Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1474  Thursday, 30 May 2002

[1]     From:   Bruce Young <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 30 May 2002 09:46:12 -0600
        Subj:   Re: Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?

[2]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 30 May 2002 18:43:45 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 30 May 2002 09:46:12 -0600
Subject: 13.1461 Re: Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1461 Re: Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?

Andy White raises the question of whether, like Machiavelli, Shakespeare
ever "explicitly teases his audience for expecting the unities."  I can
think of at least one instance where Shakespeare does just that.  At any
rate that's how I read the following lines from The Winter's Tale:

     Impute it not a crime
To me, or my swift passage, that I slide
O'er sixteen years and leave the growth untried
Of that wide gap, since it is in my pow'r
To o'erthrow law, and in one self-born hour
To plant and o'erwhelm custom.

This is of course "Time" speaking, or rather an actor (or Shakespeare)
speaking "in the name of Time."  What the character is saying is that--
since he is "Time" or is speaking with Time's authority--he has the
power to establish and change law and custom, including the law or
custom that prohibits "slid[ing] / O'er sixteen years" in a theatrical
presentation.  Sounds like the "unity of time" to me.

The point--not explicitly stated, but pretty clear, I think--is that, if
anybody has a right to violate the unity of time, it's "Time" himself.
The point is ingenious, but pseudo-logical (since it's really
Shakespeare, not "Time," who is breaking the rule)--a bit like the witty
pseudo-logic in some of Donne's poetry.

It appears then that Shakespeare was aware of the "unities" and of his
own failure (usually) to follow them.  It also appears he didn't worry
about them much and was comfortable with his own mode of dramatic
writing.

Bruce Young

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 30 May 2002 18:43:45 -0500
Subject: 13.1461 Re: Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1461 Re: Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?

> Had he been one (pace,
> Jonson), he probably would have bored us to tears.
>
> Andy White

Hear hear. The preponderance of Elizabethan drama, for all its
contemporaneous brilliance, is hardly endurable today. I don't suggest
that a universal classicism is the cause, but spotty attempts at
classicism are among the many causes.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell
<
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >

_______________________________________________________________
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.