Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: Classical Acting: Decline
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0692  Thursday, 7 March 2002

[1]     From:   Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Mar 2002 17:49:02 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Mar 2002 10:42:31 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Mar 2002 13:57:23 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline

[4]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 04:34:35 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Mar 2002 17:49:02 -0000
Subject: 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline

Don Bloom gamely offers, "if Mr. Steward can point out some poets of
real greatness that I have overlooked. I just don't know of any. To me
the total absence of first rate poets for many of the decades between
1400 and 1580 is as puzzling as the superabundance of them from 1580 to,
say, 1630". This can be argued, of course (Don doesn't like Skelton).
But I think it misses the point somewhat. The reason for the apparent
"superabundance" of talent after 1580 was that publishing culture had
changed fairly radically during the middle of the 16th C. in England.
Poetry was just beginning to be regarded as fit for wider circulation
than MS form among friends. Once it had been opened to the printing and
publishing market, that meant that anyone from any social class who
could write could publish poetry. That meant that much more of the
poetry that was written was reproduced more often and therefore survived
to be read, admired and canonized. Furthermore, publishing meant putting
one's name onto one's intellectual property (at least, more often than
had been thought seemly before). The moral of the story is, one cannot
consider the state of an aesthetic or a culture without considering the
material context of that aesthetic or culture. Gower's and Langland's
work barely survived because of the nature of their relationship to the
publishing market (such as it was in 1400): compare the 5 copies of
Piers Plowman with the 85 (?) copies of Canterbury Tales, in various
versions. This cannot be accounted for simply in terms of Chaucerian
genius. Now, with this in mind, one ought to rethink one's attitude to
all the anonymous lyric poetry that was produced in 15th & 16th C,
England, which is very good, despite not having somebody's name stuck at
the bottom of it.

I do hope that this doesn't look like I've moved the goal-posts.

m

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Mar 2002 10:42:31 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline

> What we may deduce from this fact is another matter,
> but if it is going
> to asserted that it is not a fact, I will need the
> evidence -- that is,
> poets of undeniable greatness in those long fallow
> periods.

The problem with this statement, and by extension much of the argument
of this thread, is that "greatness" cannot be defined absolutely.  There
are not even any agreed criteria for "greatness."  It is, in fact, a
catachrestic term.  "Great" basically means "large," and we have
borrowed that word for large to refer to something that has nothing to
do with largeness but for which we have no other term.  "Great" or
"greatness" is not useful in argument because each party in the argument
can define it in any way that favors that party's position.  Therefore,
one person can say that Skelton is not great, but Shakespeare is great.
As there is neither definition nor agreed criteria for the term "great,"
this utterance cannot serve as a valid premise for any consequent
conclusion (e.g. 'there were no "great" poets between Chaucer and
Shakespeare'); rather, it must remain as an *opinion*.  Opinions are
worthy utterances in their own right, and yes, everyone is entitled to
them, and yes, we can all learn much by sharing our opinions and
considering the opinions of others.  But they are not evidentiary.

As for "undenied greatness", well, one will have a long wait if an
example of that is what is called for.  Shakespeare does not possess
"undenied greatness" because some people DO deny that his work is
"great." Again, it's an *opinion*.

Cheers,
Karen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 06 Mar 2002 13:57:23 -0800
Subject: 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline

Arthur Lindley makes two points:

1) >The unimportant poets between Chaucer
>and Wyatt include John Skelton;
>the minor poets between Pope and Blake include Samuel Johnson and Thomas
>Gray.

Hard to dispute.

2) >Haggin would be well advised to concentrate on music criticism.

Or maybe not.  He is the lad who complained about Leontine Price being
cast is operatic roles when the characters are white.  Reminds me of a
minor, self-styled critic, but I can't quite remember his unimportant
name.

Hope I spelled Leontine correctly.  I used my Grandmother's spelling,
not able to remember Ms. Price's.

Mike Jensen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 04:34:35 -0000
Subject: 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0681 Re: Classical Acting: Decline

From:           Don Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >

>But after Chaucer the quality of writing in English drops rapidly (except in
>Scotland where he more or less lives on).

Um ...  The point at which Scots, as a language derived from an
Anglo-Saxon original, becomes distinct from the version spoken in
England is generally taken to lie somewhere between Barbour's _Brus_ and
Blind Harry's _Wallace_.  The writers to whom I presume Don is
referring, once (mis)called "The Scottish Chaucerians", Henryson and
Dunbar, were both writing in Scots, not English.

Caxton's London and Oxbridge variety of English, as a norm from which
all other OE-derived speech must be seen to depart, comes much later.

(The term "Scots" [not as a reference to Gaelic] is first used of the
language spoken north of Carlisle by Gavin Douglas in his Preface to the
_Aeneid_.  Itself, incidentally, ripped-off and tagged with rhyme by
Surrey in order to produce the first iambic rhyming couplets in English
[sic].)

As to Chaucer living on in Scotland, I think I'll leave the ball in
Don's court here.  Other than (and even this would have to be qualified)
Henryson's "Testament of Cresseid" and Dunbar's "Tretis of the Twa
Merrit Wemen and the Wedo", where?  The fifteenth century Scots poets
read Chaucer (and admired him), but then they read lots else, and were
working in a totally different tradition.

(Oddly enough, there's a better case to be made here in terms of the
Gawain Poet.  He seems to vanish in England, but the bob-and-wheel
stanza (GGK) and the mixing of alliteration and rhyme (Pearl) are both
quite often found in 15thC Scottish poetry.  Both together in Richard
Holland's _Buke of the Hullat_.)

Robin Hamilton

_______________________________________________________________
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.