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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Plays and Literature
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1290  Thursday, 31 May 2001

From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wed, 30 May 2001 13:20:04 -0400
Subject:        Plays and Literature

John Velz asks,

"If Shakespeare knew as everyone knew that plays were scripts and that
the "two hours' traffic of our stage" forbade mounting more than about
2100 lines, then what on earth did he think he was doing writing reams
of stuff that would have to hit the cutting room floor?"

Good question. I've heard it said that a partial answer might be that
Elizabethans talked so much faster than us that 3000 lines equals 2-2
1/2 hours on the stage. I don't believe it.

I'd suggest that Shakespeare did quite a bit of revising and augmenting
in preparation for publishing his works. John says that Shakespeare was
no revolutionary, like Jonson, but Jonson himself tells us that Will was
full of "brave notions." He might not be as conservative as John thinks.

More to the point, the real issue is self worth: to what extent did
Shakespeare himself think that he ranked among the best poets and
playwrights of all time?

I'll put my money on Shakespeare as a canny evaluator of the merits of
his own work.

Cheers,
--Ed

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