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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Why Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1527  Monday, 18 June 2001

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Jun 2001 12:50:54 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Leslie Simmons <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Jun 2001 13:24:12 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Jun 2001 14:36:08 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Sophie Masson <
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        Date:   Sunday, 17 Jun 2001 03:50:08 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Jun 2001 12:50:54 -0400
Subject: Re: Why Shakespeare
Comment:        SHK 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare

Don Bloom is 'not clear what's wrong' with Sam Small's claim that
'Shakespeare's work is about love, hate, betrayal, sexual longing,
jealousy . . . etc'.  What's wrong with it is that those things don't
exist in the soppy, transcendental mode in which Sam Small airily
presents them. No one encounters just 'love', or just 'hate' or any of
the others in the abstract. And if you try to write about them in that
way, you end up sounding like Shelley or, worse, Dylan Thomas.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Leslie Simmons <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Jun 2001 13:24:12 -0700
Subject: 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare

Mike Jensen wrote:

> Also, I know Gabriel was not an Archangel.  Not sure why I wrote it that
> way.  Sorry again.

Pardon my confusion, but should I assume here that you are referring to
your fictional character Gabriel, as opposed to the biblical Gabriel,
who is indeed an archangel?

Leslie

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Jun 2001 14:36:08 -0700
Subject: 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare

Don Bloom feels I have wronged Sam Small.  Since I am always just a
motion away from self-doubt, I contacted a couple of list friends and
asked,

>>Do you think Don Bloom was right?  Did I misconstrue
>>what Small wrote?

One replied:

>I don't know.  When I read it the first time I reacted
>exactly as you did...that he was, paradoxically,
>REDUCING Shakespeare by turning him into some sort of
>trans-historical culture god.

>But...when I read Bloom's comment, I re-read Small's
>comments.  Now I'm not sure.  Maybe I misinterpreted.
>I can usually tolerate the "universal genius" folks IF
>they don't get too pompous (example: I enjoy Frank
>Kermode, but Harold Bloom's various splutterings just
>make me want to slap him).  Maybe I was just
>responding to Small's pomposity -- what (Don, not
>Harold) Bloom referred to as "posturing."
>Incidentally, I usually think Don Bloom is a sensible,
>and sensitive, reader of texts AND of the various
>postings...I don't always agree with him, but I
>usually respect what he has to say.  I'm not sure
>that's relevant, but...?

The other wrote:

>I'm w/ [Name of person quoted above]... Reading Bloom led me to say
>hmmmm....

>Perhaps it is style/pomposity and the source being Sam Smallmind that
>provoked you....

>If you think it may be so, post only that: reading Don Bloom you think it
>may be so.

It may be so.  If so, I'd like to know what he did mean, because it
reads like "gentle Shakespeare, meek and mild" to me.

Mike Jensen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sophie Masson <
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Date:           Sunday, 17 Jun 2001 03:50:08 +1000
Subject: 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1510 Re: Why Shakespeare

I wasn't going to get involved in this--but decided to throw caution to
the winds!

Maybe the word 'universal' has its limits, as it were, but I perfectly
understand Sam Small's point of view. If Shakespeare's work did not have
these qualities, it would be restricted to a small scholarly,
English-speaking group by now. The very fact that our own list has so
many people of different backgrounds, including non-native
English-speakers like myself, is proof of WS' 'universality'(for want of
a better word).  But as a published novelist and short-story writer, I
must also qualify the idea that all characters are amalgams of people
one knows, or have heard of. In some ways it's true of course; no human
being operates in a vacuum.  And when I'm writing, I often feel like the
characters which go their own way, mostly, are like friends or
family-you watch as they conduct their lives, sometimes you get
involved, sometimes you watch helplessly as they get themselves deeper
and deeper into strife. What you can never do, or at least I've found
this to be the case, is to construct a character cold-bloodedly, to
symbolise something or carbon-copy someone. Non-human characters like
Ariel and Puck are of course folk or fairytale ideas, expanded and
extrapolated.\ It's a lot of fun-I do it a lot myself. Because the basis
is there in folklore, it has a depth that cannot be had purely from one
person's invention-in part, I think this happy mix explains to some
extent the success of the Harry Potter books when other, perhaps more
'original' stories have not cut the mustard.

But the whole idea of 'fiction' is of a magpie mix which cannot be
traced back purely to one source or the other; it is a mosaic of
influence, of originality, of imagination and of sheer pinching. The
best writers, like WS, both put their own stuff in and know when to
stand aloof; it is never mere carbon copy.

Sophie Masson
Author site: http://www.northnet.com.au/~smasson

_______________________________________________________________
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