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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: August ::
Timon of Athens
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1527  Friday, 13 August 2004

[1]     From:   Todd Gutmann <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 06:49:53 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1519 Timon of Athens

[2]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 10:50:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1519 Timon of Athens

[3]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 10:13:59 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1519 Timon of Athens

[4]     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 10:12:30 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1519 Timon of Athens


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Gutmann <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 06:49:53 -0700
Subject: 15.1519 Timon of Athens
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1519 Timon of Athens

I didn't see the context of Bob's original message, but his suggestion
doesn't seem outlandish to me. What makes the premise of Shakespeare
revising and improving through multiple drafts implausible? If the
suggestion is that the plays flowed more-or-less complete from his pen,
that--though not impossible--strikes me as less likely.

Todd

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 10:50:45 -0400
Subject: 15.1519 Timon of Athens
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1519 Timon of Athens

 >Bob G. writes: "The reason Timon seems unfinished to me--a first draft,
 >to be accurate--is simply that it's a terrible play...."
 >
 >The premise that Shakespeare's method of working was to write a bad play
 >first and add poetry, complexity, and a good plot in later drafts should
 >maybe be thought through again.
 >
 >Alan

Sorry, Alan, but it makes sense to me.  I've written a bunch of
(unproduced) plays myself, and my first drafts have often been horrible.
  Later drafts get much better albeit not very good, apparently.  Of
course, one doesn't add "poetry, complexity, and a good plot in later
drafts," one expands upon the good that is (too) slightly in the first
draft while eliminating the bad, and corrects the sometimes easily
corrected very bad.  For instance.  one could have an initial plot as
stilted and over-overt as TIMON's in a first draft, then suddenly see a
way to bring in a complicating plot twist--a love-interest, say--that
brings it to life.

Ditto with the poetry I've composed and the essays I've written that
actually got into print.

Sometimes, one junks a play after the first draft as irredeemably bad,
as I feel Shakespeare may have here.

--Bob G.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 10:13:59 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.1519 Timon of Athens
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1519 Timon of Athens

Let others judge for themselves, but I would suggest that the current
staging of Timon in Stratford, ON defies its labeling as a terrible
play. It is undoubtedly better than their Macbeth. This reminds me of
those who have said on this list that Titus is the best film adaptation
of a Shakespeare play. I don't know anyone who considers Titus his best
play, but if it and Timon perform well, they could bear some reassessment.

Jack Heller

 >Bob G. writes: "The reason Timon seems unfinished to me--a first draft,
 >to be accurate--is simply that it's a terrible play...."
 >
 >The premise that Shakespeare's method of working was to write a bad play
 >first and add poetry, complexity, and a good plot in later drafts should
 >maybe be thought through again.
 >
 >Alan

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 10:12:30 -0800
Subject: 15.1519 Timon of Athens
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1519 Timon of Athens

As a long defender of Timon of Athens (the play not the man), I finally
got a chance to put my money where my mouth is and include it in a
syllabus for a four week elective course called "Love and Money in
Shakespeare" (in which I paired it with "The Merchant of Venice"). At
first, of course, students were very skeptical about it, but I showed
the film and also required them to do in-class presentations on some of
the criticism/scholarship of the play (and yes some critics actually
like the play), and we ended up having some great discussions,
especially once students started being able to compare and contrast it
to Merchant, and see how many of the same issues are treated in the
play.  Some students wrote some amazing papers, and while I'm not in a
big rush to teach the play again, I'm glad I did it.

Yes, the play lacks much of what people have come to expect from a
Shakespeare play, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's unfinished or
terrible. If you put it alongside of Brecht, is it really that bad?

Chris

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