

[6]     From:   Nancy Charlton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 08 May 2001 20:32:50 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 08 May 2001 09:45:53 -0400
Subject: 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

I have not been following this thread perhaps as closely as I should,
but I assume this all started with discussion of the "Shakespeare Made
Easy" series, published in the US by Barron's and in the UK by
Hutchinson.  If so, there has been no mention, so far as I remember, of
one of my favorites from the series.  Marc Antony begins, in most texts,
his oration: "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." This is
rendered as, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, your attention please."
Perfectly fine as an announcement on the PA system at the airport in
Rome, but hardly what one might expect in the dramatic circumstances of
the play.

William Proctor Williams

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 08 May 2001 10:25:48 EDT
Subject: 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

Reading my own reply I realized that I was a bit ambiguous.  What I was
pointing out was that according to AHD, both "an" and "and" were used
archaically to mean "if", supporting what someone said previously,
making it unnecessary to change, for example, "And it had not fallen
flat-long" in the Folio Tempest to "An it had not fallen flat-long" in
the version on the MIT site.

- Vick

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew W. White <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 8 May 2001 11:04:18 -0400
Subject:        Parallel Texts

There are a number of good points here to pick through, so excuse me as
I get out my shovel and dig myself in a few feet deeper . . . The fact
that we have to resort to dictionaries to figure out what _our own
lines_ mean indicates that Elizabethan English is (in effect) an obscure
dialect that even the grown-ups don't fully understand.  My point would
be that Shakespeare wasn't in the business of talking over people's
heads, he was usually in the business of entertainment, and
entertainment involves _direct_ communication, not the vague, oblique
poetic kind that we teach our kids to appreciate.

It's great, I agree, to give teenagers the idea that this is a sort of
'secret language,' but in such groups, the code is instantly
understood.  In my day, as my friends and I developed our special
vocabulary, you _never_ had anybody reaching for the dictionary; a new
word's meaning was completely clear, and based on the context we had
created for ourselves.  Not so with Elizabethan English -- we're
basically walking in after the fact, and we are reduced to nodding our
heads, hoping to get along with a less-then-perfect outsider's view.

I agree with Geralyn Horton that early readings of the King James
Version are a plus, although that assumes a Christian-leaning
household.  And she leads me to a more basic point:  Shakespeare himself
had a far better education, because he didn't waste his youth in English
classes:  he was taught Latin.  English was for the schoolyard and the
street; at school, he was expected to develop his language skills by
reading and imitating Horace, Virgil, Cicero, et al.

Why can't our kids get a schooling as good as Shakespeare's?  There is a
new book on American public education which (according to the reviews)
shows how architects of the US school system deliberately dumbed down
the curriculum, because of a condescending view of the masses.  Because
of this, we in America are a linguistic monoculture, and that is by far
our greatest handicap in understanding Shakespeare -- his was a
multilingual culture from the git-go, ours is hopelessly sterile.

Cheers,
Andy White

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kris McDermott <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 8 May 2001 10:54:01 EDT
Subject: 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

Stephanie Hughes and Geralyn Horton both mention how much kids (and even
adolescents) enjoy knowing a "secret language," which could include
Shakespearean English.   David Sedaris treats this topic hilariously in
his comic essay, "The Drama Bug" (Naked, Little, Brown, 1997: 95-105).
He describes his transformation into an Elizabethan-English-spouting
terror after an actor's visit to his classroom:

"'Perchance, fair lady, thou dost think me unduly vexed by the sorrowful
state of thine quarters,' I said to my mother as I ran the vacuum
cleaner over the living-room carpet she was inherently too lazy to
bother with. 'These foul specks, the evidence of life itself, have
sullied not only thy shag-tempered mat but also thine character.  Be ye
mad, woman?'"

-- Not to be missed.

Kris McDermott
Central Michigan University

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 8 May 2001 16:49:16 +0100
Subject: 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

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

Robert Browning, somewhere, I think  (Pippa Passes?).  But Eliot
riposted (drawing on Shakespeare at sonnets), "Why should the aged eagle
stretch his wings?"

Robin Hamilton

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nancy Charlton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 08 May 2001 20:32:50 -0700
Subject: 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1053 Re: Parallel Texts

There are several things in this one post, # 12.1053, that I'd like to
address.

Vick Bennison wrote:

>As for "Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely", it is
>interesting that in the American Heritage Dictionary . . . "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,

The online Merriam-Webster at http://www.merriam-webster.com gives three
definitions:

1 : having no admixture : PURE
2 obsolete : being nothing less than : ABSOLUTE
3 : being nothing more than <a mere mortal>

How's that for a paradox?

It seems to me that #2 is the one intended in the passage, and it would
appear to have been used in this sense as late as 80 years ago by Yeats:
"Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."

Also interesting is that "mere" seems to have no comparative, only the
superlative "merest."  Even so, something either is or is not 'pure' or
'absolute'.

> 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".

'Purely' doesn't seem right in this case, and 'absolutely' seems a bit
heavy-handed for the line in the context.  Perhaps "being nothing more
than" is right.

Next, Stephanie Hughes writes about kids needing to come to the language
naturally, and from reading aloud and acting.  Adults too!  If Early Mod
is considered by some to be a foreign language, why not use the FL
teaching technique miming the action the words express?  I'd add to
reading and seeing the video, plenty of pictures of other performances
and of the life and times of WS.  I would add that not only would all
these be helpful with the language but would also help sort out the
convoluted plots.

And Stephanie concludes by asking:

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

Robert Browning, "Andrea del Sarto" lines 98-99, courtesy of marvelous
excellent www.Bartleby.com

Then Geralyn Horton weighs in with a plug for reading the likes of

>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.

I'd add A.A. Milne and maybe Lewis Carroll.  Geralyn continues,
describing the effect:

>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.

Again, learning language.  I always think it's a shame when immigrants
to the USA make great efforts lose their early language.  The kids could
just as easily be learning both.  In fact, they could probably learn six
or ten or how many languages if the adults didn't make such a bugaboo of
it.

>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.

There was a wonderful scene in the Winona Ryder-Susan Sarandon-Gabriel
Byrne "Little Women" where Jo masterminds such a production starring all
five sisters.

I remember ages ago when the Olivier Othello made its original rounds of
the movie houses, and husband and I went one Friday night, forgetting
that the principal entertainment for teenagers in that town was to go to
the movies.  We suffered through the early part, with Sir Laurence,
Maggie Smith and Derek Jacobi hardly audible over the conversations and
popcorn crunching.  But the kids were watching, and when it came to the
denouement there wasn't a sound.   If the kids didn't understand the
language they certainly understood the emotion and the intensity.

I wrote some time ago here about a similar phenomenon when I helped
chaperone a busload of kids to a performance of "Tartuffe" in French.
Again, they got the emotions, the awfulness of what happens in that
play. They were moved -- and spoke in alexandrines for a week
afterwards.

I think if you approach the doing of Shakespeare and other older
literatures with joy and don't treat it as if it's sort of a cultural
cod liver oil, you'll let the poetry do its job: to teach and to
delight.  Then the youngster will come back to Othello or Hamlet or
Tempest many times over the course of his life, and the great poems will
be a mirror held up to nature that will provide not only an image of his
mind but a chronicle of his maturing.

Nancy Charlton

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.