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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: May ::
Film about Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI/I
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0996  Monday, 3 May 2004

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Apr 2004 09:20:27 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0987 Film about Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI/I

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Apr 2004 13:25:38 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0987 Film about Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI/I


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Apr 2004 09:20:27 -0500
Subject: 15.0987 Film about Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI/I
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0987 Film about Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI/I

David Lindley quotes my assertion

 >But if you do allow for relative degrees of truth, and if you
 >care about the telling of the truth, then a consciousness of
 >facts, and a devotion to them, is very important.

and complains

 >"So it's OK then, for Shakespeare to fiddle with Greene's Pandosto and
 >make the Queen live (because he's adapting a fiction), but not for him
 >to fiddle the age of Hotspur to make him an exact parallel with Hal
 >(because he's adapting an historical chronicle)?"

No. It's because he lived before the development of analytical history.
  The sources he worked from "played fast and loose" and no one cared,
including the IB.

We now have a field of historical research and we expect its
practitioners to follow certain methods to obtain the facts as best they
can. And we trust them because we are reasonably certain that while they
may be wrong, they won't simply lie.

A personal anecdote. Many years ago when I was working for a newspaper,
a friend of the editorial page editor wrote a book which he claimed was
a factual account of how a reclusive billionaire was able to get himself
cloned. The author averred that the work was not fiction and made a big
to-do about it, and the editor in question went along with him "for the
fun of it." The rest of us did not find it funny. To us this guy was a
fake who was trying to use the news media, and our paper especially,
simply to improve his chances of making big bucks. If there had been any
truth to the story, it would have been news, and we would have gladly
reported it. But the author was very coy about facts-as you might well
expect-and so we concluded that it was simply a publicity stunt.

Professions that expect or hope to be trusted-law, medicine,
scholarship, journalism, teaching-have to establish ethical standards
and abide by them. Otherwise they won't be trusted. Hacks and quacks and
con-artists then come along and try to take advantage of that hard-won
trust by pretending to be part of the ethical association.

But there is no point in accusing Shakespeare of doing so when the
association did not yet exist.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Apr 2004 13:25:38 -0700
Subject: 15.0987 Film about Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI/I
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0987 Film about Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI/I

Richard Burt's dismissal is rather odd.  Surely questions of truth and
history are far larger than the publications of a few of his favourite
critics and historians, though it's nice of him to provide a list.
Levinas introduces one of his essays by declaring that philosophy deals
with truth, for instance, and Richard's list also omits Gadamer's "The
Truth of the Work of Art".

In any case, someone who refuses to discuss or listen to any explanation
about what "relative degrees of truth are or how they would provide
criteria for filmmakers for historians" seems to exclude himself from
dialogue on the subject far more fully and purposefully than someone who
hasn't seen the film in question or hasn't read (say) Vivian Sobchack.

Yours,
Sean Lawrence.

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