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  #1  
Old 05-11-2019, 05:43 PM
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What's the Big Deal About Shakespeare?


Even to this day he seems to have an almost godlike status in literature. But why?

William Shakespeare.

I must say I find his quotes rather flowery and perhaps concise at times. But he doesn't impress me at least anymore than many other authors, esp. of that time.

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Old 05-11-2019, 05:51 PM
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Yeah! All his plays are just a bunch of famous quotes strung together! What's with that?
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:05 PM
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Yeah! All his plays are just a bunch of famous quotes strung together! What's with that?
Heh heh
All his word are plays...
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:07 PM
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"...I should like to salute William Shakespeare.
In this language he's called Willie the Shake.

You know why they called him Willie the Shake?
Because he shook everybody.
They give him a nickel's worth of ink and five cents worth of paper,
he sat down, wrote up such a breeze, brrt, that's all there was, Jack, there was no more.
That's all she wrote! Ever'body got off!

Got so many studs arguin' about findin' about who he was
they blew his right name.

Understand what I mean?

Here's a stud that's so powerful and so great
they dig him up every six months, say,
"Yeah, dat's him, put him back. He's alright....
"

--Lord Buckley, excerpted from Willie The Shake


ETA: I thought Mr. Shakespeare did an excellent job helping to write Forbidden Planet (1956).

Last edited by Dropo; 05-11-2019 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:18 PM
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I guess you really hate Shakespeare.

Shakespeare has never been topped as entire package: great use of language, strong and memorable characters, psychologically astute characterizations, and stories that still are relevant today. He went beyond what any other writer has ever achieved.

The main reason he's still being performed today is that people see the universality of his plays and characters.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:22 PM
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The scholar Harold Bloom famously claimed that Shakespeare did no less than inventing our conception of what it is to be human:

Quote:
... When Bloom claims that Shakespeare invented the human, however, he doesn't merely mean that he pioneered these psychological fields in literature before they became established in what gradually became our modern disciplines. According to Bloom, Shakespeare-especially in his creation of Falstaff and Hamlet-so utterly altered human consciousness that after him the world was a different place and we were different creatures. ...

...Bloom claims that if Shakespeare had died at twenty-nine, like his friend Christopher Marlowe, the world would be a different place: "we would be very different, because we would think and feel and speak differently. Our ideas would be different, particularly our ideas of the human, since they were, more often than not, Shakespeare's ideas before they were our own."
http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR24.1/atwan.html

A sweeping claim. But the book expressing it was a best-seller, and its theories widely accepted by many.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:32 PM
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The scholar Harold Bloom famously claimed that Shakespeare did no less than inventing our conception of what it is to be human:

Quote:
... When Bloom claims that Shakespeare invented the human, however, he doesn't merely mean that he pioneered these psychological fields in literature before they became established in what gradually became our modern disciplines. According to Bloom, Shakespeare-especially in his creation of Falstaff and Hamlet-so utterly altered human consciousness that after him the world was a different place and we were different creatures. ...

...Bloom claims that if Shakespeare had died at twenty-nine, like his friend Christopher Marlowe, the world would be a different place: "we would be very different, because we would think and feel and speak differently. Our ideas would be different, particularly our ideas of the human, since they were, more often than not, Shakespeare's ideas before they were our own."
http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR24.1/atwan.html

A sweeping claim. But the book expressing it was a best-seller, and its theories widely accepted by many.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:40 PM
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duplicate

Last edited by Sherrerd; 05-11-2019 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:46 PM
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Apologies for the unintentional triplicate post.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:54 PM
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Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in these petty posts from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time...
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:55 PM
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Too good, silenus!!!
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:00 PM
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The scholar Harold Bloom famously claimed that Shakespeare did no less than inventing our conception of what it is to be human:

http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR24.1/atwan.html

A sweeping claim. But the book expressing it was a best-seller, and its theories widely accepted by many.
Yup, if Shakespeare had died as a child, nobody today would know who the fuck they are. Sounds about right. I probably would mistake myself for a camel or something.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:06 PM
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What a piece of work is Jim B....
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:09 PM
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...and what to me is Two Many Cats, — this quintessence of dust?
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:11 PM
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OP, Have you mainly read Shakespeare or have you seen a play or a film of a play? On the printed page much is lost. I can read the plays now because I have seen them performed and can visualize. You might try renting a film version of Julius Caesar (with Marlon Brando maybe?) or Hamlet or MacBeth. Then you might begin to get it.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:18 PM
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The comedies will snap yer stix. My favorites are As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing.. Everyone seems to love the 1993 movie of the latter, with young Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson as Benedick and Beatrice.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:19 PM
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But he doesn't impress me at least anymore than many other authors, esp. of that time.
Just out of curiosity what other authors "of that time" do you consider just as good? And please don't say Edward de Vere .

Last edited by Tamerlane; 05-11-2019 at 07:20 PM.
  #18  
Old 05-11-2019, 07:23 PM
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Yup, if Shakespeare had died as a child, nobody today would know who the fuck they are. Sounds about right. I probably would mistake myself for a camel or something.
"What it is to be human" isn't the same thing as "human as compared with other animals."

Bloom's theory isn't everyone's cup of tea, of course. But it was influential, nonetheless:

Quote:
... [Bloom] acknowledges that there were great, creative writers before Shakespeare; indeed, "The idea of Western character" defined as "the self as a moral agent" came from many sources. But, he contends, die predecessors created "cartoons" and "ideograms" rather than developing personality. " ...
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/459905

Quote:
... Bloom argues that no author rivals Shakespeare in the creation of personality, that Shakespeare went beyond all precedents and "invented the human as we continue to know it." According to Bloom, Shakespeare not only invented the English language but also created the concept of human nature as we know it today-before Shakespeare there was "characterization," and after, there were "characters," men and women capable of change, with highly individual personalities. ...
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf...74370004500911
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:26 PM
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I hated Shakespeare when in high school. I too wondered what was the big deal. We were poorly taught, only reading the plays, not even out loud. Never saw a performance. One teacher wanted to take us to see the 1968. Whiting/Hussey version, and some parents nixed it because of a brief flash of Romeos butt, and a one-half second flash of Juliets breast.

Then I was house sitting for my grandmother, and for whatever reason sat to watch the BBC production of Measure for Measure. I had never known the plays could be funny, that one could laugh so hard. This is the play that should be used to hook high schoolers. It has illicit sex, trash talk, hidden identities, bad government officials, and, at the end true love and a happy ending! Then I read/viewed other comedies, and re-read the tragedies from high school, gaining a new appreciation for the universal themes they have. Now I love Shakespeare.
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Last edited by Baker; 05-11-2019 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:32 PM
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As Dr. Porter put it:

Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:33 PM
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...and what to me is Two Many Cats, ó this quintessence of dust?
Not that much dust. It's mostly cat hair.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:55 PM
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Did Harold Bloom explicitly say in his book that all non-European cultures didn't know what it was like to be human before they were finally exposed to Shakespeare, or was he just oblivious to the racism of his claim?
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:01 PM
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and for fans of 'Authorship' controversies, Shakespeare may not even have been a man...
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:21 PM
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I get it. It's basically the same thing some people say about Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz, or for that matter, a DC-3. Shakespeare can seem not all that, because we aren't grasping that he invented (or at least he was the first one to synthesize) everything we're comparing him with.

Jim B. may I suggest this 1996 version of Romeo & Juliet which uses Shakespeare's dialog, but in a contemporary setting. The movie seems digitally sped up to me, but even if you only click on random spots, you might have a better appreciation of the Bard.

Last edited by Kent Clark; 05-11-2019 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:23 PM
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Did Harold Bloom explicitly say in his book that all non-European cultures didn't know what it was like to be human before they were finally exposed to Shakespeare, or was he just oblivious to the racism of his claim?
Look deeper into Bloomís work than a post on a message board.

I studied under him thirty-some years ago at Yale, along with the other original Deconstructionists. The man has many failings...personal grooming and hygiene in particular...but racism is not one of them. He was particularly adept with Chinese poetics.
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:48 PM
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I get it. It's basically the same thing some people say about Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz, or for that matter, a DC-3. Shakespeare can seem not all that, because we aren't grasping that he invented (or at least he was the first one to synthesize) everything we're comparing him with.

Jim B. may I suggest this 1996 version of Romeo & Juliet which uses Shakespeare's dialog, but in a contemporary setting. The movie seems digitally sped up to me, but even if you only click on random spots, you might have a better appreciation of the Bard.
Or the Josh Whedon directed Much Ado About Nothing, which I happened to catch yesterday while channel surfing. I've tried to watch other versions of the play before but didn't have the patience for it. This time it was easier to follow the action. The contemporary setting really gives you a better feel for the dialog.
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Old 05-11-2019, 10:12 PM
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The comedies will snap yer stix. My favorites are As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing.. Everyone seems to love the 1993 movie of the latter, with young Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson as Benedick and Beatrice.
Love love love this one. I've watched it over and over. Branagh has a way of speaking Shakespearean dialogue that makes it sound like contemporary conversation.
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Old 05-11-2019, 10:17 PM
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I dunno; "nobody can be truly human without Shakespeare" sure strikes me as racist. And absurd on many other grounds, too. How does he account for the fact that in other languages, other authors are the Greatest of All Time? Are Spanish-speaking humans a different species, because they're shaped by Cervantes instead of Shakespeare?
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Old 05-11-2019, 10:48 PM
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Old 05-11-2019, 10:58 PM
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It’s like Mr. Natural said to the lady in the flower pot hat: “If you don’t know by now, lady, don’t mess with it!”

http://pixdaus.com/mister-natural-by...s/view/302192/

Last edited by Labdad; 05-11-2019 at 11:02 PM. Reason: Missed edit window
  #31  
Old 05-12-2019, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B.
But he doesn't impress me at least anymore than many other authors, esp. of that time.
Just out of curiosity what other authors "of that time" do you consider just as good? And please don't say Edward de Vere .
When you quoted Jim B, you left out the "" at the end of the OP.

It's clearly a comical dismissal of Shakespeare as the author of the works attributed to him. It is not meant to be taken seriously.
Look at this superficially nonsensical sentence: "I must say I find his quotes rather flowery and perhaps concise at times."
Not his writing but his quotes? Rather flowery?? Perhaps concise???
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Old 05-12-2019, 08:10 AM
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The scholar Harold Bloom famously claimed that Shakespeare did no less than inventing our conception of what it is to be human:
Quote:
... When Bloom claims that Shakespeare invented the human, however, he doesn't merely mean that he pioneered these psychological fields in literature before they became established in what gradually became our modern disciplines. According to Bloom, Shakespeare-especially in his creation of Falstaff and Hamlet-so utterly altered human consciousness that after him the world was a different place and we were different creatures. ...

...Bloom claims that if Shakespeare had died at twenty-nine, like his friend Christopher Marlowe, the world would be a different place: "we would be very different, because we would think and feel and speak differently. Our ideas would be different, particularly our ideas of the human, since they were, more often than not, Shakespeare's ideas before they were our own."
http://bostonreview.net/archives/BR24.1/atwan.html

A sweeping claim.
I'll say. Imagine if he had read it
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:26 AM
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I dunno; "nobody can be truly human without Shakespeare" sure strikes me as racist. And absurd on many other grounds, too. How does he account for the fact that in other languages, other authors are the Greatest of All Time? Are Spanish-speaking humans a different species, because they're shaped by Cervantes instead of Shakespeare?
I was thinking about this yesterday. Shakespeare really does have a pan-national appeal. Richard Wagner made the whole family sit around and read the plays out loud in the evenings, they are performed in French, Spanish, in the Far East.

You don’t see a lot of English or Americans quoting Moliere or Goethe on a regular basis, but there’s a general feeling around the world that knowing Shakespeare is a Good Thing.
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:53 AM
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In addition to the other reasons given, Shakespeare was the dividing line between Middle and Modern English. Not saying he caused the shift, he just happens to be the best-known writer from the period when it happened.

He and Richard Burbage were also the first showmen to charge a fixed gate price for admission. Prior to them, admission was free and the players would pass the hat and basically worked as buskers or for tips. The Globe invented the modern practice that allows actors to get fairly and regularly paid. This, according to Bernie Sahlins of Second City.
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Old 05-12-2019, 12:40 PM
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I dunno; "nobody can be truly human without Shakespeare" sure strikes me as racist. And absurd on many other grounds, too. How does he account for the fact that in other languages, other authors are the Greatest of All Time? Are Spanish-speaking humans a different species, because they're shaped by Cervantes instead of Shakespeare?
"Nobody can be truly human without Shakespeare," is not remotely the same as, "Shakespeare shaped our conception of what it means to be human."

I've only read excerpts from Bloom's work, and that was a while ago, so I can't comment directly on his arguments. But the idea that a particular artist or philosopher shaped the popular conception of what it means to be human should not be controversial in general. If you ask your average American "What does it mean to be human," you'll likely get something that contains a vague regurgitation of the concept of natural rights. These ideas can be traced back to a few specific writers. It's fair to say that those writers influenced the concept of what it means to be human, at least in Western culture. If you ask your average Chinese citizen the same question, you probably don't get as much Thomas Jefferson in the response.

What sets Shakespeare apart is that he's universal. Sure, Spanish culture was shaped by Cervantes. But it was also shaped by Shakespeare, and arguably to a greater extent than non-Spanish cultures have been shaped by Cervantes. And the same is true for culture after culture - outside of English speaking cultures, Shakespeare is seldom the most important writer, but he's always an important writer. I don't know that that necessarily equates to, "Shakespeare shaped the global conception of what it means to be human," but the basic concept that one person's ideas can be so powerful and persuasive that they're adapted by people from every race and culture is pretty much the direct opposite of racist.
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Old 05-12-2019, 12:46 PM
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in one of the Star Trek movies a Klingon said he liked to read the plays in the original Klingon. I think that was movie #6 , the last one with the full original Trek cast.
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Old 05-12-2019, 01:04 PM
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Just out of curiosity what other authors "of that time" do you consider just as good? And please don't say Edward de Vere .
I just remember that there was some author he was a competitor with at the time that sounded similar to me at least.

I don't have time to look it up now. Also I will have to wait till I'm on PC, which may not be for a couple of days.
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Old 05-12-2019, 01:41 PM
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The take from QI needs to be seen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMUNqnKOJpQ

https://www.comedy.co.uk/tv/qi/episodes/2012/1/
Quote:
- The thing that Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, a loony from Newcastle and the Holy Ghost all have in common is that they did not believe that the plays of Shakespeare were written by Shakespeare himself. Professor Looney wrote a book in 1920 called Shakespeare Identified in which he claimed this. The Shakespearean sceptic movement began in the 19th century, with some people claiming that the plays may have been written by Francis Bacon.

An insane American woman called Delia Bacon wrote a 625 page book claiming Shakespeare did not write the plays, but made no reference to Francis Bacon. When she died she claimed she was the Holy Ghost. Other candidates for the authorship include Christopher Marlowe and the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Freud had an Oedipus complex theory about Hamlet. Looney claimed that after the Earl's death in 1604 (at which point Shakespeare was still alive) he left lots of plays which his servant Shakespeare then produced.

More modern sceptics include Mark Rylance and Derek Jacobi. There is however no real evidence to support the sceptics claims. While sceptics claim we know little about Shakespeare, we are also very few Elizabethan people we know more about.
Upon hearing about how a lot of the authorship "controversy" is about the idea that Shakespeare was not a noble man and not a member of the elite, as if that was a reason to deny that a middle class person could achieve a lot or write so well about nobility, David Mitchell replied:

"[Shakespeare] did go exactly as far up the society as you would expect a mayor writer to be [back then], it is not like if now the best novels are written by the Duke of Westminster..."

Last edited by GIGObuster; 05-12-2019 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 05-12-2019, 03:26 PM
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Just out of curiosity what other authors "of that time" do you consider just as good? And please don't say Edward de Vere .
I think The Revenger's Tragedy, attributed to Thomas Middleton, is just as good as anything Willy S. wrote. I have not read or seen any stage/film version of The Changeling, credited to Mr. Middleton and William Rowley, but according to Wikipedia, it is "widely regarded as being among the best tragedies of the English Renaissance...." Based largely on my ignorance, it seems like Mr. Middleton was every bit as talented and prolific as Willy S., though perhaps not as consistently first-rate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Middleton
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Old 05-12-2019, 04:53 PM
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I was in a production of Middleton’s Women Beware Women at the Yale Dramat back in 1980, directed by George Roy Hill (the Hollywood guy who directed Butch Cassidy and The Sting). I didn’t think the play was any great shakes.

I like John Webster, particularly The Duchess of Malfi.
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Old 05-12-2019, 05:01 PM
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in one of the Star Trek movies a Klingon said he liked to read the plays in the original Klingon. I think that was movie #6 , the last one with the full original Trek cast.
Yes, it was in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. That quote ("You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon") was from Chancellor Gorkon (played by David Warner); the character of General Chang (played by Christopher Plummer) quoted Shakespeare throughout the film. Both of the actors regularly performed on stage in Shakespearean plays, which I suspect was part of the humor of it. And, I believe that Plummer and Shatner were contemporaries at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario in the 1950s.

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Old 05-12-2019, 05:18 PM
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I was thinking about this yesterday. Shakespeare really does have a pan-national appeal. Richard Wagner made the whole family sit around and read the plays out loud in the evenings, they are performed in French, Spanish, in the Far East.

You donít see a lot of English or Americans quoting Moliere or Goethe on a regular basis, but thereís a general feeling around the world that knowing Shakespeare is a Good Thing.
National pride is a powerful force, but sometimes the ideas of some particular member of some particular nationality are simply too good to be ignored by members of other nationalities.

Proud peoples from places other than the Arab world have been using the zero for centuries despite its Arabian origins; proud peoples from places other than China have benefited from the use of paper for, again, centuries; proud people of non-European origin who make (or care about) music have been greatly influenced for three hundred years by the work of the German J.S. Bach and his peers and successors; people from Asia and Africa have embraced the Internet despite not having invented it; and so on.

Greek myths have traveled the world and been massively influential; so have the ideas of Mohandas K Gandhi. Sometimes these things catch on. Racism isn't really anything to do with it. Is it racist to say that the idea of peaceful resistance being unusually powerful as a change agent, is universal? Ask that guy in Tiananmen Square.
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Old 05-12-2019, 05:45 PM
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OK, maybe Middleton and Rowley wrote a couple of the best plays of their age. Shakespeare wrote over thirty of them.
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:41 PM
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Sherrerd @42:. I like the cut of your jib and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Yes, zeroes and paper are good. And Bach took everyone’s clavier and tempered it well.
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Last edited by Ukulele Ike; 05-12-2019 at 09:44 PM. Reason: Bach’s lunch
  #45  
Old 05-13-2019, 06:28 AM
Gyrate is offline
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What's the big deal about Shakespeare? To paraphrase the late Frank Carson, it's the way he told 'em. Shakespeare shamelessly borrowed stories from other sources (sometimes multiple sources, real and fictional, stitched together) but told them in language that few have been able to match. One can find earlier versions of the same stories by other authors, but there's a reason Shakespeare's versions have stuck and the others have faded into distant memory.

In addition, he was (as noted) the right man at the right time and the right place to achieve a maximum impact on the English language and cultural heritage, and our language is thus filled with words and phrases he coined. In fact there are over 1700 of them, which one could argue is "too much of a good thing". Including that one.

You don't have to like Shakespeare, and not everything he wrote was a winner, but the man had a way with words that few in history have matched.
  #46  
Old 05-13-2019, 08:34 AM
Annie-Xmas is offline
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The fact that we're still putting on Shakespeare's plays and discussing them over 500 years later says it all. Has there ever been a time when a Shakespeare play wasn't being produced somewhere?

I would love to bring the man to the modern day, just to see the look on his face when he realized his works were still popular. It would blow him away.

And when you're talking about works that just "strung a bunch of cliches together" surely you must include Airplane.
  #47  
Old 05-14-2019, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by GIGObuster View Post
Upon hearing about how a lot of the authorship "controversy" is about the idea that Shakespeare was not a noble man and not a member of the elite, as if that was a reason to deny that a middle class person could achieve a lot or write so well about nobility, David Mitchell replied:

"[Shakespeare] did go exactly as far up the society as you would expect a mayor writer to be [back then], it is not like if now the best novels are written by the Duke of Westminster..."
Yeah, I'd put Neil Gaiman, staunchly middle-class, or JK Rowling, a product of the working/lower middle class, against any toffs from Oxford (who mainly excel at non-fiction, IMO). Who are the best British upper-class writers of fiction today?
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:28 AM
Gyrate is offline
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Yeah, I'd put Neil Gaiman, staunchly middle-class, or JK Rowling, a product of the working/lower middle class, against any toffs from Oxford (who mainly excel at non-fiction, IMO). Who are the best British upper-class writers of fiction today?
Jilly Cooper?

The aristos tend to go for non-fiction (see Antonia Fraser and her daughter Flora, for example) in part because they often have unfettered access to private archives for source material and in part because history and biography are much more respectable than fiction.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
The fact that we're still putting on Shakespeare's plays and discussing them over 500 years later says it all.
Do we finally have flying cars?
  #50  
Old 05-14-2019, 05:03 PM
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Shakespeare fans are much like a cult.
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