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*TC*, Genre, Satire
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 149. Friday, 31 May 1991.
 
(1)	Date: 	Thu, 30 May 1991 21:57:49 -0400
	From: 	Roy Flannagan <FLANNAGA@OUACCVMB.BITNET>
	Subj: 	Thersites in the (south?) Bronx
 
(2)	Date: 	Thu, 30 May 1991 23:37:04 -0400
	From: 	Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
 
(3)	Date: 	Fri, 31 May 1991 00:17:12 -0400
	From: 	Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
 
(4)	Date: 	Fri, 31 May 1991 03:38:00 -0400
	From: 	"George Mosley" <MOSLEY@UNC.BITNET>
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
 
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Thu, 30 May 1991 21:57:49 -0400
From: 		Roy Flannagan <FLANNAGA@OUACCVMB.BITNET>
Subject: 	Thersites in the (south?) Bronx
 
Steve: We've got to call the play *something*, and I guess your favorite
word is satire?  The genre confusion is worth more than a chuckle,
because to me it looks as if Shakespeare is throwing a screwyou to
conventions of plot, character, national ideals, patriotism, politics,
as well as genre.  Thersites is like a crack-dealer in a street-war
because he is nihilistic, not necessarily because he satirizes
something.  What is there left in the play to satirize, what is left
un-made-fun-of?  And is it fun that is made of it, or is the play
designed to be unfunny satire?  Thesites is still deflating at full
steam at his parting from the play, and Pandarus, apparently dying,
leaves us only his diseases.
 
Also, the play doesn't work very well as a drama until the voyeur scene
with Troilus and Ulysses peeking at Cressida and Diomedes while
Thersites peeps at them.  Only then did my bright class perk up and take
interest.  Before then, the play does not work all that well as drama.
Even the production I saw in Stratford (Ontario) several years ago, with
Patroclus in a bikini, Ajax in a jakes, English colonials playing Greeks
and Indians of the Raj playing Troyans, plus Myrmidons as Hell's Angels,
could excite the audience for much of the play.  Where is the play
getting its satiric energy, Steve?  And how are you making it work on
stage?
						Roy Flannagan
 
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Thu, 30 May 1991 23:37:04 -0400
From: 		Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
Subject: 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
Comment:      	Re: SHK 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
 
Hmmm.  Satire and the specificities of the objects satirized . . . Sure,
it is wonderful to be able to recognize who may be targeted, but after a
while does it really matter that the Dowager Duchess of Upswitch really
had buck teeth if one really wants to laugh at the satiric literary event?
Pope switched dunces from Dunciad Mark I to Dunciad Mark II.  And the
weird jugglings of Hot Potato Oldcastle makes one wonder if he's any
funnier under that name than under the Falstaff escutcheon (I wonder
what will happen when the OUP name-change gets tried out onstage or in
a classroom).  Insider jokes with only local recognition may or may not
still be funny to outsiders a few weeks or centuries later, but happily
a lot of the venomous bite that we pour into our satires turns into more
innocent nibbles and laughter.  I guess I should explain that I first
learned to read Juvenal and Swift from John R. Clark (see his -Form and
Frenzy in Tale of a Tub-), and then was deeply discouraged from going on
in the field when I met up with Ned Rosenheim as my next guide through
its explosive possibilities.
 
Query: Does anyone else see a connection, an imitation of form, between
Astrophil and Stella, that train-wreck of a love affair, and Troilus and
Cressida?  "And they lived happily never after."   How much does it help
and how much does it destroy our sense of the literary plot of the sonnet
sequence when we trace the world of Penelope Rich and bright Sir Philip?
I guess we are best off seeing history and literary invention inextricable,
like ourselves, and fashioned.
 
       Cordially, at the end of a torrid May, Steve Urkowitz (SURCC@CUNYVM)
 
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Fri, 31 May 1991 00:17:12 -0400
From: 		Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
Subject: 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
Comment:      	Re: SHK 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
 
Dear Kay Stockholder,
 
      I guess I begin drifting as soon as I hear that "by definition"
satire refers to a world outside itself.  I think, "So then does tragedy,
or even farce," and I grow all fuzzy now so late at night.  Here's a case:
I imagine that one of the antecedents of Troilus and Cressida is _Astrophil
and Stella_. They both plot the disastrous trainwrecks of idealized
fetishistic romance.  Now, we have all that juicy reference in A&S to
the world beyond.  Penelope Rich's itches, Sir Philip's frenzies.  But
Astrophil's fiction lives independent of Sir Phil's.  And the reference,
I think, that we should be getting is not to the biography of that courtier
but rather to the fate of fetishized amor, a human disaster that struck
Homer's suitors of his Penelope as well as Sir P's Astrophil.  I would
suggest that there are dimensions of specific invective chopping at Joe
Blow's wickedness AND formal literary shapes (as Northrop Frye, he should
rest in peace, showed us).  We can laugh along either of these dimensions,
or both.  But if we look only at the invective and its targets, most satire
just ain't gonna be very funny, like old news.  Doesn't _Dr.Strangelove_
still work even for viewers who don't know the political references of the
period?  Does T&C work with people who never watched the newsreels of the
latest skirmishes at Troy?
 
Oooh, it's getting later, the night is hot, fuzz grows apace.
 
						Warmly,
 
						Steve Urkowitz
						<SURCC@CUNYVM>
						
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------------
						
Date: 		Fri, 31 May 1991 03:38:00 -0400
From: 		"George Mosley" <MOSLEY@UNC.BITNET>
Subject: 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
Comment: 	Re: SHK 2.0147  Troilus & Cressida, Genre
 
Regarding satiric reference:
 
Satire, particularly parodic satire, presents trouble because it so
intimately involves questions of intentionality.  To label a thing
"satiric" or "parodic" instead of "failed" implies a knowledge of what
the author meant to say.  Thus, in post-structuralist terms the work
seems to be contradictory on purpose, to repeat what it condemns.
For the old New Critics, the matter of authorial intent drives them
crazy.  For many of the naive reader-response critics, the presence of
unsophisticated readers who are "fooled" by the satire presents trouble.
 
Not only is reference unstable, satire always involves a community
of "right" opinions which can operate in opposition to the text.  This,
at any rate, is what I've observed in critics trying to cope with
"problem" satire (in Booth's term, 'unstable irony').
 
						George Mosley
						<Mosley@unc.bitnet>
 

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