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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Criticism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0115  Monday, 21 January 2002

[1]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 08:46:33 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.0101 Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale

[2]     From:   P. D. Holland <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 15:19:56 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale

[3]     From:   Doug Chapman <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 11:18:17 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale

[4]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 08:30:56 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale

[5]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 19:39:45 -0500
        Subj:   Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 08:46:33 -0500
Subject: 13.0101 Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.0101 Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale

In re the following comments:

"The victory belongs to those with superior knowledge, education,
experience and insight.  We may justly look to such spirits as examples
and guides.  That is why I quoted John Simon and Robert Brustein, the
most learned, rigorous and insightful drama critics in America."

And which oracle has compiled this universally accepted list of the best
and brightest? Is there perhaps not the slightest chance that interest,
ideology, and simple prejudice are at work?

Best,
Hugh Grady

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           P. D. Holland <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 15:19:56 -0000
Subject: 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell
Beale

There is often a point in SHAKSPER discussions when I - and perhaps
others - stop reading a particular thread because no-one is listening to
anyone else. This thread is rapidly approaching that point for me. One
small contribution though: I believe that Weinstein's, Simon's and
Brustein's assessment is inaccurate, wrong-headed and crass but - and it
is a really important but - Weinstein is absolutely right to argue that
it is one that should not be ignored or misrepresented. Simon, who seems
to me (based on limited acquaintance with his work) to be an
extraordinarily stupid reviewer, is unquestionably a very powerful one.
We need to engage with such views because of their cultural impact.

But it is worth remembering that many reviewers are encouraged to
extreme positions or feel validated in their strong opinions because
their employment depends on it: aggressive reviewing sells newspapers;
moderate reviewing does not. The only reason newspapers carry theatre
reviews is because they believe such columns sell papers; if they
thought the columns were irrelevant to sales, then the reviewer would be
likely to be sacked and the column cut.

Ignoring powerful opposite views is no help at all - and I am sure none
of us would wish to misrepresent them, even if some of them often
misrepresent the other side of the argument!

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Doug Chapman <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 11:18:17 EST
Subject: 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell
Beale

Andy White wrote,

<< Perhaps what makes Beale's quiet interpretation so unique is that for
the first time in ages, critics had to look beyond the cute face and
finely shaped leg and consider Hamlet's actual presence on-stage. >>

Well said.

Doug Chapman

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 08:30:56 -0800
Subject: 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0107 Re: Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell
Beale

Ed,

I'd like to disassociate myself from the way Mr. Weinstein quoted me.

>Charles Weinstein writes,
>
>"As Mike Jensen has so eloquently written, 'criticism is not a
>democratic process.'   The victory belongs to those with superior
>knowledge, education, experience and insight."

Ed Taft wonders in response:

>(2) Is it really true that literary arguments (or arguments of any kind)
>are invariably (or even usually) won by those with superior knowledge,
>education, experience, insight, etc.?

Mr. Weinstein quoted me a bit out of context.  It do not support his
statements.  I wrote that such critics get an audience.  You point out
that Northrop Frye had

>knowledge, education, experience, and insight were/are unmatched.
>But how many critical disciples does he have? Did he EVER have an army
>of exegetes applying the methods of _Anatomy of Criticism_ to
>literature?

You may be right, but I suggest that he does have readers, a couple of
guys named Ed and Mike amongst them.

I'd also like to congratulate Mari Bonomi, Andy White, Ben Fisler, and
Brian Willis for their insightful and intelligent posts on this subject.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 19:39:45 -0500
Subject:        Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale

Brian Willis notes that the opinion of Beale's Hamlet shared by John
Simon, Robert Brustein and myself is "in the minority." That's true, but
hardly surprising, since the present age has lost all sense of what
great classical acting is.  (I plan to elaborate on this in a future
post.)   But I'm an optimist:  I believe that posterity will recover
that sense and confirm our judgment.  That's one of the benefits of
archival videotapes.

--Charles Weinstein

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