The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1444  Tuesday, 28 May 2002

From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 27 May 2002 16:21:40 -0400
Subject: 13.1401 Re: Conspicuous Silence
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1401 Re: Conspicuous Silence

> Though it has some
> explanatory power, such an argument begs questions: why write an ending
> that silences a(n apparently) major character to give the stage to a(n
> apparently) minor figure? what does such a decision reveal about the
> play, the theater, the audience, the company? what are performers to do
> with this silent elephant?  Is anyone aware of performance studies that
> address this issue?
> Regards,
> Christopher Fassler
> University of Uta

"--if I do not know something, Cavell says, that implies a blank spot of
ignorance; there's something missing in the body of my knowledge. But if
I fail or refuse to acknowledge something, the point is that almost the
opposite situation pertains: "A 'failure to acknowledge' is the presence
of something, a confusion, an indifference, a callousness, an
exhaustion, a coldness." Cavell most powerfully aligns this second
failure, this acknowledgment-gap, when (like Berger) he shows that, in
Lear and elsewhere, characters refuse or fail to reveal themselves to
others, and in that masking gesture fail to 'acknowledge others.'"


"This emphasis on discourse involves a problematic notion of
Shakespearean drama in general, which it is Berger's purpose to develop
in the light of his apparent distaste for performance-centered
criticism, and against which he counterposes a strongly text-centered

From Angus Fletcher's review of `Making Trifles of Terrors:
Redistributing Complicities in Shakespeare,' by Harry Berger, Jr.
Shakespeare Studies, 1999, Vol. 27, p37, 5p

For more performance based commentary:

Kermode, Frank. "Shakespeare's Silences." Takada, Surprised by Scenes
[F]: 16-26. [Considers the proverbial background and dramaturgical and
rhetorical uses of silence in Shakespeare's plays.]

Clifford Stetner

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