Author Topic: Shakespeare  (Read 15361 times)

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Offline jochanaan

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #40 on: October 28, 2014, 07:01:31 AM »
(* chortle *)

And why should we all think the same?

jo, you're going to have to see for yourself  8)
Oh dear!  Another movie on my to-be-seen list that may already take me about a week of 24/7 watching!  :laugh:
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #41 on: October 28, 2014, 07:03:21 AM »
Mind you, I don't recommend it    0:)    8)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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Offline jochanaan

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #42 on: October 28, 2014, 07:15:02 AM »
Mind you, I don't recommend it    0:)    8)
Oh, I don't mind. :laugh:
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Offline Alberich

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #43 on: October 28, 2014, 07:42:47 AM »
Here's a shocker: there is much in King Lear that I hate. In fact, half of it. The main narrative concerning Lear, Goneril, Regan,Cordelia and Kent is at most parts bloody awful. Cordelia's character which almost every critic praises at first does a decent job with couple of witty lines but after she reappears on stage, the scene where she reunites with Lear, my God that is so unbearably sentimental, tastes like diabetes. And I have really hard time understanding how every critic seems to love and adore that scene as a crowning moment of heartwarming. That scene makes Dickens's most oversentimental pages seem like masterpieces in every letter and word. Victorian critics called Dickens's Little Nell the best female character in english literature since Cordelia. Well,modern critics usually prefer Cordelia. But I most certainly prefer Nell, as bland a character as she is, with comparison with that abominable creation that is Cordelia.

Lear himself is mostly pretty uninteresting. His ridiculous overreactions are about only thing interesting about him and even then I get the feeling it is supposed to be serious yet it seems like senile old man's ranting that is so over the top that it merely amuses. Shakespeare can be interpreted in many ways, though. I may have misinterpreted him in Lear's case who knows. Kent has similar overreactions particularly toward Oswald, who granted isn't the most affable of men,but Kent still seems like an overreacting ass in most cases instead of a "oh, thou, good Kent". Goddammit, I once again reminded myself of that awful.

Goneril and Regan are considerably better written characters but that is mostly because of their connections to side plot that I like much more, the one involving Edgar, Edmund and Gloucester. That is the good half in this play. And even that half is mostly good because of one character, Edmund. Gloucester and Edgar are certainly better characters than Lear, Kent and Cordelia but lot of their actions don't make much sense.

Edmund, although embraces the cliche of "bastard bastard" is given a good reason to be bitter. For ex. in the first scene Gloucester speaks about Edmund in contempt as his bastard son while Edmund is standing right next to him. Sure it still doesn't excuse the lengths to which Edmund goes in his search for power but as it it often the case with villains, I find him the most relatable character. In the end he even tries to make amends with his last breath, although unsuccessfully.

So yeah, not biggest fan of King Lear but it has it's good parts. So from all the plays of his that I've read, this is probably the worst. Take heed, I have read hardly a one third of all his plays as much as I love him. So even in that respect my word doesn't weigh much. Not that it does anyway. And while talking about ranting old man I ironically sound much like ranting young man.
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Offline Alberich

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #44 on: October 28, 2014, 07:57:18 AM »
My favorite plays from the bard?

Hamlet and Othello, I would count both of them as comedies as much as tragedies. Both are filled with hilarious dark humor such as Hamlet joking about that if they don't find Polonius's body soon enough they will smell him. Merchant of venice also counts as an awesome play, despite it's blatant racism but the genius of the play is that it can also be used (and has been) in defending Jews. Romeo and Juliet is good, but maybe little overrated. Macbeth is miraculous. The winter's tale, naturally, even if seacoast of Bohemia is bit ridiculous. Taming of a shrew is a problematic play in many ways but I would list it pretty high as well. Like Merchant, it can be played in defence of those that at first glance it seems to neglect. I also like much the one that has often been called Shakespeare's worst play: the two gentlemen of Verona. Okay, it is not his best play by a long shot but I like it still.
"I am a shadowy reflection of you."

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #45 on: October 28, 2014, 07:59:12 AM »
Here's a shocker: there is much in King Lear that I hate. In fact, half of it. The main narrative concerning Lear, Goneril, Regan,Cordelia and Kent is at most parts bloody awful. Cordelia's character which almost every critic praises at first does a decent job with couple of witty lines but after she reappears on stage, the scene where she reunites with Lear, my God that is so unbearably sentimental, tastes like diabetes. And I have really hard time understanding how every critic seems to love and adore that scene as a crowning moment of heartwarming. That scene makes Dickens's most oversentimental pages seem like masterpieces in every letter and word. Victorian critics called Dickens's Little Nell the best female character in english literature since Cordelia. Well,modern critics usually prefer Cordelia. But I most certainly prefer Nell, as bland a character as she is, with comparison with that abominable creation that is Cordelia.

Lear himself is mostly pretty uninteresting. His ridiculous overreactions are about only thing interesting about him and even then I get the feeling it is supposed to be serious yet it seems like senile old man's ranting that is so over the top that it merely amuses. Shakespeare can be interpreted in many ways, though. I may have misinterpreted him in Lear's case who knows. Kent has similar overreactions particularly toward Oswald, who granted isn't the most affable of men,but Kent still seems like an overreacting ass in most cases instead of a "oh, thou, good Kent". Goddammit, I once again reminded myself of that awful.

Goneril and Regan are considerably better written characters but that is mostly because of their connections to side plot that I like much more, the one involving Edgar, Edmund and Gloucester. That is the good half in this play. And even that half is mostly good because of one character, Edmund. Gloucester and Edgar are certainly better characters than Lear, Kent and Cordelia but lot of their actions don't make much sense.

Edmund, although embraces the cliche of "bastard bastard" is given a good reason to be bitter. For ex. in the first scene Gloucester speaks about Edmund in contempt as his bastard son while Edmund is standing right next to him. Sure it still doesn't excuse the lengths to which Edmund goes in his search for power but as it it often the case with villains, I find him the most relatable character. In the end he even tries to make amends with his last breath, although unsuccessfully.

So yeah, not biggest fan of King Lear but it has it's good parts. So from all the plays of his that I've read, this is probably the worst. Take heed, I have read hardly a one third of all his plays as much as I love him. So even in that respect my word doesn't weigh much. Not that it does anyway. And while talking about ranting old man I ironically sound much like ranting young man.
1 you are banished from polite society.
2 Welcome to the band of the banished! I soured on Lear long ago, after initially liking it. Some day we'll get together in a phone booth and discuss why Vanity Fair is unreadable.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #46 on: October 28, 2014, 08:16:25 AM »
I am not sure this qualifies as agreement, but I have not read Vanity Fair . . . .
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #47 on: October 28, 2014, 05:47:21 PM »
Regarding Shakespeare in Love: the ending is not so much a whimper as a cliche;  but I think everything leading up to the cliche is well worth watching.  Not a masterpiece but not a waste of time, either.

King Lear:  I thing the scene on the moor, with Lear, the Food and Edgar masked as Tom o Bedlam, are among the greatest passages in literature: three outcasts in the storm, one mad, one pretending to be mad, and the third sane but not exactly so.  I do see some justice in Alberich's strictures, but I think what we remember about Cordelia in the end is not Cordelia, but Lear's love for her in all its transformations of favoritism, unreasoned hate, and grief grounded in the knowledge that it was his own actions that led to his ruin and her death.

Hamlet: actually a failure.  Shakespeare, I think, wanted to write a revenge play (one of the most popular genres of the era), but tried to give the main characters psychological depth not usually found in that type of drama.  He did not succeed:  the characters do have psychological depth, but that depth ruins the revenge mechanism of the tragedy.

My preferences, often influenced by the sheer quality of the poetry to be found in the play
In the comedies, Love's Labor Lost and Much Ado about Nothing
In the histories,  Henry IV Part I and Henry V
In the tragedies,  Romeo and JulietAntony and Cleopatra, and Macbeth
In the romances (which sometimes are included among the comedies and sometimes seen as a separate category) A Winter's Tale and The Tempest
Most over rated play:  Hamlet, as may be inferred from my comment above
Most underrated play: Titus Andronicus, which is what happens when a genius makes his debut as director of a horror film (to refer it to modern film categories).
Greatest piece by Shakespeare that many people have never heard of, much less read: The Phoenix and the Turtle
Two best metaShakespearian films I've seen:  Theatre of Blood with Vincent Price and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with Richard Dreyfuss

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #48 on: October 28, 2014, 05:54:21 PM »
The Phoenix and the Turtle is short enough to post here.

[Turtle=turtledove]

The Phoenix and the Turtle

Let the bird of loudest lay,
 On the sole Arabian tree,
 Herald sad and trumpet be,
 To whose sound chaste wings obey.

But thou, shrieking harbinger,
 Foul pre-currer of the fiend,
 Augur of the fever's end,
 To this troop come thou not near.

From this session interdict
 Every fowl of tyrant wing,
 Save the eagle, feather'd king:
 Keep the obsequy so strict.

Let the priest in surplice white,
 That defunctive music can,
 Be the death-divining swan,
 Lest the requiem lack his right.

And thou, treble-dated crow,
 That thy sable gender mak'st
 With the breath thou giv'st and tak'st,
 'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.

Here the anthem doth commence:
 Love and constancy is dead;
 Phoenix and the turtle fled
 In a mutual flame from hence.

So they lov'd, as love in twain
 Had the essence but in one;
 Two distincts, division none:
 Number there in love was slain.

Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
 Distance, and no space was seen
 'Twixt the turtle and his queen;
 But in them it were a wonder.

So between them love did shine,
 That the turtle saw his right
 Flaming in the phoenix' sight:
 Either was the other's mine.

Property was thus appall'd,
 That the self was not the same;
 Single nature's double name
 Neither two nor one was call'd.

Reason, in itself confounded,
 Saw division grow together;
 To themselves yet either-neither,
 Simple were so well compounded

That it cried how true a twain
 Seemeth this concordant one!
 Love hath reason, reason none
 If what parts can so remain.

Whereupon it made this threne
 To the phoenix and the dove,
 Co-supreme and stars of love;
 As chorus to their tragic scene.

THRENOS.

Beauty, truth, and rarity.
 Grace in all simplicity,
 Here enclos'd in cinders lie.

Death is now the phoenix' nest;
 And the turtle's loyal breast
 To eternity doth rest,

Leaving no posterity:--
 'Twas not their infirmity,
 It was married chastity.

Truth may seem, but cannot be:
 Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
 Truth and beauty buried be.

To this urn let those repair
 That are either true or fair;
 For these dead birds sigh a prayer.

Ken B

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #49 on: October 28, 2014, 06:44:17 PM »
Regarding Shakespeare in Love: the ending is not so much a whimper as a cliche;  but I think everything leading up to the cliche is well worth watching.  Not a masterpiece but not a waste of time, either.

King Lear:  I thing the scene on the moor, with Lear, the Food and Edgar masked as Tom o Bedlam, are among the greatest passages in literature: three outcasts in the storm, one mad, one pretending to be mad, and the third sane but not exactly so.  I do see some justice in Alberich's strictures, but I think what we remember about Cordelia in the end is not Cordelia, but Lear's love for her in all its transformations of favoritism, unreasoned hate, and grief grounded in the knowledge that it was his own actions that led to his ruin and her death.

Hamlet: actually a failure.  Shakespeare, I think, wanted to write a revenge play (one of the most popular genres of the era), but tried to give the main characters psychological depth not usually found in that type of drama.  He did not succeed:  the characters do have psychological depth, but that depth ruins the revenge mechanism of the tragedy.

My preferences, often influenced by the sheer quality of the poetry to be found in the play
In the comedies, Love's Labor Lost and Much Ado about Nothing
In the histories,  Henry IV Part I and Henry V
In the tragedies,  Romeo and JulietAntony and Cleopatra, and Macbeth
In the romances (which sometimes are included among the comedies and sometimes seen as a separate category) A Winter's Tale and The Tempest
Most over rated play:  Hamlet, as may be inferred from my comment above
Most underrated play: Titus Andronicus, which is what happens when a genius makes his debut as director of a horror film (to refer it to modern film categories).
Greatest piece by Shakespeare that many people have never heard of, much less read: The Phoenix and the Turtle
Two best metaShakespearian films I've seen:  Theatre of Blood with Vincent Price and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with Richard Dreyfuss
I do hope you've seen the complete Works of William Shakespeare ,abridged.

Ken B

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #50 on: October 28, 2014, 06:47:18 PM »
The Phoenix and the Turtle is short enough to post here.

[Turtle=turtledove]

The Phoenix and the Turtle

Let the bird of loudest lay,
 On the sole Arabian tree,
 Herald sad and trumpet be,
 To whose sound chaste wings obey.

But thou, shrieking harbinger,
 Foul pre-currer of the fiend,
 Augur of the fever's end,
 To this troop come thou not near.

From this session interdict
 Every fowl of tyrant wing,
 Save the eagle, feather'd king:
 Keep the obsequy so strict.

Let the priest in surplice white,
 That defunctive music can,
 Be the death-divining swan,
 Lest the requiem lack his right.

And thou, treble-dated crow,
 That thy sable gender mak'st
 With the breath thou giv'st and tak'st,
 'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.

Here the anthem doth commence:
 Love and constancy is dead;
 Phoenix and the turtle fled
 In a mutual flame from hence.

So they lov'd, as love in twain
 Had the essence but in one;
 Two distincts, division none:
 Number there in love was slain.

Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
 Distance, and no space was seen
 'Twixt the turtle and his queen;
 But in them it were a wonder.

So between them love did shine,
 That the turtle saw his right
 Flaming in the phoenix' sight:
 Either was the other's mine.

Property was thus appall'd,
 That the self was not the same;
 Single nature's double name
 Neither two nor one was call'd.

Reason, in itself confounded,
 Saw division grow together;
 To themselves yet either-neither,
 Simple were so well compounded

That it cried how true a twain
 Seemeth this concordant one!
 Love hath reason, reason none
 If what parts can so remain.

Whereupon it made this threne
 To the phoenix and the dove,
 Co-supreme and stars of love;
 As chorus to their tragic scene.

THRENOS.

Beauty, truth, and rarity.
 Grace in all simplicity,
 Here enclos'd in cinders lie.

Death is now the phoenix' nest;
 And the turtle's loyal breast
 To eternity doth rest,

Leaving no posterity:--
 'Twas not their infirmity,
 It was married chastity.

Truth may seem, but cannot be:
 Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
 Truth and beauty buried be.

To this urn let those repair
 That are either true or fair;
 For these dead birds sigh a prayer.


Gotta say ... I prefer Milton, Donne, Blake. Even in the right mood Pope.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #51 on: October 28, 2014, 06:52:26 PM »
I do hope you've seen the complete Works of William Shakespeare ,abridged.

Unfortunately, I never had the time to do so.

Gotta say ... I prefer Milton, Donne, Blake. Even in the right mood Pope.


I said 'greatest piece by Shakespeare', not "greatest poem of all time".  I do admit I like the poem enormously, but I have a weakness for Elizabethan and Jacobean rhetoric,  which obviously is not shared by everyone.  It is in part an artifact of my major in BritLit back in college.

Offline Brian

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #52 on: October 28, 2014, 07:40:50 PM »
I'm afraid I don't understand your problem with Hamlet. If it's a failure to adhere to the constraints of the 'revenge play' formula, then it's all the better for those failures, no?

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead had Richard Dreyfuss? The actors I remembered were Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. (Oh...that's the exact same movie, never mind. Had all three of 'em.) Genius work, of course!

Your comments about Titus Andronicus also apply to The Shining.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #53 on: October 28, 2014, 08:09:34 PM »
I'm afraid I don't understand your problem with Hamlet. If it's a failure to adhere to the constraints of the 'revenge play' formula, then it's all the better for those failures, no?


Hamlet is in 3D.  Some of the others are 3D part of the time (Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, Ophelia) and revert to one dimensionality at other points.  The 3D characters just do not mesh with the rest, nor with the strict formula of the genre.  It is rather like finding a Faulkner character in a Danielle Steele potboiler.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #54 on: October 28, 2014, 08:14:15 PM »
I'm afraid I don't understand your problem with Hamlet. If it's a failure to adhere to the constraints of the 'revenge play' formula, then it's all the better for those failures, no?

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead had Richard Dreyfuss? The actors I remembered were Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. (Oh...that's the exact same movie, never mind. Had all three of 'em.) Genius work, of course!

Your comments about Titus Andronicus also apply to The Shining.

Speaking of Hamlet and making light of all previous comments:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/bKoq6ZdRxJc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/bKoq6ZdRxJc</a>
"I feel like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien. I cannot cast out the old way of writing and I cannot acquire the new. I have made an intense effort to feel the musical manner of today, but it will not come to me.” - Sergei Rachmaninov

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #55 on: October 29, 2014, 05:04:37 AM »
I'm enjoying the contrarian case!

In a sense I see the point of its failing, but even if so, there are some artistic failures so magnificent, they exceed many another artistic success.

(Wait a minute:  was that cheap?)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #56 on: October 29, 2014, 06:51:25 AM »
Hamlet is in 3D.  Some of the others are 3D part of the time (Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, Ophelia) and revert to one dimensionality at other points.  The 3D characters just do not mesh with the rest, nor with the strict formula of the genre.  It is rather like finding a Faulkner character in a Danielle Steele potboiler.

There are any number of works of literature in which some characters are more rounded than others. If every character is treated as foreground, then there is no background. Nor do I see Shakespeare as having been obligated to obey the "strict formula" of the revenge tragedy; if that's all he did, then why has Hamlet been esteeemed (by most people, except perhaps yourself and T.S. Eliot) as one of the crowning achievements of world literature?
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline North Star

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #57 on: October 29, 2014, 08:13:30 AM »
Hamlet: Too great, or not too great?
The answer is bloody obvious, of course.
"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." - Confucius

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #58 on: October 29, 2014, 08:24:07 AM »
Whether 'tis knobbier . . . .
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Alberich

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Re: Shakespeare
« Reply #59 on: October 29, 2014, 09:48:22 AM »
Am I only one who prefers Branagh's Hamlet flick to Laurence Olivier's? It helps that Branagh actually filmed pretty much every word of the play and goes so hilariously over-the-top in his acting that it is awesome to watch every second of it. I think it is the best Shakespeare film of all time.

I actually think Treasure of Sierra Madre should have won Best Picture academy award in 1948, as fine film as Olivier's Hamlet is.

1995 Othello although has huge chunks of the text removed, Kenneth Branagh as Iago still saves a lot. Some might say he likes to overact but it's not necessarily a bad thing IMHO. If only Branagh would have directed this, he would have probably included all the dialogue... Of many famous actors in Shakespeare films I actually prefer Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh to Laurence Olivier. Outrageous, I know.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 09:50:30 AM by Alberich »
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