Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Just My Imagination
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0496  Friday, 3 August 2007

[1] 	From: 		Jack Heller <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 		Thursday, 2 Aug 2007 10:56:02 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0490 Just My Imagination

[2] 	From: 		Chris Whatmore <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 		Thursday, 2 Aug 2007 23:51:06 +0100
	Subj: 		Re: It Was Just My Imagination - Running Away with Me


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jack Heller <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Thursday, 2 Aug 2007 10:56:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 18.0490 Just My Imagination
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0490 Just My Imagination

This phenomenon seems more common in Spenser than in Shakespeare. But 
surely, from Shakespeare, we'd have to include Macbeth in Act 1, scene iii:

Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man that function
Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not.

MACBETH as a whole would be appropriate for this line of inquiry.

Jack Heller

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Chris Whatmore <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Thursday, 2 Aug 2007 23:51:06 +0100
Subject: 	Re: It Was Just My Imagination - Running Away with Me

Mike Shapiro wrote:

 >Can anyone identify other
 >WS related examples where someone's imaginative powers needs be
 >constrained?  Also, has this angle been previously been covered by other
 >listserv members?

Falstaff must be the prime example - a character of such monstrous 
imagining that in order to 'constrain' him after his first appearance, 
his creator had to humiliate him publicly in two separate  sequels and 
kill him off in a third before he could get back on  stage. Not 
realising, as we do, that Falstaff is a mere textual construct, he even 
took the precaution of firing the actor who played him.

Meta-theatrics aside, the idea of imaginative creations 'running away 
with themselves' and having to be reined in, or even gagged, by their 
authors feels like fairly familiar territory, especially where WS in 
concerned. Only recently, in *Shakespeare: The Biography*, Peter Ackroyd 
has imagined his subject "astounded and terrified" by his own creative 
powers, as scenes arise unexpectedly or characters emerge unbidden "to 
steal the best lines". Falstaff is certainly the model here, but 
Mercutio (Mike Shapiro's example), Shylock and the shrewish Kate would 
also fit the bill.

Similarly, in *Shakespeare The Thinker*, A.D. Nuttall  paints a  picture 
of a playwright paradoxically moved by a "fear of verbal  dexterity as 
an impediment to truth", in response to which he would often use shock 
tactics to save certain characters from losing their way in the fog of 
their own wit. The examples so far (I'm less than halfway through the 
book) include the silencing of Berowne and friends with the announcement 
of the King of France's death in Love's Labours Lost, and the final 
conversion of Beatrice and Benedick's high voltage verbosity into 
meaningful communication during the denunciation scene in Much Ado.

These all seem to be valid examples of individual imaginative power in 
need of restraint. Trouble is, I'm not sure where it gets us.  Isn't it 
just another way of saying the WS was a brilliant playwright whose 
creations give the illusion of independent life? Perhaps I've 
misunderstood the question and Mike S has a more specific field of 
enquiry in mind.

cw

_______________________________________________________________
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.