I'm tired of hearing how glorious the language is. I'm sure actors get their jollies saying all that la-di-da gobbletygook, but I find it tiresome to wait 3 paragraphs for someone to get to the point.
I'm not a Philistine; I just think that stuff should be left back in the Dark Ages. We talk better now.
We're adults here - use your fucking words.
I hate to say it OP but I agree. The language is too hard to decipher many times. I remember reading it and thinking "what the hell did they just say?".
If you think Shakespeare was writing in the Dark Ages, you may just be a philistine.
Oh, but you are a Philistine, not for hating Shakespeare but for holding out brevity and end result as always the ideal, and for ignoring the prospect of any pleasure or nuance along the way.
Please don't hate him because of your short attention span. He basically gave you the language you take for granted. It's like telling the father who housed, clothed and fed you to go fuck himself and leave home without a dime in your pocket.
Upon my introduction during high school to his works, I often had problems unraveling the language. Better was to see a play performed and then study the text, as then the context and plot would key me into the words, and then better appreciate them as written.
"We talk better now"
I love r4
[quote] I'm not a Philistine
But you are, Blanche. You are!
1) Shakespeare's work is not from the "Dark Ages," toots.
2) His plays are perfectly easy to understand for any literate person with comprehension skills beyond the 8th grade.
3) Your statement that we "talk better now" is a true example of irony, though. I'll let you ponder why.
Now get back to your Twilight books.
Tolstoy agreed with you, OP.
He was a harsh critic of Shakespeare, calling him overrated, arguing that everyone in his plays spoke the same and none of the characters sounded anything like real people, which are two of the primary demands of drama: different characters should sound different and there should be some sort of illusion that there's a convincing reality on stage. Tolstoy then went off in a weird direction and said that the theater should be religious (?!) but it's an interesting read nonetheless. And I imagine it would be a great solace to those who don't like Shakespeare to not feel so alone or anti-intellectual. Tolstoy felt the same way.
: "I remember the astonishment I felt when I first read Shakespeare. I expected to receive a powerful esthetic pleasure, but having read, one after the other, works regarded as his best: "King Lear," "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet" and "Macbeth," not only did I feel no delight, but I felt an irresistible repulsion and tedium... Several times I read the dramas and the comedies and historical plays, and I invariably underwent the same feelings: repulsion, weariness, and bewilderment. At the present time, before writing this preface, being desirous once more to test myself, I have, as an old man of seventy-five, again read the whole of Shakespeare, including the historical plays, the "Henrys," "Troilus and Cressida," "The Tempest", "Cymbeline", and I have felt, with even greater force, the same feelings,—this time, however, not of bewilderment, but of firm, indubitable conviction that the unquestionable glory of a great genius which Shakespeare enjoys, and which compels writers of our time to imitate him and readers and spectators to discover in him non-existent merits,—thereby distorting their esthetic and ethical understanding,—is a great evil, as is every untruth." Tolstoy on Shakespeare
Tolstoy was reading Russian translations of Shakespeare - hence, his bafflement. It's like reading Pushkin in English.
It's all about the translation kids.
R10, Tolstoy did not agree with the OP. He did not endorse the "we talk better now" view at all.
Many writers who started the natural language movement in theater or pushed it forward -- Ibsen, Strindberg, O'Neill, Chekhov -- made important contributions to art.
Defending modern parlance with the opening line "I f*cking hate Shakespeare" immediately undercuts the point so severely that I have no doubt if Tolstoy were asked, he would say "Please do not compare me to that dolt."
[quote]everyone in his plays spoke the same and none of the characters sounded anything like real people
1 - Not everyone does speak the same in Shakespeare. Servants spoke in prose while everyone else speaks in couplet.
2 - Unless he had a time machine that brought him back 400 or so years, saying they did not sound like real people is a pretty ignorant thing to claim.
[quote] He was a harsh critic of Shakespeare, calling him overrated, arguing that everyone in his plays spoke the same and none of the characters sounded anything like real people, which are two of the primary demands of drama: different characters should sound different and there should be some sort of illusion that there's a convincing reality on stage.
I'd argue that even the grittiest kitchen sink sorts of dramas make ample use of artifice. Drama asks an audience to accept the stage, which is not an easy thing. Watching an audience react as a play gets underway, you can gauge on each face the critical moment at which they are won over and "buy in" (or sometimes don't). Heightening the artifice level or the level of difficulty of language is not itself a recipe for failure.
You're a philistine, darlin'.
[quote]Tolstoy was reading Russian translations of Shakespeare
Uh, Tolstoy read Shakespeare in the original English, dear. Have you read his essay? Perhaps you should read it before formulating a response.
[quote]Tolstoy did not agree with the OP
He very much agreed with the general thrust of OP's post, if not the odd "we talk better now" assertion at the end.
[quote]I have no doubt if Tolstoy were asked
Speculating about how Tolstoy might or might not have responded to you does little to prove a point. His very real existent essay is quite plainly critical of Shakespeare and the intellectuals who praised him so effusively. It's very much in line with what OP said.
OP r16? You mean Pol Pot?
Shakespeare wrote his plays as mass entertainment.
The language was accessible to the people at the time = many in the audience were probably illiterate.
The themes of some of his plays are profound and universal. They are not obscure.
That's funny, OP, because at the time Shakespeare was alive, he appealed to the less-educated, typically poor and blood-lust loving lower classes. Who up to this point I always thought may have been the stupidest people in any one time or place to exist.
Then you started this thread, and I realize that the poor and ignorant disease-riddled common folk of the 1500's are a hell of a lot more intelligent than you.
Thanks for proving your stupidity, OP. Now go watch Real Housewives of Who Gives a Flying Fuck.
OP=22 year old twink, picking coke boogers out of his nose this am while putting on his clothes and taking a cab from some whore's hovel.
R10 / R16, you're not even close. You need to give this one up.
Tolstoy was NOT "very much in line" with what OP said. That very phrase I quoted in your prose loses all meaning by comparing Tolstoy's critique to the OP.
OP's little rant, assigning Elizabethan prose to the "Dark Ages", impatience with getting to a point, calling poetry "gobbletygook" (misspelling that word and misusing it at the same time.)
Tolstoy's attack on Shakespeare's characterization, plot, and morals was not a moronic whine about the inability to understand it.
It is you who are speculating and stretching Tolstoy's actual words to make comparisons to the OP.
Give it up.
Actually, r19, Shakespeare appealed (and sought to appeal) to people across the board. Lower classes attended some of his plays, but his plays were also performed in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Many of his later plays were specifically written to be performed indoors at the Blackfriar's for an audience only of gentlemen.
It is true that to enjoy and understand Shakespeare you need a higher degree of competence in language and general cultural background than is commonly available from the modern education system. Sadly a lot of 'high culture' is going that way, from classical music to pre-modern art to pre-modern literature. Schools are no longer introducing students to the cultural reference points they need to interpret them. In 50 years time Shakespeare will seem as obscure as Chaucer.
Also (and I notice this in myself, despite having a lengthy traditional education) attention spans are being whittled down by the Internet and other transient media to the point where it is an imposition to sit still for 3 hours and watch a single piece.
[quote]I'm tired of hearing how glorious the language is. I'm sure actors get their jollies saying all that, but I find it tiresome to wait 3 paragraphs for someone to get to the point.
These are some of the exact points expressed in Tolstoy's essay, r21.
He writes quite plainly about his exhaustion with the praise of Shakespeare and how tiresome, even revolting, he finds Shakespeare's work. You can parse out the differences, but the parallels are still more salient than the differences.
I kind of think Shakespeare classes should include Tolstoy's essay. Some intelligent people have read Shakespeare's plays and felt nothing. That's important. Having it crammed down your throat as if it's been universally, unquestionably admired and that if you don't like it you're a philistine is not the way to create love and admiration for a writer imho.
Shakespeare should not be in schools, it should be in HOMES. It is the duty of PARENTS to impart the genius of this writer. Teachers make kids shut down. Families should throw out the tv and video games, sit down every night after dinner and RECITE the plays and sonnets.
I mean it.
I used to agree with you, OP, but then I saw a few incredible productions of his plays, and it changed my mind, completely. I had previously just read or had seen amateur productions, and thought the language was stilted and indecipherable. Once I saw a few productions at the Public with actors who really understood how to play it, it was like watching poetry in motion. It was glorious, and it made me understand why his plays are so enduring and highly-thought of.
It's astonishing how much bad Shakespeare there is out there, but how seeing it done well will really bring it alive. I've not been lucky enough to see a show at the Public, but I love seeing Shakespeare when I'm in London... The Brits really know how to bring it to life.
I am an avid reader and actually worked in a theater part time during college and was in the drama club during high school but never could get into Shakespeare, either.
Listen to what Helen Mirren has to say about Shakespeare from the 4:30 mark of this interview. That says it all.
Marjorie Garber's "Shakespeare After All" is superb.
It's a great introduction to his work, especially if, like me, you lack the reading, comprehension skills and patience to read the plays.
And yes, Shakespeare was a propagandist for Elizabeth and James, deviating from historical facts if that would better reinforce the Crown's legitimacy.
During Shakepeare's life, women were not actors, so it's interesting to read how the female roles were complicated, especially when characters such as Viola disguised themselves a males.
A man, playing a woman, disguised as man- How very "Victor/Victoria."
Too much readin' an' shit.
Shakespeare wasn't really an apologist for Elizabeth and James, R35, certainly not in comparison with his contemporaries. He changed history for dramatic reasons, not propagandist ones.
R26 you are an idiot.
I have read Tolstoy's essay and you are taking it way out of context. He was not saying he was exhausted by trying to understand Shakespeare. His point about modern prose is a slight connection to OP's little fit and it ends there.
Your challengers are correct. You are being obtuse about this.
Why you have this bug up your ass makes you look more ridiculous than the OP, particularly since you admit how ridiculous his counterpoint of what prose should be based upon.
Here's another thing that makes me furious: why must Mozart have so many notes? Can't he just get right to the simple tune--or even better, just the beat?
OP is a troll.
r29 Thanks that was interesting . I didn't know Helen dated Liam Neeson.
When did any traces of old english end?
Jame Austin still had the odd bits of OE and that was in the 1810s. Then Wilkie Collins and Dickinson around the middle of of the century read completely as modern english so far as I could tell.
I think it's clear that the OP is in school and flunked his Romeo and Juliet test, because he thought Romeo had a "L'il" before his name.
Why not just start a post titled: I'm not particularly bright, who's with me?
Tolstoy hated Shakespeare, Rex Reed hates Melissa McCarthy. Sometimes a critic is just a pissy bitch with an axe to grind and issues galore. Anyone read War and Peace, talk about "get to the point. "
I had less trouble with the language than I did with the contemporary political allusions and social customs.
Reading the psychological plays, like Macbeth and Hamlet, was easier than the histories like Richard III.
I was surprised when the English teachers spent all their time over the language; a little bit of history overview would have gone a long way towards my enjoyment of the plays.
Our grade 9 class was one of the last to study The Merchant of Venice, before the PC police swooped in to save us from evil influences.
I hate these intellectual sacred cows. I agree with the OP that Shakespeare is terribly outdated and many of his plays are rote and lack that sort of nuance that exists in 19th Russian or pre-60s American literature.
I wanted to like Shakespeare when we got to read it out loud and discuss it in class. But as the smallest, twee-est boy in my class, I was selected to read Juliet, Ophelia, and Portia, which didn't sit well with me.
I was called "Julie" as a result, until I transferred to public school, where they didn't do things like have us read parts. I missed it. I think I'd've flunked Hamlet if I'd only studied it in public school.
The memory is still a big, fat ball of bullying, Shakespeare, but I manage to love R&J nonetheless.
What I really like, though, is Charles Dickens, in classic British lit.
So don't read Shakespeare, OP. The world will survive. Just don't try to pretend that you're so whatever because you don't understand Shakespeare. It's not all that difficult.
Wow, Shakespeare's really been getting away with making people feel dumb since those Dark Ages.
But it's that Dryden guy who really gets up my nose. I am so glad they made that easy-to-read bible with the big gold letters and blue-eyed Jesus photos.
And when a firetruck goes by, and my dog barks so much, it's hard for me to follow all the woofs to the end.
[quote]Jame Austin still had the odd bits of OE and that was in the 1810s.
Who was he? Was he anything like Jame Gumb?
"Sirrah, wouldst thou make the beast with two backs with me? I wouldst make the beats with two backs with me."
I won Best Actress and he wasn't even nominated!!! Why such a fuss?
[quote]I took an acting class and the prof talked about Shakes ripping off another playright. Something about Desdemonoa. Yes, he ripped off someone else!
This is a parody post, right? The tipoff is "playright", right?
I hope I'm right.
Shakespeare might be acquired taste for some.
"Old English" morphed into "Middle English" aroud the 11th Century with the Norman conquest, which is when French began to transform English into what it is today.
"Old English" looks like German, and would be completely indecipherable to you or anyone else who hasn't studied it.
"Middle English" then became "Modern English" around 1500, after the invention of the printing press froze spelling.
So, Shakespeare (whose plays were written in late 16th/early 17th Century) was actually writing in Modern English--which is why you're able to read it.
Or should be...
Seriously, how much longer can Shakespear's popularity last? The English language is ever changing, and in a century or two Shakekspear's plays might be as hard to read as Chaucer.
I didn't get him, either, until I saw Kenneth Branagh's film, Much Ado About Nothing. All of a sudden, I got it. And, enjoyed it. I've watched many live performances and seen some of the classic movie performances. I get it now. Even the obscure stuff.
OP's hatred is impractical. Now, a hate that is practical would be something like, nobody who says New York is the "greatest city in the world" is ever gonna get a piece of this ass. That would be a realistic goal.
Yes and no, OP. I don't think you can dismiss Shakespeare as it's so ingrained in the culture and so many great phrases came from there "pound of flesh", "much ado about nothing" etc.
I think he was as funny as cancer but so many of his plots have been endlessly recycled (and a lot of his plots came from Italian renaissance stuff anyway, showing nothing is that original).
I got into trouble from a language and literature troll when I mistakenly said Shakespeare was Middle English. But no, unlike the awful Chaucer and Beowulf (Old English) this is at least semi-comprehensible. Shakespeare was the start of early modern English. Jane Austen was only a century later (and I hate that bitch, but that's another thread).
The point I was making was in some stupid thread where people kept mentioning Vanessa Redgrave as a shoo in for the Oscar for Coriolanus. This was despite she or the film not having any buzz or any performances of this type having so for 25 years, as much as Vanessa doing it sounds great. I referred to a harsh review that said Shakespearean shouldn't be used in the cinema. Not sure about that, Kenneth Branagh is at least interesting.
Seeing Shakespeare live on stage though, that's what it's all about. I'd love to see all his big plays in Stratford.
OP censoring himself in the title alone says everything about his perspective on language we needed to know, prior to verifying his impudence.
Frankly, I find Chaucer much more "readable" than Shakespeare.
HOWEVER - as other have said, once you see a good production of Shakespeare, it suddenly becomes alive and makes total sense.
The one thing I could never understand about Shakespeare are the villains. Nobody but a psychopath is that hell-bent on destroying everyone around them. Why can't the villains have more depth instead of just being bitchy?
Well, I hated fucking Shakespeare.
Shakespeare is good but I get OP's POV. I never loved it and I think it's fine to hate it. It's just a taste thing. It's a lot of mental cleverness (and I have a BA in English from Oxford so it's not as if I haven't studied it or don't like literature).
[quote]Well, I hated fucking Shakespeare.
Is that how you got the part?
R55), It wasn't the printing press that caused Middle English to become Early Modern English. The Great Vowel Shift of the 15th and early 16th Centuries actually was the major factor. Also, spelling wasn't regularized until well into the 18th Century; in fact, the printing press did cause this to happen, but the process lasted several centuries.
R59), Jane Austen's language is nothing like Shakespeare's. Also, she was writing two centuries after Shakespeare, not one century.
I recently watched Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet and not even Leonard Whiting's ass was worth hearing 2 1/2 hours of that incomprehensible dialogue. I think Shakespeare's works have aged horribly and are just too hard to read for modern audiences (especially for us, non-Americans/English people). Greek tragedies on the other hand, which are almost 2000 years older than Shakespeare's works, still seem as sophisticated and effective as ever.
Shakespeare literally invented more than 1,700 words that are part of modern English.
I mean, haters will hate. But clearly the problem here lies not with Shakespeare, but with you.
[quote]I'm not a Philistine
But ya ARE, Blanche! Ya ARE a Philistine!
Has anyone mentioned to OP, that Shakespeare also wrote sonnets? They might be more manageable for you, OP.
OP, I agree his work is difficult. It is really almost like learning a new language, but once you get used to it, reading his work is quite an amazing experience.
Reading it can be perplexing, but seeing it acted out can be more comprehensible.
[quote]I'm not a Philistine;
oh, yes, yes, yes, you are!
Here is my question to OP - what are you doing that you hear so much about Shakespeare?
I only ask because honestly just about the only time I hear people talk about Shakespeare is pretty much when I go see one of his plays. Or we did talk about Shakespeare when a group of us got together to watch "Slings and Arrows". You must be intentionally inflicting pain upon yourself.
I also wonder how old OP might be? My parents took me to see Othello when I was in third grade. All I could think was how long is it going to take Othello to kill himself? Maybe when OP is an adult he might have the patience to sit still through an entire play?
Anyone else see the irony of quoting Tolstoy to support OP's point? OP thinks three paragraphs is too long to make a point, I can't imagine what he thinks of Tolstoy.
[quote] Shakespeare literally invented more than 1,700 words that are part of modern English.
If that's true, then how exactly did the people who attented the premieres of his plays knew what the actors were talking about?
by listening and thinking, like most people do, or are you that daft?
He Invented words or coined phrases? The latter, methinks...
R74 - that is actually true. He did invent words - a lot of them - but that was relatively common at the time. There were a lot of complaints about new words, particularly latin-based ones.
Shakespeare used to state something a couple of times just in case - perfect example is:
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
He didn't need to repeat the last phrase as it's a restatement.
Shakepeare loved words and I believe he used around 30,000 unique words in his work. Whereas the King James version of the Bible used 8,000 - making it very simple language for the everyman.
But there are a ton of words that Shakespeare created that we now take for granted:
I feel pressured to enjoy and appreciate Shakespeare a lot more than I ever do. It always feels like school field trip material no matter when or where I encounter it.
Laurence Sterne had a much bigger vocab.
[quote]If that's true, then how exactly did the people who attented the premieres of his plays knew what the actors were talking about?
Because they were at least twice as smart as you?
I remember in summer 2013 seeing two excellent contrasting versions of Shakespeare on the big screen: Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado', and The Globe's 'Twelfth Night' (which later charmed Broadway).
One done in modern dress in a contemporary setting, the other on the unadorned boards of The Globe: both fully engrossing, and moving.
So yes, I'd say The Bard has things to say to Century 21. Harold Bloom called his Shakespeare book 'The Invention Of The Human', which might be pushing it, given the Greek drama; but 'The Amplification Of The Human' might not.
Shakespeare invented, or reflected, at least as many characters as, say, Dickens; and the latter didn't feature many Kings.
Of course it helps to know the plays, but put in the work over time and the pleasure derived is more than worth it: a gift that keeps on giving.
DL favourite Benedict Cumberbatch knows this: his 'Hamlet' at The Barbican next year sold out before he'd signed the contract. Looks like Shakespeare might survive another season.