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Home :: Archive :: 2011 :: December ::
Bernice W. Kliman

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0316  Thursday, 1 December 2011

 

[1] From:         Mike Jensen < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         Wednesday, 30 Nov 2011 15:26:23 -0800

     Subject:      Bernice W. Kliman 

 

[2] From:         Nicholas Clary < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         December 1, 2011 2:27:59 PM EST

     Subject:      Bernice W. Kliman

 

[3] From:         Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         Thursday, December 1, 2011        

     Subject:      Bernice W. Kliman 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Mike Jensen < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         Wednesday, 30 Nov 2011 15:26:23 -0800

Subject:      Bernice W. Kliman

 

It is an irony of life, and yes, of death, that the people we love may be ready to go but we are not ready to let go of them. When Bernice W. Kliman went into hospice care Monday night, she told the enrolling nurse that she was ready to go, and after a couple of years of sometimes acute pain, the sooner the better. It broke my heart when I read her husband Merwin’s message about this. Bernice got her wish and passed away at 6:30 the next morning. Selfish as I am, I am not ready to let Bernice go.

 

We got to know one another when I lucked into an opportunity to interview Mel Gibson about his Hamlet film, and thought that the Shakespeare on Film Newsletter (SFNL), which Bernice co-founded and co-edited with Kenneth S. Rothwell, would be a good home for it. They both liked the piece, and it became both my first scholarly publication and my first cover article. Her comments about the Gibson interview made it better. Bernice saw potential in me that I was struggling to find some direction for, and nudged me towards doing more Shakespeare film writing. In those mail-by-post days, there was far more involved in encouraging me than there is now that we toss off a dozen e-mails each day. This was labor intensive encouragement. I don’t think that I followed any of the suggestions for new articles that she made, she wanted to read them more than I wanted to write them, but it helps tremendously if someone believes in you when you do not quite believe in yourself. I ended up in Shakespeare and popular culture more generally because I do not like the judgmental direction that so much Shakespeare film scholarship took, but it was the start I needed. Lesson learned #1: There was a place in the scholarly world for a grad school drop-out like me.

 

It was shortly after this that Bernice and Ken Rothwell merged SFNL into Shakespeare Bulletin and moved in other directions. Ken went into different work with Shakespeare films and Bernice turned herself into one of our foremost Hamlet experts. She is perhaps best known for her work on the texts, with such publications as The Enfolded Hamlet which allowed readers to study Q1, Q2, and F at the same time, published as a special issue of The Shakespeare Newsletter (SNL) in 1996, and now available on the web: http://leoyan.com/global-language.com/ENFOLDED/. This was preceded by the divine Three-Text Hamlet, edited with Paul Bertram, which printed parallel passages of the three versions in three columns with an extra column for Q1 transpositions (AMS Inc., 1991). Bernice had AMS send a copy of the 2003 revised edition to me when it was published, meaning there is no autograph, alas. In 2008 Bernice and James H. Lake co-edited the Hamlet volume in the New Kitteredge Shakespeare editions, about which there is a bit more below. Prior to these came Hamlet: Film, Television, and Audio Performance (Farleigh Dickinson University Press,1988), a truly innovative but under-known book that studies these forms of electronic Hamlets, and finds their unities and diversities. Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare’s Hamlet was edited as part of the MLA “Approaches” series in 2001. It features 57 essays by teaching scholars about facets of the play that they try to bring out in the classroom and practical advice for getting the play across.  Now it can be told that the thanks I receive on page xiv was entirely undeserved. It was for a contribution that Bernice made to another publication. I knew the subject better than she, so she asked me to comment on what she had written, which I was glad to do. She ended up using a few of my sentences paraphrased in her entry. It was not appropriate or even possible to thank me there, so Bernice snuck it in here. The lesson learned #2: pay your scholarly debts one way or another.

 

There are three books that are unrelated to Hamlet. The New Kitteredge Shakespeare edition of Romeo and Juliet, like the Hamlet edition, was co-edited by James H. Lake and released in 2008. I am not a big fan of these editions, but there are certainly things to like about them, such as the filmographies in the back. I also like the timelines that Bernice created for both Hamlet and this book, but which are not typical of the series. Studying them convinced me that timelines and their problems ought to become standard features of all editions of Shakespeare. Macbeth was written for the “Shakespeare in Performance” series (1992, revised 2004). It is a superb stroll through past productions from Davenant through Ron Daniels’s in 1999. Television and film figure prominently, of course. A surprise to some will be Latin American Shakespeares edited with Rick J. Santos, a colleague of Bernice’s from Nassau Community College (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005). This is a collection of essays examining most aspects of Shakespeare reception and production south of the border. Lesson learned #3: get out of your comfort zone. Find something worth doing and do it.

 

I several times asked Bernice to be a guest in my “Talking Books” column in Shakespeare Newsletter. She several times declined, because Bernice figured out just how much work it really is to do the column well. The last time I even used as incentive the opportunity to publicize what may prove to be her greatest and most lasting achievement, hamletworks.org. Bernice managed to get SNL to feature it in another way shortly after. Hamletworks is the innovative, indispensible, one-stop-shopping resource for all things Hamlet, and I do mean all things. Information on films, an article archive, texts, well, you name it and you are likely to find it or a link to it on hamletworks. I told Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch about the site as he prepared to direct their 2010 Hamlet in late 2009. Bill’s e-mail response: “This is thrilling.” All who read this should bookmark this amazing resource now. I owe Bernice an article about Hamlet comics for the site, which I promised to get to “next year” for the past four years. Lesson learned #4.

 

Hamletworks grew out of a big and still unfinished project, the New Variorum Hamlet, for which Bernice served as the lead editor for many years. Her intention was to create a standard variorum text to the specifications of the series, and put that and everything that could not be included in the book onto the true variorum, hamletworks. Bernice had to withdraw from the Variorum a couple of years ago because of her health problems, but she still tinkered away at hamletworks. You can read more about this work in her article “Print and Electronic Editions Inspired by the New Variorum Hamlet Project,” published in Shakespeare Survey 59 (Cambridge University Press, 2006). Lesson learned #5: books are great, but the world is changing. Keep up so that scholarship can reach its new potential.

 

We can still look forward to a review essay on a Hamlet production in Shakespeare Survey 64 (Cambridge University Press), a chapter on Measure for Measure in Who Hears in Shakespeare?: Shakespeare's Auditory World, Stage and Screen, edited by Bernice’s friend Laury Magnus and Walter W. Cannon (Farleigh Dickinson University Press), both books due to be released at any second. There is also an article on Macbeth, co-written with Magnus, that will probably be published next year. I’m sure there is a New Kitteredge Measure for Measure edition edited with Dr. Magnus forthcoming, but a Google searchfailed to confirm my memory of this. Lesson already known: these will be nice, I can’t wait, but they are not enough.

 

Bernice was given a great compliment a couple of years ago. I found that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are in Olivier’s film version of Hamlet (1948) after all, at least sort of, despite the many denials by Olivier, adaptor Alan Dent, Olivier biographers, and Shakespeare film scholars. There are two silent characters that correspond to them at a key moment, but we have not recognized them because they have no lines. I wrote a note quoting some of the people, including Bernice, who have said that R&G are not in the film and then demonstrated the correspondence of R&G to these characters. While there is no reason for Bernice or anybody who have written about these missing characters to be embarrassed by my discovery, still I wrote to ask Bernice if she preferred that I quote someone else. I sent a draft of the note with that question. She asked me to keep her quote because of her disappointment that her Shakespeare film work is largely un-cited today and hoped that colleagues would be reminded of it. She did not mind the implication that she was partially mistaken. She also suggested that I rethink the way that I worded my ending, and she was quite right. Doug Lanier was also encouraging about the draft I sent to him, and told me how to get screen captures from a DVD, which were essential to the note. I, of course, thanked both in the first endnote.

 

I sent the piece to Literature/Film Quarterly, which rejected it. This is fine in principle, but the reader was an idiot.  The dumbest reason that s/he rejected publication was my “name dropping,” when I thanked Doug and Bernice. We know from lesson learned #2 that you always pay your scholarly debts. The note was published in the last issue Borrowers and Lenders, so no permanent damage was done.

 

What is the compliment that I mentioned? It is the assumption that Bernice W. Kliman’s is a name worth dropping. I am proud to have known her, worked with her, learned from her, to have stayed with Bernice and Merwin when we visited the East Coast, cooked with her, walked with her, shopped with her, and I shall be dropping her name for the rest of my life. Bernice Kliman is gone, but I am not nearly ready to let her go.
 

All the best, 

Mike Jensen
author site: www.michaelpjensen.com

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Nicholas Clary < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         December 1, 2011 2:27:59 PM EST

Subject:      Bernice W. Kliman

 

I was deeply saddened to learn of Bernice’s passing.  She had been keeping a blog for several months, ever since her battle with cancer had nearly immobilized her completely. All the while she remained positive about her condition, despite the pain and the relentless testing and treatment.  She worked on her scholarship, met with her reading/writing group, and brought everyone close to her even closer still.  Merwin would sometimes take over the blogging when Bernice was unable to do it. The two of them were models of patience and mutual affection.  Many days I was uplifted by a photograph posted on her blog, by an email about our shared editing work and our warm relationship.  Bernice was a very special person indeed.  She was a scholar, a lover of family and friends, and person with a heart as big as the sun.  As a Shakespearean, she was the real deal.  As a woman of courage and kindness, she was rare indeed.  She will be dearly missed by all who have come to know and love her. 

 

Nick Clary

Professor, Department of English

Coordinator of the Honors Program

 

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From:         Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         Thursday, December 1, 2011        

Subject:      Bernice W. Kliman 

 

I too was deeply saddened to learn of Bernice’s death.

 

As with all who knew her, I loved her. She was a wonderful woman and scholar, whose example has been an inspiration to me.

 

Before we met, Bernice favorably reviewed a pivotal essay of mine, the central theory of my dissertation. I will be ever grateful. 

 

Over the years, we got to know each other, meeting at conferences and inevitably having a meal together or with others, frequently the members of the Hamlet Variorum team. One memory I have is the time that she, John Andrews, Michael Warren, Ted Wright, my family, and I stayed at the same guesthouse in Stratford for the International Conference. Our breakfast discussions of the previous evening’s RSC performances were stimulating. To everyone else’s credit, my daughters were included in those conversations.

 

Mike covered the scholarly achievements for which Bernice will be remembered, but, in addition, I will always remember her wonderful multicolored stockings.

 

Hardy

 
 

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