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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: Why Shakespeare Conflicts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1702  Friday, 6 July 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 05 Jul 2001 08:28:00 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1691 Re: Why Shakespeare Conflicts

[2]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Thursday, 05 Jul 2001 13:42:21
        Subj:   Re: Why Shakespeare Conflicts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 05 Jul 2001 08:28:00 -0700
Subject: 12.1691 Re: Why Shakespeare Conflicts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1691 Re: Why Shakespeare Conflicts

Pervez,

Great answer.  Great ideas.  A couple of points.

>It was in this sense that I wrote that Dallas was universal,
>though if you don't accept this, it ought to be
>possible to find another example of something that has appeal all over the
>world, in widely
>different cultures.

We were focusing on different things.  When I wrote that *Dallas* is not
universal in anyway that is meaningful to me, I intended to focus on the
word *universal,* not your example.  Actually, we agree.  Your points
starting with:

>* Whatever it is about Shakespeare that might be universal, it can't be
>the language, because that's common only to English-speaking cultures.
>So it must be his stories, or characters, or dramatic structures, or
>wise observations, or a combination of these.

make this clear.  The word *universal,* as it was applied to Shakespeare
in the post that got all this started, was so ill defined and defended
as to not say anything of value.  The statement did not stand up to even
casual scrutiny.

>* A claim for universality that's just based on the observation (not
>made by Mike) that Shakespeare wrote about love, hate, power, betrayal
>etc. is not at all satisfactory, because almost all writers write about
>these things.  One ought to explain what's universal about >Shakespeare's
>treatment of these, and do so in a way that does not depend on the actual
>words used by him.

I'm not comfortable with the statement *almost all writers,* though I'm
not sure it is wrong.  I'd be happier with *many writers.*  Otherwise
you are absolutely right, and that may be the wisest thing said on this
thread.

>It's not really important, Mike, but when you say that you find
>Shakespeare's plots and characters more lifelike than the ones in
>Dallas,

Did I say that?  I don't think I said that.  I certainly don't believe
it.  The plot of *WT* life like?  Hardly!  *Cym*?  No way, even if Ms.
Hughes thinks so.  No, I connect with the emotions expressed by many of
the characters.  Anyone capable of my great self-contempt immediately
understands the rogue and peasant slave speech.  I have been caught by
my parents doing what I am not supposed to do, and felt their despair
that I'd ever be the son they wanted, I just wasn't trying on Henry IV's
crown at the time.  You get the point.  I have felt the feelings that
many of the characters express.  At least I think I have.

BTW, *A&C* and *Dallas* are interesting analogues, don't you think?

An anecdote about universality.  My little brother and I once had a
discussion about the relative merits of *Charley's Angels* and
Shakespeare.  I'll clean up Bob's language slightly.

"Charley's Angels is great because people care about Charley's Angels.
Nobody cares about Shakespeare.  Shakespeare is B.S.  Shakespeare sucks.
He's effing boring.  Charley's Angels is a show people can care about."

Translation: It has babes, and I like to look at babes.

That was an early statement in a 10 minute discussion.  The simple and
repeated words, "Shakespeare sucks!" nullifies many a counterargument,
so we didn't get very close to agreeing about anything.

In the sense that you used *universal,* Bob was right.  Shakespeare's TV
ratings never matched the ratings of that show, even in their last
years.  On the other hand, I doubt they'll have *Charley's Angels*
festivals on stages in many parts of the world 400 years from now,
though I suppose I'll never know.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Thursday, 05 Jul 2001 13:42:21
Subject:        Re: Why Shakespeare Conflicts

Jane Drake Brody <
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 > writes:

>...the fact that Shakespeare is
>studied, translated, performed, studied and debated in so many cultures and
>languages says to me that he is a universal writer.

I think it depends on how you define "universality" and what particular
aspects of Shakespeare (or of Shakespeare studies) you refer to.

Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka

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