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Old 02-28-2009, 03:18 AM   #1
Pavlos
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Does Shakespeare matter?

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 Is he just pointlessly outdated, kept alive by a bunch of luvvies in large shirts?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...


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Old 02-28-2009, 04:53 AM   #2
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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?


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Old 02-28-2009, 05:15 AM   #3
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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.






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Old 02-28-2009, 06:35 AM   #4
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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), 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.


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Old 02-28-2009, 08:59 AM   #5
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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.

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Old 03-01-2009, 08:00 PM   #6
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At the time in Highschool I hated Shakespeare, however, with hindsight, I think it defiantly should be taught, and that Shakespeare was a genius.



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Old 03-01-2009, 08:12 PM   #7
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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.



It is all that is left unsaid upon which tragedies are built.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:38 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 03-12-2009, 12:17 AM   #9
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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.


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Old 03-12-2009, 12:35 AM   #10
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@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.



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Old 03-12-2009, 12:48 AM   #11
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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


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Old 03-12-2009, 07:26 AM   #12
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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:

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And Kenneth Branagh? Pffffffft.
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Old 03-12-2009, 09:31 AM   #13
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Look what I found; http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/



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Old 03-12-2009, 11:08 AM   #14
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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.


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Old 03-12-2009, 12:39 PM   #15
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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 -

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.
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Old 03-12-2009, 12:58 PM   #16
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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. (an adaptation Macbeth)
Ms Yamada's portrayal of Lady Asaji Washizu is the most chilling 'Lady Macbeth' Ive ever seen.


Ran. 1985 (an adaptation of King Lear)


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Old 03-12-2009, 03:04 PM   #17
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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.



It is all that is left unsaid upon which tragedies are built.

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Old 03-12-2009, 03:08 PM   #18
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[IMO of course]

Kumonosu j [Throne of Blood] 1957. (an adaptation Macbeth)
Ms Yamada's portrayal of Lady Asaji Washizu is the most chilling 'Lady Macbeth' Ive ever seen.


Ran. 1985 (an adaptation of King Lear)


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 Not to mention their Shakespearen roots Agreed, WATCH THESE FILMS!!


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Old 04-01-2009, 12:52 AM   #19
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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.
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:15 AM   #20
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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.

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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?

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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.


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Old 04-01-2009, 01:16 AM   #21
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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.



It is all that is left unsaid upon which tragedies are built.
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Old 04-01-2009, 02:17 AM   #22
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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.
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Old 04-01-2009, 02:26 AM   #23
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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.


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Old 04-01-2009, 02:45 AM   #24
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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.
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Old 04-01-2009, 05:33 AM   #25
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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.

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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.
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Old 04-01-2009, 08:33 AM   #26
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I woke up late and I haven't had my morning cup of tea yet so this may not be entirely coherent...

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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.

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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...


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Old 04-05-2009, 06:09 PM   #27
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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 ****?
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:26 PM   #28
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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.

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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".

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:32 PM   #29
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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.



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Old 04-05-2009, 08:15 PM   #30
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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.


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Old 04-05-2009, 08:52 PM   #31
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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 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.


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Old 04-06-2009, 06:10 AM   #32
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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.

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--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.

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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.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:29 AM   #33
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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.


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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.

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Old 04-07-2009, 01:55 AM   #34
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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.



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Old 04-07-2009, 02:12 AM   #35
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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.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:56 AM   #36
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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.


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Old 04-07-2009, 07:04 AM   #37
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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_



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Old 04-07-2009, 07:18 AM   #38
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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.


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Old 04-07-2009, 07:19 AM   #39
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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?


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Old 04-07-2009, 09:29 AM   #40
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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.

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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.
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