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Pavlos
02-28-2009, 02:18 AM
Using this image of Kenneth Branagh looking rather scared as inspiration, does Shakespeare matter to you? Do you think it should be taught in schools? Is he just pointlessly outdated, kept alive by a bunch of luvvies in large shirts?

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b73/Pavlos_1/Shakespeare.jpg

Famous because he's famous? You don't even have to say "Shakespeare's works" anymore, simply "Shakespeare" will do...

Samuel Dravis
02-28-2009, 03:53 AM
There may be some people who like Shakespeare only because he's popular, but he certainly isn't popular without reason. As you know, I recently read Othello and I liked it a lot. The language may be archaic (I don't have the smallest vocabulary and I often had to read the footnotes), but Shakespeare's stories are genuinely good and his characters are believable human beings.

I know that when I was younger I disliked Shakespeare. I tend to think that was mostly because I was just reading it out of a book and not imagining the scenes as they were meant to be enjoyed: on a stage. Now I try to imagine the character's voices with emotion and that helps a great deal.

I think that it should be taught in schools, but only if the teaching of it involves acting it out in some way. One of my professors made students read sections "with feeling". For me, that made the play King Lear much more understandable, not to mention enjoyable. The way I see it, if you're only going to include half of the play - the purely verbal part - then why even bother?

Astor
02-28-2009, 04:15 AM
Secondary Schools in England seem to be limited to teaching one play. That's all we got - a book with the play in it, and no visual aids. Shakespeare is at times difficult for even adults to understand - there's no way thirteen year old with just a playbook can possibly understand it properly.

That's probably the reason why many school children dislike Shakespeare - there's not really any learning beyond reading the book and then explaining what it is about - nothing about the character's feelings or motivation (or maybe it was just the school I went to).

If teaching of The Bard's works is to continue, there needs to be some improvement in the way it is done.

SW01
02-28-2009, 05:35 AM
I always enjoyed reading Shakespeare in school, from thirteen on. Part of that was attributable to the teacher we had - utterly brilliant - and part was to do with the play itself, which was Julius Caesar. Like Samuel Dravis, we had to read parts aloud, too, at that early stage. It is undeniably a great aid to comprehension of what is, admittedly, a very complex subject.

Later on, when we had to look at Romeo and Juliet (the other class got MacBeth:dozey:), and then, at the last, Coriolanus (my favourite so far), we were encouraged to read through and consider stage direction and dramatic method ourselves, though the teachers did give us hints now and then!

After that, I took to reading Shakespeare for leasure for a short time, and made it through MacBeth and part of Othello, and the tales remain engaging, the characters remain interesting.

Does it matter to me? Absolutely. His works have survived comfortably for the best part of five hundred years, still read and performed regularly today - an incredible achievement. Certainly, we have plays and poems from far further back, but none, I believe, have managed to maintain such interest as Shakespeare, and certainly they do not usually have the same 'mass-appeal' as his work does.

Should it be taught in schools? I think if an English Literature course is to be in any way credible, this cornerstone of English culture, language and drama must be taught, not in any watered-down way, but in its original form. You cannot possibly abridge a play text so packed with dramatic devices without losing a great deal of its meaning. I do not have an attitude of "I had to suffer it, so do you", it is more that I want others to have the introduction to it that I had, to be taught in order to be able to appreciate it, because I question to what extent it is possible to pick up a Shakespeare play and read it through without some, even basic, instruction.

EnderWiggin
02-28-2009, 07:59 AM
There may be some people who like Shakespeare only because he's popular, but he certainly isn't popular without reason. As you know, I recently read Othello and I liked it a lot. The language may be archaic (I don't have the smallest vocabulary and I often had to read the footnotes), but Shakespeare's stories are genuinely good and his characters are believable human beings.

I know that when I was younger I disliked Shakespeare. I tend to think that was mostly because I was just reading it out of a book and not imagining the scenes as they were meant to be enjoyed: on a stage. Now I try to imagine the character's voices with emotion and that helps a great deal.

I think that it should be taught in schools, but only if the teaching of it involves acting it out in some way. One of my professors made students read sections "with feeling". For me, that made the play King Lear much more understandable, not to mention enjoyable. The way I see it, if you're only going to include half of the play - the purely verbal part - then why even bother?


I agree with you. Othello was very enjoyable, and I think that it should continue to be taught. And you're right, Sam - the emotion is key to understanding the story.

_EW_

jonathan7
03-01-2009, 07:00 PM
At the time in Highschool I hated Shakespeare, however, with hindsight, I think it defiantly should be taught, and that Shakespeare was a genius.

Adavardes
03-01-2009, 07:12 PM
I think he matters in that he was the first writer to tie realism and human nature in with human emotion, in a way so brilliantly believable that he set himself apart from his peers almost immediately. His writing reflects not only a sharp wit and a keen sense of humour, but also a vivid understanding of multiple facets regarding the human condition. He should still be taught because few will ever be as eloquent and talented as he was, and it is best to learn from those who exhibited greatness before you if you wish to be great yourself.

Yar-El
03-11-2009, 09:38 PM
Using this image of Kenneth Branagh looking rather scared as inspiration, does Shakespeare matter to you? Do you think it should be taught in schools? Is he just pointlessly outdated, kept alive by a bunch of luvvies in large shirts?

.............

Famous because he's famous? You don't even have to say "Shakespeare's works" anymore, simply "Shakespeare" will do...
Shakespeare teaches people to think abstractly. You are forced read a statement, pause, and then come to a conclusion. The Ovid and Dante's Inferno are also along the same lines. You learn something new from each read.

Jae Onasi
03-11-2009, 11:17 PM
Definitely he should be taught--his works have had a huge impact on our language and there are so many sayings we use today that reference his plays or poetry in some way. I think it helps to read it out loud, see it acted out, or at least hear a great voice actor read it. I think his works would be more approachable if they included some of his comedies for the high school crowd along with his tragedies. There's just something about how Michael Keaton delivers the lines in Much Ado about Nothing that really made his character totally whacked out and made that film a lot of fun. The bath scene at the beginning of the film was worth the price of admission all by itself, not to mention Denzel Washington, Emma Thompson, and Kenneth Branagh putting in terrific performances.

Q
03-11-2009, 11:35 PM
@Adavardes: I couldn't have said it better myself. :)

I got my first taste of Shakespeare when I saw a performance of Macbeth at my sister's college at the age of 12. It had everything that makes a great story: intrigue, murder, guilt and revenge, with lots of violence and some witchcraft thrown in for good measure. It is still my favorite. Shakespeare's themes are still very relevant and will remain so as long as there is a human race.

And Kenneth Branagh? Pffffffft.

http://static.guim.co.uk/Arts/gallery/2007/may/15/olivier/laurence9-6857.jpg

CommanderQ
03-11-2009, 11:48 PM
I do believe that Shakespeare is quite important, and probably should be continued to be taught in schools and colleges. His plays have had such an amazing impact on entertainment and literature...though sometimes his plays can be hard to understand if you are not used to the sayings and speak of his day and age...footnotes are important:D

Pavlos
03-12-2009, 06:26 AM
But what makes Shakespeare worthy of being taught beyond, say, Milton, or even Middleton*? Because he is... constantly other great poets and playwrights are pushed aside for him.

*Who, incidentally wrote my favourite scene in renaissance literature:

DeFlores
Push, you forget your selfe, a woman dipt in blood, and talk of modesty.

Beatrice
O misery of sin! would I had been bound
Perpetually unto my living hate
In that Piracquo , then to hear these words.
Think but upon the distance that Creation
Set 'twixt thy blood and mine, and keep thee there.

DeFlores
Look but into your conscience, read me there,
'Tis a true Book, you'l find me there your equall:
Push, flye not to your birth, but settle you
In what the act has made you, y'are no more now,
You must forget your parentage to me,
Y'are the deeds creature, by that name
You lost your first condition, and I challenge you,
As peace and innocency has turn'd you out,
And made you one with me.

Beatrice
With thee, foul villain?

DeFlores
Yes, my fair murdress; Do you urge me?
Though thou writ'st maid, thou whore in thy affection,
'Twas chang'd from thy first love, and that's a kind
Of whoredome in thy heart, and he's chang'd now,
To bring thy second on thy Alsemero ,
Whom (by all sweets that ever darkness tasted,
If I enjoy thee not) thou ne're enjoyst,
I'le blast the hopes and joyes of marriage,
I'le confess all, my life I rate at nothing.

Beatrice
DeFlores!

DeFlores
I shall rest from all lovers plagues then,
I live in pain now: that shooting eye
Will burn my heart to cinders.

Beatrice
O sir, hear me.

DeFlores
She that in life and love refuses me,
In death and shame my partner she shall be.

Beatrice
Stay, hear me once for all, I make thee master
Of all the wealth I have in gold and jewels,
Let me go poor unto my bed with honor,
And I am rich in all things.

DeFlores
Let this silence thee,
The wealth of all Valentia shall not buy my pleasure from me,
Can you weep Fate from its determin'd purpose?
So soon may weep me.

Beatrice
Vengeance begins;
Murder I see is followed by more sins.
Was my creation in the womb so curst,
It must ingender with a Viper first?

DeFlores
Come, rise, and shrowd your blushes in my bosome,
Silence is one of pleasures best receipts:
Thy peace is wrought for ever in this yeelding.
'Lasse how the Turtle pants! Thoul't love anon,
What thou so fear'st, and faintst to venture on. Exeunt

And Kenneth Branagh? Pffffffft.
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jonathan7
03-12-2009, 08:31 AM
Look what I found; http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/

Endorenna
03-12-2009, 10:08 AM
Yea, Shakespeare's important, if for no other reason than the impact it's had on our culture. I personally dislike most of his stuff, despite the fact that my teacher has us read it the right way (aka not droning ;)), but I can see why other people like it.

Another thing Shakespear does is teach people about archaic language. I swear I learned at least a hundred words between all of those plays we read last year.

Yar-El
03-12-2009, 11:39 AM
Definitely he should be taught--his works have had a huge impact on our language and there are so many sayings we use today that reference his plays or poetry in some way. I think it helps to read it out loud, see it acted out, or at least hear a great voice actor read it. I think his works would be more approachable if they included some of his comedies for the high school crowd along with his tragedies. There's just something about how Michael Keaton delivers the lines in Much Ado about Nothing that really made his character totally whacked out and made that film a lot of fun. The bath scene at the beginning of the film was worth the price of admission all by itself, not to mention Denzel Washington, Emma Thompson, and Kenneth Branagh putting in terrific performances.

Patrick Stewart started his career acting in Shakespeare plays.

Patrick Stewart as Oberon -
http://lucasforums.com/picture.php?albumid=274&pictureid=3060
Shakespeare influenced Star Trek in so many ways. Without his impact on society and literature, I don't think alot of shows would have been successful. He is the master of tragedy, fatalism, and irony.

Astrotoy7
03-12-2009, 11:58 AM
Any great work, be it a film, painting or play, will resonate through the ages if it manages to capture something essential of the wiles of being human.

Shakespearian language can indeed be mind numbing when you first come across it, but it's simply a matter of exposure, like with any language.

I personally am a huge fan of Shakespearian adapatations that have nothing to do with with the 'doth thou' language or settings of the original... two of the greatest being these: The themes are the vital essence, and these two films by Akira Kurosawa do that better than anything Olivier or Branagh has [IMO of course]

Kumonosu jô [Throne of Blood] 1957. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050613/) (an adaptation Macbeth)
Ms Yamada's portrayal of Lady Asaji Washizu is the most chilling 'Lady Macbeth' Ive ever seen.
http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc288/Astrotoy7/throne.jpg

Ran. 1985 (an adaptation of King Lear) (http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=ran&x=18&y=5)
http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc288/Astrotoy7/Ran.jpg

If you havent seen either of these films...by all means DO!

mtfbwya

Adavardes
03-12-2009, 02:04 PM
He is the master of tragedy, fatalism, and dramatic irony.

Fixed. And that contribution to literature has been a monumental element in many, if not most, of the plot structures for plays, movies, and novels that followed.

CommanderQ
03-12-2009, 02:08 PM
[IMO of course]

Kumonosu j [Throne of Blood] 1957. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050613/) (an adaptation Macbeth)
Ms Yamada's portrayal of Lady Asaji Washizu is the most chilling 'Lady Macbeth' Ive ever seen.
http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc288/Astrotoy7/throne.jpg

Ran. 1985 (an adaptation of King Lear) (http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=ran&x=18&y=5)
http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc288/Astrotoy7/Ran.jpg

If you havent seen either of these films...by all means DO!

mtfbwya


Fine choice indeed, Astro! Those films are a few of the greatest out there:D Not to mention their Shakespearen roots:D Agreed, WATCH THESE FILMS!!:D

Darth_Yuthura
03-31-2009, 11:52 PM
Shakespeare has had his moment and his writings should have faded into the mists of history. Since his work has been immortalized as it is, it doesn't deserve to be read if it's not worth reading. I can't imagine the majority of the populace would want to read what he had to say because the English language is dynamic and the writings he has done lose their value as fewer can understand it.

I think he's gotten more than he deserved and if no one wants to read his writings, they should rightly be forgotten.

Samuel Dravis
04-01-2009, 12:15 AM
Shakespeare has had his moment and his writings should have faded into the mists of history. Since his work has been immortalized as it is, it doesn't deserve to be read if it's not worth reading. I can't imagine the majority of the populace would want to read what he had to say because the English language is dynamic and the writings he has done lose their value as fewer can understand it.

I think he's gotten more than he deserved and if no one wants to read his writings, they should rightly be forgotten.We're hardly doing Shakespeare a favor by reading his works. If the works are good - and their popularity is indicative that they are - then we're doing ourselves a favor by reading them, because we get to enjoy something beautiful.

Since his work has been immortalized as it is, it doesn't deserve to be read if it's not worth reading.I don't understand this. His work is enjoyed, in fact it becomes wildly popular (immortalized) over centuries because it is so enjoyable, and now we're just evaluating whether it's good or not?

I can't imagine the majority of the populace would want to read what he had to say because the English language is dynamic and the writings he has done lose their value as fewer can understand it.Well, I've enjoyed translations of Beowulf or Chaucer just fine. Merely because the language changes so greatly to necessitate translation doesn't mean the original is worthless or even that it loses value over time; rather, those academic types love to read cryptic stuff and translate it (and I'm very glad they do; Beowulf was awesome). Has the Epic of Gilgamesh lost value over time? No one speaks the language it was written in today, but it is still very popular-- arguably more popular than ever. The Bible? Who speaks that kind of Greek now anyway?

My experience with Shakespeare is that I just need a good copy with lots of footnotes that detail words with different meanings than I am used to. What can I say, I just like reading the original. However, I don't think there would be any real problem with altering the wording of the plays in very minor ways to make the meaning clearer. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

Adavardes
04-01-2009, 12:16 AM
I think he's gotten more than he deserved and if no one wants to read his writings, they should rightly be forgotten.

In a society that considers rap a valid form of music, I'm not too concerned about what people want to read.

Darth_Yuthura
04-01-2009, 01:17 AM
People misunderstand. The English language is dynamic... constantly changing. As the language changes, past writings lose their quality because no one speaks the language from that point in history. They may have been much better in their prime, but as it is taught in schools; it is disruptive.

It would be like teaching cartography by having people do mapping via obsolete techniques, which are hardly of any value in a practical sense for today's demands. Why don't we have doctors start using leaches at some point to see how the physicians of the past did their job? Maybe it would be worth it to teach history without including some modern discoveries that significantly influenced today's world? These make just as much sense as trying to force students to essentially learn an obsolete form of English that has no place in the world today.

It might be nice to do so, but aside from that... maybe his plays should be modernized? That way, it could account for the discrepancies that came as the language changed over the centuries.

Q
04-01-2009, 01:26 AM
Hm, sounds like colorizing black & white movies to me. Abominable to me, but I understand why some would want to do that.

You change the language, you lose the rhythm of the prose.

I'll admit that being raised on the King James Bible gave me an early advantage when it came to reading Shakespeare.

SkittlesnCream
04-01-2009, 01:45 AM
Shakespeare's plays frequently are modernized. Sometimes the results are great; other times they're painful. But it is a valid idea that can be done, and has.

Yes, the English language is dynamic. Still, it all stems from the same source. All right, med students shouldn't use leeches -- but should they ignore the existence of Hippocrates? I think there's a happy medium between living in the past and ignoring it completely.

Besides, as has been pointed out already, Shakespeare's plays (and all others, for that matter) were written to be performed. A lot of modern plays make very little sense on paper. Don't believe me? Try reading Perfect Crime by Warren Manzi and see how much you get out of it.

Sure, I've seen terrible productions of Shakespeare. I've also seen great ones. It's not just the use of words that has changed over the centuries; the styles of writing and acting have evolved tremendously as well. Still, the wonderful thing about theater is that every production of any given play is going to be different, and a savvy director will take his/her audience into account and try to make the play accessible to them.

Anyway, I guess my feelings on the matter boil down to the following points:

A.) Classical literature is often taught badly. Whether the teachers hate the material themselves, fail to communicate their enthusiasm, or simply aren't that good at teaching (saying, "Here, read this and tell me what happened" does not qualify), the end result is that students don't get it.
B.) Plays are not literature. Okay, I guess they sort of are, but they're certainly not comparable to novels, short stories, or poetry. There's a reason most directors begin the rehearsal period with a "read-through"; simply having the cast sit around and read the script is a tremendous help in understanding it. Archaic language aside, scripts are not reader-friendly. They're like blue-prints for a play--I wouldn't want to buy a house after just seeing the blue-prints; I'd want to take a tour.
C.) You can usually just read the Cliff Notes, if you hate Shakespeare that much. Most teachers will tell you this is not enough to pass the test, but nearly all of them are lying.

mur'phon
04-01-2009, 04:33 AM
I actually argee with DY to some extent, why make it mandatory to read a language that aren't used in practical situations, unless you work within those limited fields were it is usefull, in which case it should be part of that education.

Yes, the English language is dynamic. Still, it all stems from the same source. All right, med students shouldn't use leeches -- but should they ignore the existence of Hippocrates? I think there's a happy medium between living in the past and ignoring it completely.


Yet Hippocrates is usefull to know in a practicall situation doctors are likely to find themselves in (his oath commes to mind). However, knowing Shakespare seems to be mandatory to all students, most of which are unlikely to have to use what they learn.

As for how he should be kept alive, preserve his works, but let the market decide if people should read him or not.

Pavlos
04-01-2009, 07:33 AM
I woke up late and I haven't had my morning cup of tea yet so this may not be entirely coherent...

These make just as much sense as trying to force students to essentially learn an obsolete form of English that has no place in the world today.
Not to be picky or anything but Shakespeare wrote in modern English. The only thing that's different is the dialect and oddities of spelling ("starre" for "star", "uery" for "very", or "sciffors" for "scissors"). Although, The Revenger's Tragedy? does some? odd things with question-marks? To read it out from the accepted text is to sound very uncertain in dramatic moments.

You can modernise the spelling to remove that barrier but often some of the meaning or sound is lost if you do this. Shakespeare's decision to use "murther" rather than "murder" in a particular line can make it sound much more sinister, for example.

Besides, as has been pointed out already, Shakespeare's plays (and all others, for that matter) were written to be performed. A lot of modern plays make very little sense on paper. Don't believe me? Try reading Perfect Crime by Warren Manzi and see how much you get out of it.
I feel the need to address this issue of "Shakespeare's plays are meant to be performed". First of all, we can't really debate "what was meant to be done" with a play because authorial intent is a bit of a fallacy. The complete works of William Shakespeare may be *intended* to be performed but there are many (unopened and usually leather-bound) copies sitting around middle class houses in Britain which make a glorious addition to any bookcase and can fulfil the purpose of making the room look nicer and also causing the owner to look better educated perfectly.

If we're to argue how they, historically, were used then there are two things to consider:

1) Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights wrote in verse and prose (mostly the former). Now, as every year seven teacher will tell their pupils: the Elizabethans and Jacobeans spoke of going to "listen" to a play. Aside from the fact that it ignores the bloody spectacles and sword-fights that the Jacobean stage loved, it's mostly true.

Let's compare like with like; the occupation of the common man then with the occupation now. Plays with films. We live in a century of viewers. We understand the language of film; the positioning of a camera angle has a sub-conscious (or conscious) effect on the way we view a scene. But for a Jacobean to understand the full effect of a variety of camera angles he'd have to work pretty hard simply because he didn't grow up in a culture saturated with the visual; he grew up in one surrounded by the auditory. The playwright's manipulation of verse is akin (very roughly) to the director's positioning of the camera. Unless you bathe in poetry (not advisable) then you're going to have to work very hard to hear those shifts in metre, especially if you're already having trouble keeping track of Jonson's twenty-line-long-sentences-which-drag-on-forever-and-forever-until-next-Monday. No one performs Jonson (a contemporary of Shakespeare), nowadays, actually...

Anyway, if you sit down and read Antony and Cleopatra rather than go to see it your ears can far more easily pick up the fluctuations in metre and you will, in an odd kind of way, appreciate the play more along the lines of how a contemporary audience would have done in the pit of a playhouse. 'Cause we happen to be a century of readers as well as viewers.

That's simply a matter of preference, of course.

2) Jonson released his collected works (and carefully supervised their printing which, no doubt, put many potential Jonson-scholars out of work because they couldn't argue about whether or not Jonson really said "and" or actually, as has been accepted over the past ten years, "duck" as they do with Shakespeare) with the express purpose of (I paraphrase because I can't be bothered rooting around for the book) allowing is more educated fans to read and enjoy the full power of his verse. We also reckon that the version of Hamlet we perform today was not the version they performed. It's possible but I don't think many early-1600s crowds would like to stand on their feet in the pit for four hours listening to Hamlet interrogating a pepper-pot. The so-called "bad quarto" (assumed to be copied from Shakespeare's play by an actor in his company out to make money) may have the words wrong but it probably tells us more about the way in which the play was performed, with its stage directions and a scene-arrangement which flows better on the stage than the full text. The larger texts, we theorise, were therefore released for people to read, in much the same way as Jonson.

That bit's speculation but do bear in mind that people did read the plays as well as watch them.

Edit:

From Jonson's Volpone, an example of how Jonson wanted his plays to be read as well as watched:

V olpone, childless, rich, feigns sick, despairs,
O ffers his state to hopes of several heirs,
L ies languishing; his parasite receives
P resents of all, assures, deludes; then weaves
O ther cross-plots, which ope themselves, are told.
N ew tricks for safety are sought; they thrive; when, bold,
E ach tempts th'other again, and all are sold.

First letter of each line spells out VOLPONE. Not a coincidence. That and he also referred to Volpone as a "poem" in his introduction to the printed edition...

Samnmax221
04-05-2009, 05:09 PM
I think he's gotten more than he deserved and if no one wants to read his writings, they should rightly be forgotten.
I suppose you'd rather read some Dan Brown ****?

EnderWiggin
04-05-2009, 05:26 PM
Why don't we have doctors start using leaches at some point to see how the physicians of the past did their job?
Leeches are still used in certain situations in medicine today, so perhaps that's a good idea.

Shakespeare has had his moment and his writings should have faded into the mists of history.

I don't think so. They're brilliant examples of literary masterpiece that, yes, have been hyped, but should not "fade into the mists of history".

_EW_

Adavardes
04-05-2009, 06:32 PM
I think that the modern strain of english isn't an evolved form, but rather a devolved form, as shown by the levels of quality compared to more elegant forms used in more enlightened times. I'm not going to abandon the lessons learned from reading Shakespeare just because we've become a society that is, in my opinion, by the majority, simply too stupid to understand him.

Jae Onasi
04-05-2009, 07:15 PM
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
It is useful to study Shakespeare and others to see the progression of our language--it does help with spelling and grammar, something sorely lacking in America.

The reason why Shakespeare stays relevant is because his plays and poetry describe the human condition so well--love, betrayal, jealousy, honor, grief, courage, and so on. Those kinds of themes are timeless.

Pavlos
04-05-2009, 07:52 PM
I think that the modern strain of english isn't an evolved form, but rather a devolved form, as shown by the levels of quality compared to more elegant forms used in more enlightened times. I'm not going to abandon the lessons learned from reading Shakespeare just because we've become a society that is, in my opinion, by the majority, simply too stupid to understand him.

The globe has spun. He stands in the wooden O.
He alludes to Shakespeare. He alludes to Graves.
Time has bulldozed the school and school window.
Balers drop bales like printouts where stooked sheaves

Made lambdas on the stubble once at harvest
And the delta face of each potato pit
Was patted straight and moulded against frost.
All gone, with the omega that kept

Watch above each door, the good luck horse-shoe.
Yet shape-note language, absolute on air
As Constantine's sky-lettered in hoc signo
Can still command him; or the necromancer

Who would hang from the domed ceiling of his house
A figure of the world with colours in it
So that figure of the universe
And "not just single things" would meet his sight

When he walked abroad. As from his small window
The astronaut sees all he has sprung from,
The risen, aqueous, singular lucent O
Like a magnified and bouyant ovum --

Or like my own wide pre-reflective stare
All agog at the plasterer on his ladder
Skimming our gable and writing our name there
With his trowel point, letter by strange letter.


Every society feels as though it is in the shade of its predecessors. Simply because, when it comes to the forest of your time, you can't see the woods for those damnable, woeful, wretched trees. The past looks wonderfully solid and certain when compared to the shifting sands of the present. That's why we like to dress it up in period drama or science fiction, why the revolutions of today always make themselves look like those of the past. Why Mussolini presented himself as Caesar. Why Gordon "you'll have noticed I've changed my tie" Brown has asked Britain to regain its "Blitz spirit" in the light of economic downturn. Why the images of the French Revolution make it look like classical Greece. Why the British Empire called itself pax Britannica and Britannia looks awfully like Athena.

Not to be all Marxist about it but the past looks wonderfully set in stone (inlaid with marble, most often). Because Octavian was bound to become Augustus, couldn't have happened any other way. Cromwell was bound to become Lord Protector after the English (should really be British) Civil War and his Commonwealth was always going to fail. Napoleon was always going to fail when he took on Russia and the Credit Crunch was so obviously coming that I can't believe we didn't do anything about it.

But it wasn't obvious to everyone involved in those things -- as much as it should have been. Princess Diana? Bound to die in a car-crash. How stupid I was for not predicting that.

Look at Victorian architecture: Dickens's house (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3e/Gadshillplace.jpg) is an architectural mishmash of other cultures (I don't... do architecture and I'm running off research I did quite a while ago so excuse me while I embarrass myself: the tower-thingy, the pillars by the doors, and the weird loft-extension thingy are all nicked from other time periods and other cultures) which have slotted together to form something which is now seen as distinctly Victorian. And Dickens's reason for buying it? It links him with the other great poet of the past. Shakespeare. It sits atop Gad's Hill, where Falstaff robs those travellers in 1 Henry IV and then runs away. Not kidding... Dickens had a plaque installed in the wall with parts of the scene written on it and he insisted on inviting people around to "Shakespeare's Gadshill" for dinner and telling them of how Falstaff robbed the travellers on the site where his study now stands. Shakespeare himself stands in the shadow of Horace and Ovid, just they stand as the first generation of Roman poets with the responsibility of doing something more than ripping off the Ancient Greeks. Milton was overshadowed by Virgil who was overshadowed by Homer and we now view them as equals.

Past is fact. Present is unknown, uncertain, unwritten, unfinished. You can't appreciate the beauty of the building until its built. Mmm... now I know what it feels like to be Terry Eagleton; linking literature to the real world... what fun.

Shakespeare says it better:

Polonius: What follows then, my lord?

Hamlet: Why --
"As by lot God wot"
And then you know --
"It came to pass, as most like it was," --
The first row of the pious chanson shall show you more, for look where my abridgement comes.

mur'phon
04-06-2009, 05:10 AM
It is useful to study Shakespeare and others to see the progression of our language

But why do we need to know the progression of our mother tounge? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy things like tracing words to get as close to the source as possible, it's just that I don't see the point for every child to learn about that.

--it does help with spelling and grammar, something sorely lacking in America.

I'm a bit curious of how learning an obsolete way of spelling improves the spelling of current english.

The reason why Shakespeare stays relevant is because his plays and poetry describe the human condition so well--love, betrayal, jealousy, honor, grief, courage, and so on. Those kinds of themes are timeless.

But shouldn't it be up to each person to decide wether or not they find it relevant? If it is as you say, plenty of people will read him anyway, the only difference is that people don't have to read him.

Darth_Yuthura
04-07-2009, 12:29 AM
I suppose you'd rather read some Dan Brown ****?

No, I'd rather read something that's actually made to be read.

Example: KOTOR is a great game with great characters, but if you tried to make it into a novel, (All lines word for word. All sequences action for action.) you end up with something unremarkable and not worth wasting your time on.

The same thing goes for shakespeare. I ended up having more trouble believing the plot than actually comprehending the wording... which was pretty significant anyways.


I think that the modern strain of english isn't an evolved form, but rather a devolved form, as shown by the levels of quality compared to more elegant forms used in more enlightened times. I'm not going to abandon the lessons learned from reading Shakespeare just because we've become a society that is, in my opinion, by the majority, simply too stupid to understand him.

It's the other way around. You don't change a language unless there is reason for it. If you tried to present this to the American public, they would reject all of it out of hand. It is not because they are less evolved from ancient times, but because you would demand too many words and phrases in order to achieve the same objective... communicating your ideas to others.

One of the single most important rules in regards to a language: STATE YOUR IDEA IN AS FEW WORDS AS POSSIBLE.

I capitalized those words because they are the quint essential backbone to perfecting one's use of language. Shakespeare DOES NOT follow this rule to any degree. He may be good with words to strike an audience, but this had no practical application to a real language in society. I really don't think it is critical to learn the origins of a language so much via Shakespeare, but by tracing the origins of words to their place in history.

English has more resemblances to German than Spanish and French. You could trace its origins to MANY sources, but it is more important to know about how it had become like a 'Frenchified' product of a proto Germanic language after the Norman invasion. I find this more enlightening than the wording of one author.

Adavardes
04-07-2009, 12:55 AM
One of the single most important rules in regards to a language: STATE YOUR IDEA IN AS FEW WORDS AS POSSIBLE.

I capitalized those words because they are the quint essential backbone to perfecting one's use of language. Shakespeare DOES NOT follow this rule to any degree. He may be good with words to strike an audience, but this had no practical application to a real language in society. I really don't think it is critical to learn the origins of a language so much via Shakespeare, but by tracing the origins of words to their place in history.

That's not the objective of a good writer. It's the purpose of someone who wants to get a simple message across. A good writer wants to paint a picture with words, articulate emotions and create the precise combination of connotations in so eloquent and intricate a manner as to project their inner voice to the rest of the world, and share their vision. Writers are artists, they aren't mathematicians, so this attitude has no logical application to Shakespeare. He's important to learn, important to recognise and understand, because he was an artist. He was to words and language what Monet was to colour and visual expression. This isn't about teaching people practical applications of language, this is about teaching language arts. The art of using language in a way to express the individuality of your mind to those around you.

And this is about the sacrifice of the ability to make those articulations through language so that points can be made with an excessive amount of ease. The modern english language devalues the beauty of Shakespeare and glorifies the speed of "lol", or "omfg". Personally, I prefer Shakespeare.

Darth_Yuthura
04-07-2009, 01:12 AM
That's not the objective of a good writer. It's the purpose of someone who wants to get a simple message across. A good writer wants to paint a picture with words, articulate emotions and create the precise combination of connotations in so eloquent and intricate a manner as to project their inner voice to the rest of the world, and share their vision. Writers are artists, they aren't mathematicians, so this attitude has no logical application to Shakespeare. He's important to learn, important to recognise and understand, because he was an artist. He was to words and language what Monet was to colour and visual expression. This isn't about teaching people practical applications of language, this is about teaching language arts. The art of using language in a way to express the individuality of your mind to those around you.

And this is about the sacrifice of the ability to make those articulations through language so that points can be made easier. The modern english language devalues the beauty of Shakespeare and glorifies the speed of "lol", or "omfg". Personally, I prefer Shakespeare.

I'm not talking about writers; I'm talking about the use of language in society. If Shakespeare's style were used, you would be screaming for 'lol' and 'omfg' again because what you'd get is a whole lot of chaotic and illogical statements where you don't want them.

And I said 'State your idea in as few words as possible.' If you needed to go into greater detail than what your words covered, then your words didn't state your idea. That's what I mean; not condensing everything and detracting from what you want to communicate. There is no sense in having small, fragmented sentences when you could add a description and an action into a single sentence. That reduces the number of words and you communicate your idea much more effectively than before.

The problem is that actually condensing the use of words is difficult and takes practice, but it is the best way to speak/write. When you're writing for an audience, then the trick is to extend your ideas as much as possible as briefly as you can. If you need more detail, then that demands a greater number of words. It is not bound by simplicity, but the more simple you make your communication, the more effective you at delivering your message.

Tommycat
04-07-2009, 01:56 AM
I think of it like a tool in a mechanic's toolbox. You may not need it on a regular basis, but a VW Bug clutch alignment tool becomes invaluable when you need it. In order to understand some of modern literature you have to know some of the references. Even in movies, you'll occasionally run across a reference to Romeo and Juliette(Romeo must die being a major one of note). So having as much influence on the written and even screen made works, it is important to know where the works come from.

EnderWiggin
04-07-2009, 06:04 AM
One of the single most important rules in regards to a language: STATE YOUR IDEA IN AS FEW WORDS AS POSSIBLE.


<Snipped>

This is not the single most important rule in regards to a language. This is not even a rule at all.

_EW_

Tommycat
04-07-2009, 06:18 AM
I heard something similar to that with regards to essays.

It should be like a woman's skirt. Short enough to be exciting, but long enough to cover the subject.

Most literary works however do not follow this rule. It shouldn't. You have plenty of pages. With a play, you HAVE to tell your story to the audience.

Pavlos
04-07-2009, 06:19 AM
And I said 'State your idea in as few words as possible.' If you needed to go into greater detail than what your words covered, then your words didn't state your idea. That's what I mean; not condensing everything and detracting from what you want to communicate. There is no sense in having small, fragmented sentences when you could add a description and an action into a single sentence. That reduces the number of words and you communicate your idea much more effectively than before.
No... the objective of a good writer is to write exactly as he wants to. Who do you think said that brevity is the soul of wit, anyway?

Darth_Yuthura
04-07-2009, 08:29 AM
No... the objective of a good writer is to write exactly as he wants to.

So are you saying that writers don't follow any rules at all? They have to follow certain standards of a language, otherwise no one would take them seriously. You won't find a writer leaving useless content in a story because it dilutes the book/document. It is worthless wording that gets in the way. If you can't send your message, then you don't get your point across.

Who do you think said that brevity is the soul of wit, anyway?

Let me guess... Shakespeare? If so, he doesn't exactly do that very well. Concise means stating your idea and having it received by the reader/listener. Mark my words that you don't do that by using an excessive amount of useless words. Words get in the way and detract from the quality of writing.

When you want to state a complex idea or thought, that demands more words than a simple action; but if you simplify it too much, you no longer state your idea. If your idea is not stated, either you have too much noise(interference); you are using too many, too few, or are badly wording your message.

Samuel Dravis
04-07-2009, 11:10 AM
So are you saying that writers don't follow any rules at all? They have to follow certain standards of a language, otherwise no one would take them seriously. You won't find a writer leaving useless content in a story because it dilutes the book/document. It is worthless wording that gets in the way. If you can't send your message, then you don't get your point across.

When you want to state a complex idea or thought, that demands more words than a simple action; but if you simplify it too much, you no longer state your idea. If your idea is not stated, either you have too much noise(interference); you are using too many, too few, or are badly wording your message.I'm reading a book now, Ulysses by James Joyce. The author throws quite a few grammatical conventions out the window, drops verbs and is VERY wordy:

Mr Bloom stooped and turned over a piece of paper on the strand. He brought it near his eyes and peered. Letter? No can't read. Better go. Better. I'm tired to move. Page of an old copybook. All those holes and pebbles. Who could count them? Never know what you find. Bottle with a story of a treasure in it thrown from a wreck. Parcels post. Children always want to throw things into the sea. Trust? Bread cast on the waters. What's this? Bit of stick.

Now, I wonder: could he have written the same book without the "fluff" and with proper grammar, as you suggest he should have? Yes- in a sense. In any case, it might have the same characters' names, but the feel of the book would be completely different. It would also have been, in my opinion, extraordinarily boring.

The reason I decided to read Ulysses is because I loved the style. In fact, I had no idea what the story was supposed to be about when I heard of it; I had only read an essay and found discovered later that it was similar to Joyce's style.

Writing is not limited to conveying ideas, you know, and not everything that is necessary for a piece of literature serves to transmit one.

Adavardes
04-07-2009, 01:07 PM
Let me guess... Shakespeare? If so, he doesn't exactly do that very well. Concise means stating your idea and having it received by the reader/listener. Mark my words that you don't do that by using an excessive amount of useless words. Words get in the way and detract from the quality of writing.

Wrong. Let me give you an example.

"The tree had green leaves that moved in the wind."

It's as simple a message as can be written to convey that the tree has leaves, they are green, and they move in the wind. However, a writer could choose to say this instead:

"The tree held upon its branches a thousand emerald butterflies, each fluttering their delicate wings in rhythm with the unpredictable flow of the wind, proving order to chaos."

Are you really going to sit there and tell me that the former is better than the latter, simply because it uses fewer words?

Darth_Yuthura
04-07-2009, 01:21 PM
"The tree held upon its branches a thousand emerald butterflies, each fluttering their delicate wings in rhythm with the unpredictable flow of the wind, proving order to chaos."

Are you really going to sit there and tell me that the former is better than the latter, simply because it uses fewer words?

Very poetic and impressive; likely written by one who achieved a mastery of words.

This is not accurate to my argument, however. If this were to describe what the movement of leaves on a tree reminded a viewer of, then the subject would not be that the tree's leaves fluttered with the wind. One is a literal description where the other is how the leaves were perceived by the viewer/reader.

The ideas communicated in this and the first sentence are different.

Adavardes
04-07-2009, 01:41 PM
Very poetic and impressive; likely written by one who achieved a mastery of words.

This is not accurate to my argument, however. If this were to describe what the movement of leaves on a tree reminded a viewer of, then the subject would not be that the tree's leaves fluttered with the wind. One is a literal description where the other is how the leaves were perceived by the viewer/reader.

The ideas communicated in this and the first sentence are different.

Thank you for the compliment, and you're right, they are two different messages. One is a simple communication, the other is actual art. This is about whether or not Shakespeare matters, and he'll always matter, because his use of language as art is unprecedented. You said that "words get in the way and detract from the quality of writing", and that "useless content in a story dilutes the book/document". I feel that you couldn't be more wrong, and that the value of speed over beauty in modern society has caused a degradation of language as a whole.

Sabretooth
04-07-2009, 02:08 PM
One is a simple communication, the other is actual art.
I cannot agree with that. What makes the second sentence any greater than simple communication, or the first one not worthy of being called art? I myself find greater beauty in the first sentence than in the other, if only because it is less pretentious than the other.


You said that "words get in the way and detract from the quality of writing", and that "useless content in a story dilutes the book/document". I feel that you couldn't be more wrong, and that the value of speed over beauty in modern society has caused a degradation of language as a whole.
A people's language reflects their society, at least to some measure. If our English has degraded, it isn't because people got stupid.

The intricately-written English of the 19th Century and before comes from a time when the language was restricted to the British Isles, then spread to the America, followed by the British Colonies. In each of these places, English developed its own dialects that refused to form entirely different languages. To communicate effectively between these dozens of dialects that exist today, and to keep pace with the extremely fast-paced world of today, the English language has had to evolve into a more simplistic, "degraded" variant that favours function over style, speed over "beauty".

I agree with Darth Yuthura's general opinion that the more pertinent, the better (but I do not agree with any of her specific statements, I'm afraid). What is important first and foremost, is to get your message clear, your words across.

Writing is not limited to conveying ideas, you know, and not everything that is necessary for a piece of literature serves to transmit one.
I don't understand this at all. Every written word transmits some sort of an idea, so long as the word isn't made-up and unexplained. I can't think of any examples where writing doesn't transmit any idea whatsoever.

This is not accurate to my argument, however. If this were to describe what the movement of leaves on a tree reminded a viewer of, then the subject would not be that the tree's leaves fluttered with the wind. One is a literal description where the other is how the leaves were perceived by the viewer/reader.
She's right. Both sentences convey vastly different meaning, and these cannot be judged without context. I wouldn't even lay a concrete meaning on either sentence. The first sentence appears to be a literal description, but that may be how our protagonist or reader is intended to look at the tree; coldly and without any sense of beauty. The second sentence is more flowery, and it will be appropriate if our reader is supposed to contemplate the natural beauty of the tree, inappropriate if our reader is reading hardcore military fiction where said tree is spotted by a sniper robot.

Darth_Yuthura
04-07-2009, 03:46 PM
I don't want to keep backing something that has already been rejected, but I still am not sure that I properly communicated what I meant by 'as few words as possible.'

In order to keep your reader engaged, you cannot afford to needlessly add content where it is not needed. When you have something that you want to add a poetic description, then you do not detract from your writing; you enrich it. If you have double negatives, repetition, or a lack of vocabulary terms; you may force the reader to have to reread sentences that didn't make sense.

Example: "In all honesty, it's not an impossibility." vs. "It's possible."

Which is clearer to understand? This was unfair of me to use, but the first was meant to confuse the listener by adding more words than needed and throwing in more than one logical actuator. The second is straight forward, but has a different interpretation.

Example: "Shakespeare is the greatest writer in history. He's even better than Michael Criton."

You don't have to have 'He's even better than Michael Criton' because the first piece of the sentence already encompassed Criton. This is needless wording to achieve the same outcome.


Example: "Make sure to properly secure the solar filter to the telescope."
Example 2: "Looking at the sun through a telescope will burn your retinas. Make sure to properly secure the solar filter to the telescope."

Example two has more words for the same direction, but the additional words are to instill fear into the consequences of making a mistake. This is an example where you expand the idea or subject in order to enhance your message. The concern is not fitting the solar filter to a telescope... it's not damaging you eyes while looking at the sun.

I will go so far as to say that there are MANY situations where my advice can be challenged. It's meant to reduce the number of words you use in a language without changing the meaning of the subject you're trying to communicate. The same subject with a simpler sentence is usually the best because it is less likely to be misinterpreted.

Shakespeare often required me to go back and reread the same thing multiple times because I missed a logical operator (and, or, not) and it flipped the meaning completely. Wordy descriptions of a tree are not always great to have because we almost all know about what trees look like... a tropical tree might be different, though. The sample I saw actually was quite impressive, but it made a statement that made even a very simple thing very elaborate to think about.

Concise writing should be to essentially make your wording easy to understand... good vocabulary or technical terms are what writers often use to produce fewer, more concise terms than simple, lengthy descriptions... which are what I would expect from inexperienced writers.

One thing that I appreciate from very skilled writers is also the ability to essentially use a variety of words in context. Using the same grouping of words like 'he said' gets back to the repetition issue I've mentioned. I haven't read Shakespeare having this problem very much. I give him credit for that. A diverse vocabulary is essential to any kind of writer... occupational or artistic alike.

Samuel Dravis
04-07-2009, 11:48 PM
I don't understand this at all. Every written word transmits some sort of an idea, so long as the word isn't made-up and unexplained. I can't think of any examples where writing doesn't transmit any idea whatsoever.Just that some things necessary to a work of literature may not be the meaning of the words, but rather how the words are written. For example, Shakespeare uses iambic pentameter in his verse and his word choice reflects that ("Useless" words? I doubt it!). Following structured syllable patterns like this lends rhythmic qualities to the text, and may give other benefits as well; for example, a sudden change in meter can lend urgency, make the reader slow down while reading, or call attention to an important passage. Yes, Shakespeare could have written things differently, but if he did, it wouldn't have been an art form like the writings of his contemporaries. I wouldn't call these different structuring formats and effects ideas, but I would say they are an essential part of Shakespeare's texts.

Additionally, the format of the words can have an effect, such as if it were
f
a
l
l
i
n
g

down. See what I mean?

Part of the reason you're exposed to a lot of moldy old literature in school, I imagine, is because it shows you: words don't have to be merely information-transmittal devices. You can both play with language yourself and enjoy the spectacle of the masters doing so as well. Like I said about Joyce's Ulysses-- I love the feel of the book, the way it's written. The contents were never my main interest.

Jae Onasi
04-08-2009, 07:07 PM
But why do we need to know the progression of our mother tounge? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy things like tracing words to get as close to the source as possible, it's just that I don't see the point for every child to learn about that....I'm a bit curious of how learning an obsolete way of spelling improves the spelling of current english.When you sound some of the words out, it helps us understand why we spell things the way we do today. There were a few words from Beowulf and other very early English writers that look very strange until you sound them out--then I could see the pattern develop that turned it into the modern equivalent. I was able to apply those pattern to similar words, and it helped with spelling.

The reason why Shakespeare stays relevant is because his plays and poetry describe the human condition so well--love, betrayal, jealousy, honor, grief, courage, and so on. Those kinds of themes are timeless.
But shouldn't it be up to each person to decide wether or not they find it relevant? If it is as you say, plenty of people will read him anyway, the only difference is that people don't have to read him.
I think issues of life and death are rather relevant for all of us at some point, don't you? Shakespeare conveys a lot of insight on humanity in some very interesting plays and poetry. He's done it better than many other writers.

Shakespeare often required me to go back and reread the same thing multiple times because I missed a logical operator (and, or, not) and it flipped the meaning completely. Wordy descriptions of a tree are not always great to have because we almost all know about what trees look like... a tropical tree might be different, though. The sample I saw actually was quite impressive, but it made a statement that made even a very simple thing very elaborate to think about.It would have made more sense if we still spoke that way today. Once you've read several of his works, it flows more readily.

Concise writing should be to essentially make your wording easy to understand... good vocabulary or technical terms are what writers often use to produce fewer, more concise terms than simple, lengthy descriptions... which are what I would expect from inexperienced writers.This is what I expect from an inexperienced writer in creative writing. It's what I expect from an experienced non-fiction writer. The two are very different. In creative writing (which is what Shakespeare was doing), your goal is to allow the reader to experience the people and events in a play, story, or poem. One of the ways you do that is to be as descriptive as possible of the scene, the people, the events. That's what makes the story pop to life.

Concise is not equivalent to 'efficient'. I can make this statement more concise:

"The tree had green leaves that moved in the wind."
"The green tree leaves moved in the wind."
Neither are very artistic. In fact, both statements are rather boring to read.

Likewise, verbosity and flowery language does not make something poetic. One can use the language poetically and creatively, yet still be efficient.
"The tree held upon its branches a thousand emerald butterflies, each fluttering their delicate wings in rhythm with the unpredictable flow of the wind, proving order to chaos."
For instance:
"Thousands of emerald leaves perched on the tips of the tree branches, fluttering a delicate rhythm in the swirling wind."

The butterfly is implied with the perching and fluttering and the wing-like structure of many leaves. Rhythm automatically is a form of order, so 'proving order to chaos' becomes superfluous. Swirling winds are typically unpredictable flows of wind, so changing that phrase cut 2 words. I cut out just shy of 30% of the words without losing the meaning or the emotional tone. A poet probably could make it even more compact but just as poetic.

The entire feeling can also be changed by altering just a few words, and it'll become something entirely different:
"Thousands of dark green leaves gripped the ends of the tree branches, beating a martial cadence against the howling storm winds."

jrrtoken
04-08-2009, 07:43 PM
The butterfly is implied with the perching and fluttering and the wing-like structure of many leaves. Rhythm automatically is a form of order, so 'proving order to chaos' becomes superfluous. Swirling winds are typically unpredictable flows of wind, so changing that phrase cut 2 words. I cut out just shy of 30% of the words without losing the meaning or the emotional tone. A poet probably could make it even more compact but just as poetic.I don't believe that condensing an ideal into smaller units really enhances or clarifies the message within. In fact, I find that using as many adjectives as possible often enhances the message, especially with something extremely creative. To take a page from Jack Kerouac:The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh...Now, if you take out, let's say seven adjectives, for starters, would the message stay the same as the original? Using a multitude of varying terms not only gets the message across, but also creates a stylized pattern, a form of art, if you will.

Darth_Yuthura
04-08-2009, 07:58 PM
Why don't we speak that way today? There had to be a reason for that.

As suggested by an earlier post, there are multiple dialects that come from the same language in different regions of the world. In most cases, there is a greater benefit to a greater simplicity in language than making it more complex. English has so many rules in grammar and spelling that it is often considered the most difficult language to learn from scratch.

It may not be as 'artistic' as Shakespeare, but I often find the greatest thought-provoking works to be those where the elements of literature are clearly defined. With a vivid description and interesting characters... those you can associate with... the reader would be able to determine what's important and what's not. If something wasn't important enough to be remembered, then logically it shouldn't be a prominent feature of a fiction.

If you are trying to convey a thought to the reader, then there should be no difficulty in allowing the reader to understand the elements of the story. If it's difficult to put yourself in the mind of a certain character, then it would be difficult to understand why s/he would take a certain action. In my fiction 'Shrouded in Darkness,' through a first person perspective; I usually go about stating the elements of the story around Yuthura Ban and ultimately piecing those elements with her thoughts/beliefs. That allows for the reader to know why she acted, or why she thought someone else acted as they did.

I often can't associate with Shakespeare's characters, so I can't understand why Romeo would fall in love under such unbelievable circumstances. In the course of a play, the little details are sorely lacking; but you then can't make a play less than a day long to associate and care for the characters.

EnderWiggin
04-08-2009, 08:16 PM
I often can't associate with Shakespeare's characters

I don't think that's his fault.

_EW_

Jae Onasi
04-08-2009, 11:19 PM
I don't believe that condensing an ideal into smaller units really enhances or clarifies the message within. In fact, I find that using as many adjectives as possible often enhances the message, especially with something extremely creative. To take a page from Jack Kerouac:Now, if you take out, let's say seven adjectives, for starters, would the message stay the same as the original? Using a multitude of varying terms not only gets the message across, but also creates a stylized pattern, a form of art, if you will.

I was pointing out where he could achieve the same imagery more efficiently--all the images of the emerald leaves, trees, butterflies, chaos and order, and wind can get bombastic when it's overdone. Re-read Kerouac's sentence again--what are you seeing? Are you stopping in the middle of the sentence to read the words, or are you experiencing the moment that Kerouac's created for you? Does it use 'writerly' language or normal language? The only word in Kerouac's sentence that you might pause at is 'desirous' since we don't use that word very often in American English. His sentence construction helps with the flow with the staccato mad-mad-mad-mad--he has the right words, he also has put them in the right places.

Efficient does not mean 'short'. It means using the right word in the right place at the right time and no more than that. I don't think Kerouac could have made that sentence any more efficient and still have it mean the same--every single word is necessary to create the experience. There were words in Adavardes' and likely my creative attempts that weren't necessary or needed to be moved around or tweaked to give us more specific imagery and sensations for the reader to experience for ourselves, rather than 'telling us what the experience is'. However, that's why Kerouac's published and I'm not (but maybe one day....)

@Darth_Yuthura--the themes in Romeo and Juliet are repeated to this day. How happy are families when a person of one race marries a person of another, black/white, Hispanic/black, Hispanic/white, etc.? What happens when a conservative marries into a family of Communists, a Christian marries a Wiccan, a Muslim marries a Jew? Can you imagine what might happen if a Palestinian girl told her family she was in love with an Israeli boy that she had met at the local college or market? The two families might not go to open war these days (Palestinians and Israelis notwithstanding), but they might well have the same kind of seething hatred for the other family that you see in Romeo and Juliet, the kind that can poison the very children that they love and want the best for.

The little details that you feel are sorely lacking are often part of the set or costuming, or seen in the gestures and facial expressions that the actors would make, or even in their movements on stage and their interactions with different props. I would recommend watching Shakespeare instead of just reading his works--I think it'll make a lot more sense for you then. Plays are meant to be watched rather than read, ideally. I've read 'Much Ado About Nothing', which is funny, but it's even better on stage or on screen, not to mention any movie with Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Denzel Washington, Robert Sean Leonard, Kate Beckinsale, and Michael Keaton (who nearly stole the show with his crazy take on Dogberry) is fantastic.

Tommycat
04-09-2009, 12:44 AM
I often can't associate with Shakespeare's characters, so I can't understand why Romeo would fall in love under such unbelievable circumstances. In the course of a play, the little details are sorely lacking; but you then can't make a play less than a day long to associate and care for the characters.

If you can't understand why Romeo could fall for Juliette, then you have never been truly in love.

Perhaps a more modern interpretation would be to your liking. Try West Side Story. SAME story. Then there's the love story from Lord of the Rings. but that's not all. It flows through with many other modern stories. The geeky kid and the head cheerleader. the Jock and the brainy girl. It is a story told time and again. Two lovers who's lives are seperated by forces other than their own making. Heck a case could even be made for Anakin and Padme. She's a politician, He's a Jedi sworn to cast off all attachments.

Oh and Jae, you're late on the Israeli/Palestinian story. I present to you the Oscar Winning West Bank Story (http://www.westbankstory.com/)

Parallels with life are all around you. I fell in love with a girl from a wealthy family. Her family absolutely hated anything to do with the military. While our story didn't end in mutual death(at least I hope not, since I still seem to be here), the basic premise of the story is the same.

Darth Avlectus
04-12-2009, 05:13 AM
Using this image of Kenneth Branagh looking rather scared as inspiration, does Shakespeare matter to you? Do you think it should be taught in schools? Is he just pointlessly outdated, kept alive by a bunch of luvvies in large shirts?

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b73/Pavlos_1/Shakespeare.jpg

Famous because he's famous? You don't even have to say "Shakespeare's works" anymore, simply "Shakespeare" will do...

Well, now. This thread sure livened my day up. I hadn't been to kavar's for a bit.

I thought my entire high school education was as useless as turds in a crock pot. I'm glad to see I was wrong about that. In fact, now that I have read over many posts and taken certain considerations of similar analogies (I.E. points of cultural centrality as I learn japanese I.E. the symbolic meaning of the Samurai, etc.), I can honestly say, now, that my high school education was, in fact, a very rich one.

Shakespeare IMO cannot, and never will be able to be, *fully* appreciated in just a single subject of class (I.E. English). My experiences with it was in my particular high school's 'acting concepts 1-2' or simply 'basic drama'. I took the class because state curriculum required that I take either a year of fine arts or a foreign language. They didn't have Japanese or Chinese language available, so I took drama being that my father is a performer by trade.

Looking back, I see now that perhaps a very large factor into how I am capable of understanding, and leveling with, others, was this class. It helped me to be more palpable in my english papers later on with the ethos and pathos, though I preferred logos. It gave me ability and focus also to see into one-another's persona when I converse with him or her.
(Heheh. Palpable...palpatine? Fwo-ho-ho! I DO wonder!)

My drama class: we had to do quite a few Shakespeare related things if I do recall. Had to read all the plays, and the history of them and bits and chunks of shakespeare as a whole--probably not near as intensively, nor comprehensively, as some of you have had to do in english courses.

How would I describe it? Sort of like rolling up english, history, anthropology, psychology, speech, old fashioned visual effects, advertising, and perhaps some bits of science in there too, all in one. I don't know how else to describe the complexity of the "case study" assignment. (except huge and intimidating until you actually got into it). My impression: very few beatings on an intellectual level have I ever received. Of them, this has to be one of the most memorable, at least.
Another that rivals that in my educational experience is the book of:
Frederick Douglass: an American slave, a narrative written by himself. I swear, I never got such an ass-kicking in the reading department (and supposedly I'm a natural in reading and comprehension dept.)!

We also had to group up and reenact a play chosen. (My group chose Hamlet--only the bloodiest most violent one :)) I loved the part where I played the character talking about laced muttons, and getting all disgruntled and crawling around mimicking a lamb like I'd gone mad. I got quite a few laughs. At the very least you had to be able to act out multiple parts with a fair level of fluidity and believability, and cooperation with your team had to be enough for decent/average timing.

However, the all encompassing interactivity of it was something I'll never forget as long as I live. It is a standard in fact to which I apply and hold many things--often without even realizing it!!!

Ironic how you never think you have use for such things until you reexamine your life AFTER having experienced it.

As well, AP English classes in my high school specializing in british literature seemed to also have concurrently integrated itself with our class's material. So we were quite on the spot to make our stuff good for observation because another class depended upon it, somewhat. I'm not sure to what extent this actually goes, but a great deal of things is possible. Whether it is dual cooperative efforts, after school projects, correlative studies, or fun competitive exhibitions...is anyone's guess.

It was a major grade requirement for the first semester of that class in high school, whatever year you took it. The more advanced classes, you can bet, requiring even more Shakespeare.

Certainly, it set a precedent for other small memorable things in my life.
1) I became a famous guy in my high school's "Air Band" history, definitely in the school history books: nobody before had attempted and succeeded as I had in doing the badboy rock'n'roll routine and getting a HUGE popular response from the crowd. My acts were: Junior year: Kevin DuBrow with Quiet Riot, song "Cum on feel the noize!"; Senior year: Ozzy Osbourne in his band gone solo, song "Crazy Train".
2) Also, in various sword play I do, I seem to be relied upon quite a bit by whomever I am with to make a duel choreography "work" or "happen".
3) At nerd conventions with Star Wars themes and for a community college's anthropology meets or classes on Star Wars I occasionally would make appearances for 'lightsaber duels'.

mur'phon
04-12-2009, 03:01 PM
When you sound some of the words out, it helps us understand why we spell things the way we do today. There were a few words from Beowulf and other very early English writers that look very strange until you sound them out--then I could see the pattern develop that turned it into the modern equivalent. I was able to apply those pattern to similar words, and it helped with spelling.

If that is how Shakespare is taught in schools ( I have no experience with the american school system, and what I have of the British commes from my stay in South Africa), I have no problem with it. My experience however is that it doesen't happen, at least not in the Norwegian/South African system.

I think issues of life and death are rather relevant for all of us at some point, don't you?

Yes, but I prefer to deal with those through research, if Shakespare is usefull to some in that situation, give them pointers.

Shakespeare conveys a lot of insight on humanity in some very interesting plays and poetry.He's done it better than many other writers.

Agreed, though this effect is a bit reduced by his own succes, there are so much "plagiarized" from his work that most students have got much of the insight long before they are taught Shakespare.