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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Jahoclave » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:16 pm UTC

kcr wrote:
PAstrychef wrote:But the best story of interpreting the Bard is Shakespeare in the Bush, which you can find here. It shows just how cross cultural Hamlet is, or isn't.


I read this for a class and found it very interesting. The professor used it as "proof" to support her case that works don't always translate across cultures, and how traditional forms of theatre in many places aren't what Western culture thinks of as theatre... etc etc. Interesting lecture but I didn't agree with how she interpreted this story (ironically enough). The narrator is trying to describe the events of the play, and I agree, it's really funny and it's telling and reveals a lot about our different cultures blah blah blah. But what the narrator doesn't do is talk about the theme. Shakespeare was making a point: that basically, revenge sucks. Revenge is something everyone can understand. In this instance, the narrator wasn't trying to talk about revenge. I'd be curious to see how that would have turned out.... would they have understood the story more, thought it was less frivolous?

That probably would have translated out better. Still, Shakespeare's way of getting across that theme doesn't translate into their cultural values; which, I think is an important part to realize. The work has to get across the theme and the work doesn't resonate with their culture even if the theme would. And they certainly wouldn't understand about why a bypass has got to be built.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:47 am UTC

Necroing this because I want to talk about Romeo and Juliet, and the Macbeth thread isn't the place to do it-
Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has R&J running at the moment, and a very nice production it is. They really get the 13 year old view point and mood swings, and the fighting amongst the young bravos.
My question is this-the marriage is kept secret by Father Lawrence, so Juliet is promised to Paris, which leads to the hopelessly over-complicated method of reuniting her with Romeo. Would having the marriage announced have made any difference to the end of the play? Would Mercutio still have it in for Romeo if they were brothers in law?
Also-given that Romeo is under twenty and has been involved in three murders in lees than a month, do you think he's safe to hang around?
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby animeHrmIne » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:11 am UTC

Tybalt, not Mercutio. Mercutio is the Prince's relative and Romeo's friend. Tybalt hates Romeo, Mercutio taunts Tybalt, Tybalt accidentally kills Mercutio, Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished.

What with the huge feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, I think it could have been worse if the marriage had been announced. Remember the balcony scene, where Juliet says that if her family sees Romeo they'll kill him? Multiply that. All of the Montagues will be covertly trying to kill Juliet or make them annul the marriage or make her infertile so that after Juliet dies Romeo can forget his folly and have a proper wife with no heirs in the way. The Capulets will be doing the same. Sooner or later, one of them will have succeeded, and the other family will either have strong suspicions or proof. And if the fighting was bad before someone had killed the heirs, think of how much worse it would be. There'd probably be war that would split Verona in half and leave many dead.

But remember, I'm only a High School Junior with an active imagination.
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:44 pm UTC

Yeah, I do tend to get those two mixed up. And being in High School is fine-the whole thing is basically about people that age.
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Euphonium » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:53 pm UTC

Shakespeare was a talentless hack who is impossible to take seriously.

In Shakespeare's time, England was on the rise, soon to become the most powerful single force in the world. The melodrama that so permeates Shakespeare's work is laughably absurd coming from his pen: there's no justification for it, either from his own life or from within the state of the world at the time. It's insincere and cheap, and its artistic merit ranks somewhere between Twilight and Goosebumps.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:44 pm UTC

So, uh. You're only allowed to write about bad things happening to people if bad things happen to you?
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Euphonium » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:51 pm UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:So, uh. You're only allowed to write about bad things happening to people if bad things happen to you?


How else can you create sincere, informed picture of it? Remember, the point of good literature is not merely to say what happened, but to study how what happened affects the characters: how they feel, how they react externally, how they respond internally.

This is why Dostoevsky is believable: his life was pretty screwy. That's not really the case with Shakespeare.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Aiwendil42 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:23 pm UTC

How else can you create sincere, informed picture of it? Remember, the point of good literature is not merely to say what happened, but to study how what happened affects the characters: how they feel, how they react externally, how they respond internally.


How fortunate that the Gods of Art have revealed the One True Criterion for good literature to you.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:37 pm UTC

Euphonium wrote:Shakespeare was a talentless hack who is impossible to take seriously.
In Shakespeare's time, England was on the rise, soon to become the most powerful single force in the world. The melodrama that so permeates Shakespeare's work is laughably absurd coming from his pen: there's no justification for it, either from his own life or from within the state of the world at the time. It's insincere and cheap, and its artistic merit ranks somewhere between Twilight and Goosebumps.

So do you really think that people will be reading Stephanie Meyers in 400 years, having exhaustively examined every line of dialog and set of circumstances, the internal motivations of the characters, etc., etc.? Shakespeare has been continuously in production somewhere in the English speaking world since the plays were written. There were dozens of playwrights in the period and we best know two-Marlowe and Shakespeare. If Marlowe had lived a somewhat quieter life and not been killed at 29 he might have out-written Shakespeare.
But some how 400 years worth of readers have still found something to admire in Shakespeare-perhaps your callow youth just has to grow into it.
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Euphonium » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:47 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:
Euphonium wrote:Shakespeare was a talentless hack who is impossible to take seriously.
In Shakespeare's time, England was on the rise, soon to become the most powerful single force in the world. The melodrama that so permeates Shakespeare's work is laughably absurd coming from his pen: there's no justification for it, either from his own life or from within the state of the world at the time. It's insincere and cheap, and its artistic merit ranks somewhere between Twilight and Goosebumps.

So do you really think that people will be reading Stephanie Meyers in 400 years, having exhaustively examined every line of dialog and set of circumstances, the internal motivations of the characters, etc., etc.?

Depends on how talented her legions of fangirls (and boys) are at creating a mythology around her that bears no relation to the actual artistic merit of her works (which is, of course, zero).

Shakespeare has been continuously in production somewhere in the English speaking world since the plays were written. There were dozens of playwrights in the period and we best know two-Marlowe and Shakespeare. If Marlowe had lived a somewhat quieter life and not been killed at 29 he might have out-written Shakespeare.
But some how 400 years worth of readers have still found something to admire in Shakespeare-perhaps your callow youth just has to grow into it.


And the Emperor has new clothes...he must, because everybody says so!

They're latching on to something that really isn't there, based on a mythology created centuries ago by a few fanboys that has absolutely no relationship whatsoever to the actual artistic merit of his work.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby GraphiteGirl » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:34 am UTC

Euphonium wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:So, uh. You're only allowed to write about bad things happening to people if bad things happen to you?


How else can you create sincere, informed picture of it? Remember, the point of good literature is not merely to say what happened, but to study how what happened affects the characters: how they feel, how they react externally, how they respond internally.

This is why Dostoevsky is believable: his life was pretty screwy. That's not really the case with Shakespeare.

Obviously, it's completely impossible to empathise with other people who suffer unless you yourself have had a life of unbridled suffering. And it's not as though Shakespeare ever suffered the loss of dearly beloved immediate family or anything, which informed his work, ohh no. [/sarcasm]
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Patch » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:51 pm UTC

I recently learned that there have been a couple of productions of Shakespeare in what is theoretically the "original pronunciation" -- the accents people in Elizabethan England would have used. Kansas University is putting one on in the states, and there are some clips of Ben Crystal (Shakespeare on Toast) performing stuff in OP on Youtube.

Anybody else know of this? Any Brits seen any such performances in the U.K.? The accent really is lovely -- lyrical and swift.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Masily box » Sat Oct 30, 2010 3:14 am UTC

Euphonium wrote:Shakespeare was a talentless hack who is impossible to take seriously.


You seem to be basing your argument on a notion of artistic expression that I find to be pretty wacky; I'm not going to try to argue you out of it. But I would like to try to convince you that Shakespeare was more than a talentless hack: whatever you might say about the emotional content of his works, Shakespeare had an astonishing gift for making the English language dance.

Consider the first long paragraph that Hamlet gets to speak, just from the perspective of its rhythmic flow:

some talentless hack wrote:Hamlet
Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.


The passage starts with a one-line prelude (almost like the last line of recitative that sets up an aria), one which is broken up into three small syntactic units: two words, stop. Three words, stop. Four words, stop. It grounds the passage rhythmically, and it's anchored on both ends by the word that sparks the diatribe: "seem."

From there it launches into a long-breathed gust of ideas that just refuses to come to rest. Each new line of iambic pentameter is pushed forward by a negation: the first one, "not," lands on a strong beat, whereas the next few "nor"s serve as pickups. The fifth line hits a bump with two negatives: "no" jumps in, delaying the expected "nor" into an accented syllable. "Nor" picks up that accent like a sponge, and carries it into the next line, disrupting the meter into "Nór thè dèjécted." The jolt (or is it a lilt?) signals that we're finally coming to the end of the long tirading list...

Only not quite yet. It shifts into high gear, spitting out a string of monosyllables ("forms, moods, shapes of grief," crescendoing to "shapes"), arriving finally on a pause with the colon after truly. The new clause after the colon ("these indeed seem") breaks the meter far more strongly than anything up to this point: after the stressed final syllable of "indeed" it jams in a second one: "seem." Seem, the focus of the rant, said here as the climax of the passage... jammed into the meter like a wrench in the works. It's highlighted all the more by the scarcity of accented "ee" vowels throughout the rest of the passage. (No coincidence, of course, that "indeed" had one.)

After that extra-heavy, extra-metrical stress, the passage subsides into its rhymed conclusion. But not without one final wobble: the word "these," in the last line, as if remembering the climax, seems to want an accent, the whole tirade boiled down to this one pronoun. If you give it one, the result is the same lilting rhythm as we had in line six ("nor the dejected...").

As a whole, the eleven lines break down into 1+5+5: the prelude, the list, and the rest. The closing lines of the two larger blocks share the same syncopation, so the whole design has a nice symmetry to it. Except it's a symmetry that's cut across by the syntactic units: the ranted list barrels past the halfway point into the seventh line. And as we've already mentioned, you don't actually reach a point of arrival until the colon after "truly," which itself falls in the middle of a line, not at an end. So there's a nice, stable formal structure that the actual rhythm of the speech works against, building up to a delayed (and thus heightened) climax.

---

That's a whole bunch of lovely little subtleties, and I haven't said a word about imagery, symbolism, diction, and I've made only the slightest mentions of tone and phonetics. And, of course, all of this without a word about how this colors our conception of Hamlet's character (remember that this is our first introduction to him), or the obvious but delicious way in which this passage, like the play as a whole, is about the nature of acting (both in the sense of "doing something" and of "playing a part").

So I don't think I'd call Shakespeare a hack.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Hope_ » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:54 am UTC

Euphonium wrote:Shakespeare was a talentless hack who is impossible to take seriously.

In Shakespeare's time, England was on the rise, soon to become the most powerful single force in the world. The melodrama that so permeates Shakespeare's work is laughably absurd coming from his pen: there's no justification for it, either from his own life or from within the state of the world at the time. It's insincere and cheap, and its artistic merit ranks somewhere between Twilight and Goosebumps.


WHAT?! I'm sorry. That man had talent you can't deny it. They plays have survived hundreds of years, and thousands of performances.

1 in every 10 words he wrote was original (for facts please see Bill Bryson's 'Shakespeare'). Could you just make up 10% of everything you say?! That man had talent.

In other news I love, I mean seriously LOVE, 'Much Ado About Nothing', and have decided (of about 2 minutes ago) to make it a mission to go and see it on stage some time this year. :)
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Jumble » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:28 pm UTC

@Hope: completely agree with you. Euphonium's snipe was laughably unsupported and unsupportable. Much of the poetry and richness of the English language today can be directly traced to the works of Shakespeare. The complexity and the variety of his stories show an imagination that has been rarely seen in an author, before or since. The cleverness of his wit, the poetry and song in his prose and the shear impact of his language is without precedent. I think this says it much better than I can:

Bernard Levin wrote:
Spoiler:
If you cannot understand my argument, and declare "It's Greek to me", you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise - why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I were dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut, tut! for goodness' sake! what the dickens! but me no buts - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare. (The Story of English, 145)

However, the thing that really impresses me is the fact that the bawdy humour, the rediculous set-ups ('oh, twins, but one of them is a girl dressed as a man', etc...) just indicate that he was not only a great literary play-write but also a popular success in his time, who could fill play houses with normal commoners from the street and entertain them for 2 hours. Umberto Eco is a great author, but I don't reckon he could write a 2 hour episode of Eastenders that would pull in the punters to the Christmas special, and that's the versatility we are talking about here.
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Midnight » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:46 pm UTC

Melodrama? He was basing a lot of his work on Roman stuff (who based their stuff on classical greek stuff). His was high art, for the time. The constant criticism* of shakespeare is by people that expect a writer four centuries dead to be contemporary. It's like saying the ending of Romeo & Juliet was cliche.
But if you want to get at Shakespeare, get at Seneca, or Terence. Or Euripides.

It's hard not to overstate his radiance* in the world of theater.
I mean, Chaucer may have created the first work of truly English literature with Canterbury Tales, but Shakespeare was creating a significant percentage of modern language at this perfect nexus, this eventful* time where Elizabeth had decided once and for all that in her court, they would speak English, not French. In one fell swoop*, all these words that people saw in the theater were used in the court, that trickles down to the lower people & the dictionaries.


To call it melodrama is silly, cause melodrama is something else. To call it Twilight is also laughable*, cause Shakespeare has no bloody* vampires in it.



*words or terms invented by shakespeare. I would like to point out that in your very posts, Euphonium, you use words that he invented to mock him.
uhhhh fuck.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Euphonium » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:59 pm UTC

Hope_ wrote:
Euphonium wrote:Shakespeare was a talentless hack who is impossible to take seriously.

In Shakespeare's time, England was on the rise, soon to become the most powerful single force in the world. The melodrama that so permeates Shakespeare's work is laughably absurd coming from his pen: there's no justification for it, either from his own life or from within the state of the world at the time. It's insincere and cheap, and its artistic merit ranks somewhere between Twilight and Goosebumps.


WHAT?! I'm sorry. That man had talent you can't deny it.

I am, because he didn't.

They plays have survived hundreds of years, and thousands of performances.

Because he had good PR, which was able to dupe people into thinking they were good. Not because they were actually good.

Tolstoy's writings on this subject are quite enlightening.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Jumble » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:32 pm UTC

That's it? That's your idea of debate? In response to more than 100 lines of reasoned and referenced argument you manage 4 lines of 'cause I'm right and your wrong'.

Sod you then. You're not worth debating with. Fancy arguing in favour of a flat Earth? You sound supremely well qualified.
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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Midnight » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:53 pm UTC

Shakespeare, who has always had a controversy because people didn't believe that a peasant could write like he did... he had good PR?
If you have problems with the style, that's fine. But Shakespeare was best at that style, cause you can't name a better contemporary. Marlowe? Ben Jonson? I don't think so.

See, I don't like Bach cause I don't like baroque. But I know that Bach was definitely not a talentless hack, and I know he was the best at baroque.
uhhhh fuck.

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Re: Shakespeare Thread

Postby Hope_ » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:03 am UTC

Well done, you managed to pick out my worst arguments there because I was bowled over by the idiocy of your statements and completely miss the next two excellent responses by Jumble and Midnight, not to mention the amazing one by Masily box above mine. This is not how to debate.
If you don't like him don't post in the thread. Simple. As Jumble said it is not worth debating with you.
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