Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
"Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0646  Thursday, 11 March 2004

[1]     From:   William Proctor Williams <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Mar 2004 10:30:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Abigail Quart <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Mar 2004 10:54:18 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Susan St. John <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Mar 2004 12:58:51 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Mar 2004 06:10:38 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Mar 2004 10:30:16 -0500
Subject: 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

I've always thought that the real message of this 'translated' text is
in the fact that the 'translation' is printed on rectos and the thing
translated on versos.  If the 'translations' were really thought to be
merely supplements to the text the order would have been reversed.

William Proctor Williams

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 9 Mar 2004 10:54:18 -0500
Subject: 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

"But this means I don't have to think so hard about what the words mean"

Oh. Goody. Encouraging students not to think. What a plus. Fab. Can't
have them doing anything difficult. Heaven forfend.

Let's just make sure they never experience a sense of real achievement,
shall we?

Perhaps we can also pre-chew their food.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan St. John <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Mar 2004 12:58:51 -0700
Subject: 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

I am appalled by the idea of teaching Shakespeare's plays through modern
translations...

First I'd like to address my own experiences as a teacher of Shakespeare
and his language:

When my high school sophomore acting students read WT last year, it took
a long time because of the language (over two weeks just to read, not to
mention the related research assignments - we spent over a month on this
unit of study)...but when one of my students started making a list for
himself of all the synonyms for whore (and there are a LOT), I felt a
sense of accomplishment!  He was voluntarily helping himself expand his
vocabulary!

The class favorite was "hobbyhorse" which we all continue to use within
our class of juniors and seniors this year!  One of the girls was
violating the dress code and I told her she didn't need to dress like a
hobbyhorse...everyone knew exactly what I meant.  When we attended a
production of OTHELLO and they heard Iago use the term hobbyhorse, they
passed smiles and glances of shared recognition down the row.

It definitely takes more time for students to read and understand the
archaic language, but I have found that the rewards far outweigh the
bits of grumbling.  When students are preparing to perform scenes or
monologues I make them write their own contemporary translations, which
is an incredible exercise for them.  When my young Hermione realized for
herself what it meant to be "denied the marriage bed" she made great
strides in her delivery of the lines.

Second point - regarding the art of the theatre:

If a teacher wants students to learn the story and the characters, they
should just read a synopsis, or a storybook version.  I believe it does
a great disservice to the entire profession and art of playwrighting to
present simplified, modernized translations as 'theatre' rather than the
play that the playwright wrote.  Playwrights choose their words very
carefully to create mystery and secrets of the plot and characters that
the audience discovers as the actors bring it all to life on stage.

I don't believe any self-respecting teacher of literature would teach
poetry by using a modern vernacular that makes it 'easier to
understand.'  Teaching Shakespeare that way is then doubly wrong, since
it is both poetry AND theatre.

Third point - regarding 'poor readers';

In my experience here in the American Southwest, I find that ESL
students (mostly Mexicans who are learning English as a Second
Language), have no fear of reading Shakespeare.  Probably because they
are used to reading, hearing, and decifering English without knowing
half the words.

Teaching from these modern translations seems to me to be a reflection
on lazy teachers who don't want to do the work it takes or take the time
to teach the language and art of Shakespeare.  I suppose there is
something to be said for learning the plots and characters from these
famous works, but I find it a crying shame to miss out on the language
and the theatricality.  Please, just don't let these students believe
they have actually read Shakespeare, or experienced a well-written PLAY!

Sincerely,
Susan.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 2004 06:10:38 -0500
Subject: "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare
Comment:        SHK 15.0638 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

Even the most committed supporters of the 'Shakespeare Can Be Fun' books--

"Meanwhile King Claudius was still uptight.
The cause of Hamlet's madness had not come to light"

must bow to the superiority of the 'No Fear Shakespeare' volumes.
'Beware March 15!'  probes deftly and confidently to the heart.  Who can
be unmoved by the intellectual toughness beneath its slight lyric grace?
The judgement of one student--

"But this means I don't have to think so hard about what the words mean and
I can just relax and enjoy the story more,"

should wring critical withers. Surely it's clear that these books foster
exactly the sort of citizens our leaders are looking for.

Terence Hawkes

_______________________________________________________________
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.