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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: January ::
Re: Shakespeare Usurped
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0143  Tuesday, 28 January 2003

From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Jan 2003 16:31:34 -0500
Subject: 14.0135 Re: Shakespeare Usurped
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0135 Re: Shakespeare Usurped

>The question Sam Small raises-and it is important-is finally a question
>of genre.  The work of epic (from *Gilgamesh* to *The Lord of the Rings*
>on film) is to reassert the most deeply held communal values of the
>society to which the particular poem belongs.  (I'm aware of the
>ambiguities of that last phrase.)  Along the way, the epic text may
>question, even challenge, those values.  But it does, finally, enact and
>endorse them.  The work of drama (from Aeschylus  to Caryl Churchill) is
>to interrogate the most overtly held values of the society to which the
>work belongs.  Along the way, the drama may affirm those values.  But it
>does not, finally, unequivocally enact and endorse them.
>
>Tolkien, the student and writer of epic, and Shakespeare, the student
>and writer of drama, inhabit substantially different esthetic, moral,
>and social realms. I have never had the least difficulty in finding
>central places for both their ouevres in my own reader's and
>theater-goer's life, nor felt the least compunction about introducing
>both of them to my children. I hope I have also been wise enough to know
>that no work of art by itself (not Shakespeare, not Tolkien, not the
>Bible, not the Koran) adequately accounts for all that goes on in the
>world in which we have to live.  But I find the visions of Tolkien and
>Shakespeare more instructive about that world than many other visions.
>
>Dogmatically,
>David Evett

I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of the preceding.  For me, an
epic is a story in verse or some modern equivalent thereof that is told
by a single person; a play is a story in verse or prose that is acted
out by more than one person.  Period.

As for Rowling, Tolkein and Shakespeare, I like them all.  Again:
period.

--Bob G.

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