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Old July 4 2013, 04:31 PM   #88
stj
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Re: Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, by Harold Bloom is the sort of official context I'm thinking about. With the number of books with Bloom's name on them, I don't think he can be dismissed as a crank. And this "Bardolatry" long precedes us. Henry James wrote The Birthplace long ago.
Esthetically speaking, Shakespeare is the equivalent of the flag, Mom and apple pie. Only the perverse and tasteless are less than enthusiastic.

I think it's ironic that the official status assigned to Shakespeare seems to interfere with a genuine appreciation of his comedies. Comedy is always underrated but in Shakespeare the need to falsely elevate the tragedies and histories leads this to near criminal underestimation of his remarkable range and depth in the comedies.

However, I do not think any contemporary figure can be compared with Shakespeare. An essential aspect of Shakespeare is not his stagecraft or witty dialogue or blank verse, but his borrowing. Modern notions about originality forbid anyone to operate as Shakespeare did. Shakespeare appears to me to have made his real money as a partner in a theater. Certainly no other playwright seems to have been able to make himself rich, although a couple, Marlowe and Kyd managed to make themselves dead. Shakespeare was the kind of man who thrived in a despotism. I think that the kind of man he was also comes out in his plays.

PS It occurred to me that while you appreciate the sophisticated character of Macbeth, I can't forget that the real Macbeth was nothing like that, that in fact the real Macbeth ruled for about seventeen years. Incidentally, the second season of the Canadian series Slings & Arrows covers the production of Macbeth, and has some interesting things to say. The comments of the Nigerian janitor to the play's director are especially provocative. Also, buried amongst the hugger-mugger in Anonymous is a set piece scene about the play Henry V, which dramatizes the excitement or joy of enthralling an audience. (As you know, any resemblance to any genuine human beings in Anonymous is more or less accidental.)
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