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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
"Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0727  Friday, 19 March 2004

[1]     From:   Dan Smith <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 14:03:34 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0712 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Norman Hinton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 10:54:46 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0720 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Smith <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 14:03:34 -0000
Subject: 15.0712 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0712 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

Don Bloom wrote:

 >powerful, resonant language, witty turns
 >of phrase, illuminating comparisons, ironies, sound repetitions, and so
 >forth, that are (if you like that sort of thing) a pure joy to savor

This reminds me of the controversy surrounding the introduction of the
Good News Bible. I have no idea whether the original biblical texts were
full of poetry but the King James certainly does. The Good News was keen
to remove any language that might be confusing and in consequence
produced plodding civil service prose that it was my misfortune to study
at school.

e.g. Psalms 5:9

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is very
wickedness; Their throat is an open sepulchre; They flatter with their
tongue.

Becomes

What my enemies say can never be trusted;
they only want to destroy;
Their words are flattering and smooth,
but full of deadly deceit.

It would seem to me to be impossible to generate any passion about a
text, biblical or otherwise, that didn't include poetry according to Don
Blooms definition. However, I don't think I object to a running
paraphrase in a text as a teaching tool. The problem comes when that
paraphrase is used as a replacement for the text when performed. A good
teacher could use the small beer of a running paraphrase for a first
reading to give an introduction to the text which includes "much of the
plot and some of the Characterization" and then wean students onto the
hard intoxicating stuff - the poetry. There is always a risk in whatever
strategy you employ - the risk in using a paraphrase is that you reduce
the need for the students to make an effort to understand the language -
you don't expect enough of them. The risk without is surely that they
just give up trying to understand any of it - you expect too much.
Hence when used as a bridge to the 'real' text it is an asset that the
running paraphrase is bad. It would be more problematic if poets were
used to write translations akin to Seamus Heaney's Beowulf. Such
translations might be necessary (and successful) in a few centuries.

Dan Smith

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman Hinton <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 10:54:46 -0600
Subject: 15.0720 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0720 "Beware March 15!" but No Fear Shakespeare

Teaching a work in translation is a sort of desperate attempt to give
students some rough equivalent of a work in another language.  I don't
do that with Chaucer -- in fact, I tell my students that there are no
good translations and that I will not accept translations of Chaucer as
quotes in papers they write.

If that works (and it has worked for almost 30 years) for Chaucer, why
translate Shakespeare?  If they can't be bothered to read the notes at
the bottom of the page, they can just flunk or drop.

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