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Re: [mythsoc] A Tale of Two Professors

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  • David Bratman
    ... You might be amazed at the number of critics who believe, or believed, that literature is for the armchair only, and that to see a play staged is to dilute
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 1, 2004
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      At 09:55 AM 12/1/2004 -0500, dianejoy@... wrote:

      >Shakespeare must be *seen* to be appreciated fully.

      You might be amazed at the number of critics who believe, or believed, that
      literature is for the armchair only, and that to see a play staged is to
      dilute the literary experience. Tolkien had the answer to that in their
      own terms: he held that drama is not, in that sense, literature, but a
      different art.

      I agree with you and Tolkien: drama is best staged. If not, read it aloud.
      (Poetry should also usually be read aloud.) I have even seen plays that I
      believe should NOT, under any circumstances, be read on the page for any
      sort of appreciation. Shakespeare, at least, CAN work that way, but some
      excellent modern dramatists can't.


      >One was a frosh comp teacher who read sex into every story, whether it was
      >really there or not (literary hallucination #1). Every long object was . .
      >. well, you can guess.

      Piet Hein wrote:

      Everything is either
      Concave or -vex,
      So whatever you dream
      Will be something with sex.

      (Illustrated with a drawing of a shocked sleeper awakening from a dream of
      coffee and donuts)
    • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
      ... that ... I ll second that. I don t like Shakespeare very much at all, but it is far more tolerable to watch and hear than to read. I prefer older
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 1, 2004
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        > [Original Message]
        > From: David Bratman <dbratman@...>
        >
        > At 09:55 AM 12/1/2004 -0500, dianejoy@... wrote:
        >
        > >Shakespeare must be *seen* to be appreciated fully.
        >
        > You might be amazed at the number of critics who believe, or believed,
        that
        > literature is for the armchair only, and that to see a play staged is to
        > dilute the literary experience. Tolkien had the answer to that in their
        > own terms: he held that drama is not, in that sense, literature, but a
        > different art.
        >

        I'll second that. I don't like Shakespeare very much at all, but it is far
        more tolerable to watch and hear than to read. I prefer older literature,
        or Cranmer. lol

        > I agree with you and Tolkien: drama is best staged. If not, read it
        aloud.
        > (Poetry should also usually be read aloud.) I have even seen plays that
        I
        > believe should NOT, under any circumstances, be read on the page for any
        > sort of appreciation. Shakespeare, at least, CAN work that way, but some
        > excellent modern dramatists can't.
        >
        I recently came across a funny site about poetry that took the opposite
        stance, that it should not be read aloud because that was "artificial" or
        some such argument. I could see their point, in a way, but I will remain
        with the school that allows oral practice. Even when read silently, I
        think we make it "sound" differently in our heads, if we are not rushing.
        Let me see if I can find the website. I have been kind of on a Vincent
        Millay kick, and I will spare you my own recent verse lol.

        http://slate.msn.com/?id=2059241

        (Hearing Aid
        Sometimes poetry should be seen but not heard.
        By Adam Kirsch
        Posted Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2001, at 12:31 PM PT )


        I am new to the practice of listening to things on the web, but I did
        manage to download and listen to Millay and Yeats and one other. It was a
        neat experience. Millay didn't sound how I expected her to at all. Ah,
        Berryman was the third, and I didn't like him at all really, although he
        reminded me of Tom Lehrer, whom I do find entertaining.

        >
        > >One was a frosh comp teacher who read sex into every story, whether it
        was
        > >really there or not (literary hallucination #1). Every long object was
        . .
        > >. well, you can guess.
        >
        A baguette?

        > Piet Hein wrote:
        >
        > Everything is either
        > Concave or -vex,
        > So whatever you dream
        > Will be something with sex.
        >
        > (Illustrated with a drawing of a shocked sleeper awakening from a dream of
        > coffee and donuts)
        >
        Well, there you have my psyche in a nutshell... "coffee and" and boys.
        Gee, I didn't realize I was so simple. Thanks, David.

        Lizzie

        Elizabeth Apgar Triano
        lizziewriter@...
        amor vincit omnia
        www.lizziewriter.com
        www.danburymineralogicalsociety.org

        >
        >
        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • Debra Murphy
        I think the Shakespeare-is-toO-profound-to-be-staged school of lit crit went out of favor there for a while, thank God, though it has been replaced in some
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 1, 2004
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          I think the Shakespeare-is-toO-profound-to-be-staged school of lit crit went out of favor there for a while, thank God, though it has been replaced in some circles by far worse (Deconstruction, New Historicism); but it does have at least one famous contemporary exponent, and that is Harold Bloom, who has claimed he has never seen a LEAR that did anything but grieve him, or words to that defect, as Dogberry might say.

          Now I have a whole website devoted to Shax-on-film, so I guess that puts me squarely in the opposing camp, much as I otherwise appreciate the eccentric Dr. Bloom, who shows himself in this, as in so much else, to be something of a cranky Gnostic. Give me Shakespeare in performance any day, including even the "impossible to stage" LEAR. (James Earl Jones, Olivier...) Indeed, I fell in love with the Bard all over again as an adult after seeing Jacobi's HAMLET and Branagh's HENRY V.

          I daresay it's ultimately a matter of taste, but it strikes me that those who cannot bear Shakespeare-in-performance are probably the sorts of people who either don't care much for theatre anyway, or who live primarily inside their heads, as it were; who have so specific a construct in their minds for what the play's about that they cannot stand to see it done otherwise.

          Debra Murphy

          http://www.bardolatry.com
          http://www.debramurphy.com
          http://www.themysteryofthings.com

          ---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
          From: David Bratman <dbratman@...>

          >
          >At 09:55 AM 12/1/2004 -0500, dianejoy@... wrote:
          >
          >>Shakespeare must be *seen* to be appreciated fully.
          >
          >You might be amazed at the number of critics who believe, or believed, that
          >literature is for the armchair only, and that to see a play staged is to
          >dilute the literary experience. Tolkien had the answer to that in their
          >own terms: he held that drama is not, in that sense, literature, but a
          >different art.
          >
          >I agree with you and Tolkien: drama is best staged. If not, read it aloud.
          > (Poetry should also usually be read aloud.) I have even seen plays that I
          >believe should NOT, under any circumstances, be read on the page for any
          >sort of appreciation. Shakespeare, at least, CAN work that way, but some
          >excellent modern dramatists can't.



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        • David Bratman
          ... It seemed to me that the argument of the article you linked to was that _listening_ to a poet s reading of his own poetry should not be taken as the
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 1, 2004
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            At 11:26 AM 12/1/2004 -0500, Lizzie wrote:

            >I recently came across a funny site about poetry that took the opposite
            >stance, that it should not be read aloud because that was "artificial" or
            >some such argument.

            It seemed to me that the argument of the article you linked to was that
            _listening_ to a poet's reading of his own poetry should not be taken as
            the definitive interpretation. That might not always be true, but it's a
            different point. I was in any case talking of reading poetry aloud, not
            listening to someone else read it aloud. If, as the article suggests, some
            can read silently as if they were reading aloud, they might get out of
            poetry what the rest of us are missing. But few have that talent.


            At 09:04 AM 12/1/2004 -0800, Debra Murphy wrote:

            >I daresay it's ultimately a matter of taste, but it strikes me that those
            >who cannot bear Shakespeare-in-performance are probably the sorts of people
            >who either don't care much for theatre anyway, or who live primarily inside
            >their heads, as it were; who have so specific a construct in their minds for
            >what the play's about that they cannot stand to see it done otherwise.

            I'm not sure if that's the problem - I believe in Shakespeare dramatized,
            but I'm one of the people allergic to the whole idea of dramatizing LOTR
            and specifically disappointed with the Jackson version. The difference, of
            course, is that Tolkien dramatized is no longer Tolkien, but Shakespeare
            dramatized is the essence of Shakespeare. Perhaps the anti-performers in
            Shakespeare studies are the people who haven't figured that out - who,
            again, in Tolkien's words haven't realized that drama is a separate art
            from pure literature.

            A similar problem comes up in music. Some persist in thinking of the score
            as the "real" music, but it is nothing of the kind. Ontologically, a score
            is not music at all: it's instructions for performing music. The music
            does not exist until it is performed. Something similar could be said of a
            playscript.

            David Bratman
          • Mike Foster
            Lizzie, Your site is funny as in queer not as in ha-ha. I m with David, and I so advise my students: read it aloud or hear it done so by recordings of the
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 2, 2004
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              Lizzie,
              Your site is funny as in queer not as in ha-ha. I'm with David, and I
              so advise my students: read it aloud or hear it done so by recordings of
              the poet. Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot are examples of two whose work is
              better heard than read. I did not appreciate what a magnificent and
              under-rated poet Conrad Aiken was until I heard Cademon recordings he made.

              Cheers,
              Mike

              David Bratman wrote:

              >At 11:26 AM 12/1/2004 -0500, Lizzie wrote:
              >
              >
              >
              >>I recently came across a funny site about poetry that took the opposite
              >>stance, that it should not be read aloud because that was "artificial" or
              >>some such argument.
              >>
              >>
              >
              >It seemed to me that the argument of the article you linked to was that
              >_listening_ to a poet's reading of his own poetry should not be taken as
              >the definitive interpretation. That might not always be true, but it's a
              >different point. I was in any case talking of reading poetry aloud, not
              >listening to someone else read it aloud. If, as the article suggests, some
              >can read silently as if they were reading aloud, they might get out of
              >poetry what the rest of us are missing. But few have that talent.
              >
              >
              >At 09:04 AM 12/1/2004 -0800, Debra Murphy wrote:
              >
              >
              >
              >>I daresay it's ultimately a matter of taste, but it strikes me that those
              >>who cannot bear Shakespeare-in-performance are probably the sorts of people
              >>who either don't care much for theatre anyway, or who live primarily inside
              >>their heads, as it were; who have so specific a construct in their minds for
              >>what the play's about that they cannot stand to see it done otherwise.
              >>
              >>
              >
              >I'm not sure if that's the problem - I believe in Shakespeare dramatized,
              >but I'm one of the people allergic to the whole idea of dramatizing LOTR
              >and specifically disappointed with the Jackson version. The difference, of
              >course, is that Tolkien dramatized is no longer Tolkien, but Shakespeare
              >dramatized is the essence of Shakespeare. Perhaps the anti-performers in
              >Shakespeare studies are the people who haven't figured that out - who,
              >again, in Tolkien's words haven't realized that drama is a separate art
              >from pure literature.
              >
              >A similar problem comes up in music. Some persist in thinking of the score
              >as the "real" music, but it is nothing of the kind. Ontologically, a score
              >is not music at all: it's instructions for performing music. The music
              >does not exist until it is performed. Something similar could be said of a
              >playscript.
              >
              >David Bratman
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
              >Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >


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