The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2609  Thursday, 15 November 2001

From:           David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Nov 2001 16:41:59 -0500
Subject: 12.2599 Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2599 Re: Does Goneril Commit Suicide?

The tired, drunken, illiterate spectator standing at the back, unable to
see or hear what's going on, would indeed, as Bill Godshalk says, have
an excuse for believing, mistakenly, that Regan killed Goneril. A
critic, however, presumably does not have such an excuse.

The scenario of the impercipient spectator calls attention to something
I should perhaps have made clearer, about the distinction between
reading and viewing. M. Yawney probably meant something similar. When we
talk about the experience of reading and viewing, and how we experience
each, we may use the critical "we". It could also be called the
"argumentative 'we'" or the "ideal 'we'". We, the critics, are talking
about what we, the readers or spectators experience as an ideally
attentive and attuned audience. We are trying to approach that ideal,
though of course like all ideals it is not absolutely attainable.

Yawney's point, I think, was that a play, written to be performed, would
not rely, as much as a novel might, on extremely delicate and subtle
hints which could not practically be apprehended in the onrush of
action, even by that attentive and attuned audience. The fact that in
practice some members of the audience, or some critics--or even we
ourselves--sometimes don't get it does not, we hope, permanently
discourage us from pursuing the ideal through reasoned argument and
discussion; it's what spurs us on.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

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