The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1093 Thursday, 5 June 2003
Date: Wednesday, 4 Jun 2003 10:48:31 -0500
Subject: 14.1075 Santayana Quoted Correctly
Comment: Re: SHK 14.1075 Santayana Quoted Correctly
Claude Caspar's supplying more of the relevant quote from Santayana
>"Hence, a paradox important in the arts: that the passions most movingly
>portrayed are passions that nobody has ever felt. Not only does the poet
>never actually feel the emotion he is expressing - he would not be an
>artist if he did - but the ideal personage he is enacting, if that
>personage had existed, would not have felt the pure, the glorified
>emotions that the author's words or theme suggest to the public."
Part of this I can buy. I agree that a writer cannot feel the full range
or intensity of the emotion he or she is presenting while doing the
actual writing. You could not, for example, write R&J 3, 3 while
writhing around on the floor, sobbing and screaming for death. On the
other hand, it would be foolish (to my mind) to suggest either that no
one in the entire history of the human race ever felt such an extremity
grief, or that no one (including authors) experiences some degree of
grief, even if it never ran to Romeo's extreme. But this is what
Santayana seems to be saying.
There seems to be some kind of code meaning to "ideal personage" and
"pure . . . glorified emotion," as well as the previously discussed
"passions nobody has ever felt," that is still eluding me.
PS. Just to clarify (I hope) the way I look at it. I would wager that WS
experienced something like the same soul-destroying grief when his
boy died. I know I would.
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