2002

Re: Gertrude

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2217  Thursday, 7 November 2002

From:           Geralyn Horton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Nov 2002 10:50:52 -0500
Subject: 13.2213 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2213 Re: Gertrude

I believe that my "review" of the Updike "C & G" is in the archives.  I
love Updike's novels, stories, and essays, and have read nearly all of
them as they came out, though we are at opposite ends of the political
spectrum.  I'm the sort of female who is fodder for satire in his books,
but even Updike's cartoons are beautifully and truthfully limned.   I
read him with, and for, pleasure.

I dislike the plays of Howard Barker, but besides being a fellow leftist
playwright of my own generation, he is a powerful thinker and a
formidable figure in English-speaking theatre.    I have read everything
of Barker's  I have been able to get my hands on (Less than a quarter of
his body of work) and I would certainly see any production of one of his
plays if one were ever done near where I live.  Because I review plays
as well as write them, familiarizing myself with the work of an
important contemporary is part of my job.

I don't much like Mamet's plays, either-- but I've read them all, and
all his collected essays, and seen more than a dozen productions.  He's
the most produced and influential American playwright of his generation:
how could any theatre person ignore him?

I would not venture an opinion if all I knew of a writer's work was what
I read in reviews.

Two literary works based on the same story are not necessarily
similar.   In this case we all know that both are adaptations of
"Hamlet".  If you have evidence that Barker adapted Updike (or vice
versa), please present it.  I will apologize.  If not, perhaps you
should?

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Re: Shakespeare's Valentine? A Query

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2216  Thursday, 7 November 2002

From:           Wiliam Lloyd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Nov 2002 10:21:10 EST
Subject: 13.2214 Re: Shakespeare's Valentine? A Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2214 Re: Shakespeare's Valentine? A Query

I may not have made myself clear. The query is not on Shakespeare as a
writer of occasional verse in general. The possibility that WS wrote
epitaphs or posies for Elias James, John a Combe, Alexander Aspinall and
others is well covered in the literature. What I want to know is does
anyone have any information about THIS pair of brief poems. Are they
invented or faked? Does the Middlehill MS. even exist? Or have they just
been overlooked because they were published only in an appendix to an
obscure book?  If they are fakes, they seem to me subtly and skillfully
done.

I think the [ahem] "parallels" I pointed out with Shakespeare's work at
least approach the state of acceptable collocation:

      your beautyes charme/ Will keep... in awe     Valentine ll. 5-6
                  |               |                   |
              looks       charm        bewitch

          bewitched by the charm of looks       Sonnet 95 l.14

and

      Wooll deads the sternest blade    Valentine l.7
                  |                 |          |
            lose edge      hardest knife

      The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.  R&J Act II
Prologue l.6

Not just any blade/knife, but a superlative one-- the sternest/hardest
one.

With regard to "deads the... blade.../ weak edge turn", a 2 minute
survey of Elizabethan literature [the Marlowe concordance vs. the
Shakespeare concordance] shows that when Marlowe speaks of weapon edges
they are [as we might expect] "sharp" or "slicing". But Shakespeare
refers repeatedly to ineffective edges:

      News I think hath turned your weapon's edge.      2HenVI 1.1.176
      ...doth repate and blunt his natural edge.             MM 1.4.60
      honor, which shall bate his scythe's keen edge    LLL 1.1.6

Of course these comparisons don't prove Shakespearean authorship; but
they do show that the minds of Shakespeare and the "Valentinist"
sometimes ran along similar channels.

If the Middlehill MS. does exist and the Valentine and the Marriage
Posie are really there subscribed "W.S.", I think we should look more
closely at the possibility that we have here further examples of
Shakespeare's minor occasional verse. If they are fakes, I'm curious to
know who produced them, if only because they seem so well done.

The section "Early Illustrations of Shakespeare and the English Drama"
[as the separate title page has it] are apparently the work of J. O.
Halliwell-Phillips. On pp. 86-92 he quotes a poem purporting to be from
the Middlehill MS., a satire on Barton Holiday's failed play before the
King at Woodstock. Bentley [JCS IV.595] calls this "one of the most
frequently copied in the commonplace books of the time". Halliwell then
gives three more poems from the Middlehill MS.-- a variant of Basse's
Elegy on Shakespeare [also common], and then our two short poems. If I
was a better scholar, I'd find out myself about the Middlehill MS., but
as it is I beg help from any quarter.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email 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.

Re: Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2215  Wednesday, 6 November 2002

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 17:10:30 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

[2]     From:   Elizabeth Klett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Nov 2002 11:31:17 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

[3]     From:   M. Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 09:35:29 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

[4]     From:   David Linton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 12:54:54 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

[5]     From:   Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 18:25:59 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

[6]     From:   Michael B. Luskin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 16:48:45 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 17:10:30 -0000
Subject: 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

>"The study of mediocrity, whatever its origins, breeds mediocrity."
>                                                      --Harold Bloom
>
>Bloom's epigram applies pointedly to Shakespeare in Performance.  In any
>given period, most Shakespearean productions are mediocre, and of no
>lasting significance.  This is no less true of productions emanating
>from London, New York, Hollywood, Ashland and both Stratfords than it is
>of those from other venues.  Most theatrical productions are justly
>forgotten on closing night, and the factitious permanence of celluloid
>does not instill lasting value in everything printed upon it.  Yet it is
>precisely these undistinguished productions that form the pseudo-canon
>of this pseudo-discipline.

If "mediocre" productions are not worth studying, are they worth seeing,
or performing in?  Could the Charles Weinstein who criticises the
mediocrity of just about every Shakespearean production (on film, or in
the theatre) and all writing about these productions, be in any way
related to the Charles Weinstein whose performance as Bottom in
"Midsummer Night's Dream" is described by the Boston Theater Mirror's
Reviewer in the following terms ...? :

"Charles Weinstein, ordinarily a formidable comic actor, seems oddly
cast as Bottom, never really embodying the kind of gregariousness, size
and love that is Bottom. With stark receding hairline and Peter Lorre
eyes, Weinstein almost seemed in another play at times, and not just
different from the other actors, but sometimes different from himself
from line to line. His erratic and sometimes spooky take on this
loquacious weaver ran the gambit from funny to strange to
incomprehensible, at times soliciting dead silence from the audience.
Further, Bottom and the mechanicals are a band of brothers, but this
band strangely seemed to hold little affection for their leader as
evidenced in their forced reunion in the final act."

See:  http://www.theatermirror.com/midsum.htm

Would Weinstein let us know whether a production described in these
terms is worthy of study?  Of review?  Of being watched?  Why did he
bother to act in it?  The answer is surely that even the most mediocre
production of Shakespeare is an attempt by those involved to produce a
great or at least an entertaining production, and that even when such
well meaning attempts go hideously wrong (as Weinstein's seems to have
done here) there is value in the attempt, and often varying opinions
about the level of success or failure.

Unless we go back to a study of Shakespeare that only allows dusty
academics in book-lined studies the right to comment about Shakespeare's
greatness (as preserved in the Quartos and Folios), then we must study
modern Shakespearean productions to see what modern actors, directors,
and audiences are making out of these wonderful plays in our own time -
and for a large proportion of the population, seeing Shakespeare on Film
or in Performance is the most visceral and important way of experiencing
Shakespeare's works.  If Shakespeare was never performed, then his plays
might as well have been novels (and even novels often get filmed).  If
the productions are weak or fail - and like most people on this list I
cannot accept that every film and almost all theatrical productions of
Shakespeare are worthless, as Weinstein seems to believe - then these
films and productions should be studied to show why or how they fail,
and suggestions should be made about how they can be improved in future.

If studies of Shakespearean performance are worthless, and acting in
mediocre productions of Shakespeare is worthless, then somebody needs to
help us to work out how one produces productions of Shakespeare that are
not worthless.  Charles Weinstein (apparently one of those mediocre
actors, on at least one occasion) does not make any attempt to do this,
however, he simply snipes at other people's presumed mediocrity while
failing to acknowledge his own.  Those who do study Shakespearean
performance are at least engaged in a criticism with positive motivation
- showing what they and others believe are important aspects of modern
Shakespearean production, and identifying those aspects of productions
which - for various reasons - do not work for the critic or parts of the
audience.

If Weinstein really feels that Shakespeare in Performance is such a
monumentally worthless activity, then I cannot understand why he spends
so much of his time acting in Shakespeare productions, writing about
Shakespeare in Performance, and reading SHAKSPER.

Of course we know, from past experience, that Weinstein will not respond
in any way to the points made against him, and will just endlessly
repeat his loathing of Shakespeare on Film, in Theatre, and studies of
Shakespeare in Performance.  There is no value to such a hollow and
unresponsive viewpoint.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"
http://shakespearean.org.uk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Klett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 05 Nov 2002 11:31:17 -0500
Subject: 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

I have no idea what prompted Charles Weinstein's diatribe against
scholars who (like myself) study, write about, and teach Shakespeare in
Performance.  It is typical, however, that he begins with a quote from
Bloom, proponent of Bardolatry and defender of the Western canon (both
of which have ensured that his books always appear on the bestseller
lists).  Bloom's tired defenses of the canon aim to deter the expansion
of English Studies as a discipline, and prompt such questions as:  Who
determines whether a work is "mediocre" or not?  Can Charles Weinstein
put together an objective list of qualities that would admit a literary
work (or a performance of Shakespeare) into the ranks of "great" rather
than merely "good," "mediocre", or "bad"?  How do we define these
categories, and who gets to decide upon them?  These are questions which
have been asked many times before by those who have sought to expand or
discard the idea of the canon.  It seems impossible, in my opinion, to
cite Bloom, as it were, at face value, totally disregarding the debates
over the canon that have been taking place for decades now.

If Mr. Weinstein were at all familiar with the excellent work being done
in the field of Shakespeare in Performance, he would certainly not
assume that performance scholars take the attitude that "anything
goes."  I would point him toward the work of Barbara Hodgdon, W. B.
Worthen, Susan Bennett, Richard Burt, Alan Dessen, and Anthony Dawson,
to name a few, none of whom are "indiscriminate millers."

I can only assume that Mr. Weinstein's attack was calculated to provoke
answers like mine, to which he can then launch counter-attack.  Although
I could not resist the opportunity to reply to such an offensive and
narrow-minded outburst, I have no desire to take part in a
back-and-forth nit-picking and sniping match.  (Nor do I want to cause
any more headaches for our editor!)  Instead, I have to get back to my
dissertation, which, incidentally, is filled with analysis of
Shakespearean productions that Weinstein would most certainly consider
"mediocre, trivial, and dull."  As far as I'm concerned his dismissal
would qualify as a ringing endorsement.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M. Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 09:35:29 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2205 Anything Goes or Whatever Is, Is Right

While I usually do not like to bite at obvious provocation, something
interesting might come of the discussion in this case.

Mr. Weinstein seems to think that only the best art is worthy of study.
However, anthropologists and cultural historians would argue that any
cultural product can be looked at productively. The field of performance
studies has in its brief existence drawn as much from anthropology and
figures like Goffman as from literary criticism. (In fact, in some
circles and notably in The Drama Review under Michael Kirby's
editorship, the role of the performance scholar was seen to document
performance, not to evaluate them.)

While it is true that few works in any discipline are masterpieces, that
does not mean there is nothing worth consideration and debate in the
tiers under timeless.

And timelessness cannot enter into this. Mr. Weinstein says that since
performances do not stand the test of time, they should not be
considered. This is disingenuous because the nature of theater is
ephemeral. Mr. Weinstein might just as well say pencil sketches are not
worthy of study because their color palate is so limited. In fact, it is
the ephemerality that makes the study of performance so
important--because even the greatest insights a production provides will
be lost as the years go by unless that production is documented and
discussed.

I am somewhat baffled at why anyone with such a contempt for theater
would have any interest in Shakespeare. I may be a bit of a purist, but
I do think that Shakespeare


Re: Taming of the Shrew Film

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2215  Thursday, 7 November 2002

From:           Sam Small <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Nov 2002 14:35:46 -0000
Subject: 13.2208 Re: Taming of the Shrew Film
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2208 Re: Taming of the Shrew Film

Claude Caspar's defence of his previous peculiar remark should warm the
hearts of many an embryo dictator.  To be told something is beautiful is
an assault on our freedom of thought.  Many intelligent people thought
Communism was a jolly good thing 30 years ago.  Where are they now?
That an intelligent person says something is beautiful means nothing at
all.  Precisely nothing.  It is in the eye of the beholder - to other
beholders it could be gross ugliness.  For instance, I find Mozart's
music spiritless, clever-clever, computer-esque, soulless, two
dimensional, repetitive and tuneless.  Why?  I have no idea and I have
no intention of finding out.  I think Rembrandt was a genius above all
others but find Picasso a bore.  JS Bach's music always thrills me,
whereas Jazz leaves me stone cold.  I love the Sex Pistols but find The
Clash tiresome.  God only knows why and I don't think he's about to tell
me.

Loving Shakespeare is not a truth waiting to be discovered by all
members of the human race.  Millions of people find going to a
Shakespeare play near to torture.  They find the plots mind-numbingly
predictable, characters seem camp and affected, speeches seem to last
for hours, relationships have no logic, the language deliberately
opaque, emotional outbursts seem to have no credence and - as a cab
driving father of an actor friend of mine said - "it's posh people
talking bollocks."

Of course it's true that our tastes change as we get older.  But
sometimes things we liked as youths we no longer find attractive.  It is
all a question of taste, upbringing, education, friends, chance, destiny
and a thousand other factors.  In short - taste is a mystery.

America's irreverence for hierarchy is the centrepiece of the national
culture.  Or else they'd still be a British satellite waiting to hear
the next wise decree uttered from another pompous barefaced English
aristocrat.  I don't think so.  America could be the spiritual centre of
the earth because of her rejection of traditional cultural tyranny.
Shakespeare would have emigrated.  I might too.

SAM SMALL
http://www.passioninpieces.co.uk

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email 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.

Re: Shakespeare's Valentine? A Query

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2214  Wednesday, 6 November 2002

From:           Claude Caspar <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 19:14:27 -0500
Subject: 13.2203 Shakespeare's Valentine? A Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2203 Shakespeare's Valentine? A Query

>I have not seen these occasional poems mentioned in any survey of
>Shakespeare's minor verse, not even to deny them. Have they been
>exploded?.. Has anyone ever written about this?

I have seen such mentioned in various bios, usually with a smile.  The
one that seems to have some weight [for some scholars] is the grave
marker doggerel often quoted (Honnigmann?), but my memory fails just
now. That something so lame WS might well have intended for his grave is
food for thought.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email 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.

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