The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0140  Friday, 21 January 2000.

From:           C. David Frankel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 2000 13:58:13 -0500
Subject: 11.0112 Re: Shakespeare in the Bush
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.0112 Re: Shakespeare in the Bush

Mike Jensen says:

>I am curious about C. David Frankel's post, [cut]
>[Regarding Bohannen]As I recall, she recounts her telling the Hamlet plot
>to some
>West Africans.  They point out how ridiculous it is because ghosts don't
>behave that way, Hamlet expected Gertrude to mourn too long before
>remarrying, etc.

>I don't recall Bohannan's conclusions.  I remember her just telling the
>story to show cultural differences, but that may be the fault of my
>middle-aged memory.  C. David, would you mind reminding us what those
>conclusions were?  That may make any answers to your post easier to

It's been a while since I read the article, but I think Mike's summary
is to the point:  that is, Bohannan takes the Tiv's reaction to her
telling of the story of Hamlet as a counterindication of Shakespeare's
universality.  What she doesn't do, however, is critique her own telling
of the story (and her, I think, naive reduction of the play-especially
as a performance-to an oral narrative) or acknowledge that many of the
Tiv's objections (or variations of them-regarding ghost behavior, for
example) might also be made by other groups (even Euro-American ones)
without detracting from their understanding or enjoyment (or some other
response) to the play.  I'm not interested, by the way, in trying to
show that Shakespeare is or isn't universal.   Rather, I'm interested in
how this particular article became "canonical" in literary,
communication, and anthropological studies.


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