Tuesday, October 1, 2013

In the 18th century, Shakespeare dominated the London stage

In the 18th century, Shakespeare dominated the London stage, while Shakespeare productions turned increasingly into the creation of star turns for star actors. DELL NSK-DG101 Laptop Keyboard

After the Licensing Act of 1737, one fourth of the plays performed were by Shakespeare and on at least two occasions rival London playhouses staged the very same Shakespeare play at the same time (Romeo and Juliet in 1755 and King Lear the next year) and still commanded audiences.  HP Pavilion G6-1223TX Laptop Keyboard

This occasion was a striking example of the growing prominence of Shakespeare stars in the theatrical culture, the big attraction being the competition and rivalry between the male leads at Covent Garden and Drury Lane, Spranger Barry and David Garrick. Apparently no incongruity was perceived in having Barry and Garrick, SONY VAIO VGN-FS550 Laptop Keyboard

in their late thirties, play adolescent Romeo one season and geriatric King Lear the next: age appropriateness was nothing, the power to command and electrify audiences was all. In September 1769 Garrick staged a major Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-upon-Avon which was a major influence on the rise of bardolatry.  HP Pavilion dv6-2112sa Laptop Keyboard

As performance playscripts diverged more and more from their originals, the publication of texts intended for reading developed rapidly in the opposite direction, with the invention of textual criticism and an emphasis on fidelity to Shakespeare's original words. The texts that we read and perform today were largely settled in the 18th century. HP 640436-001 Laptop Keyboard

 Nahum Tate and Nathaniel Lee had already prepared editions and performed scene divisions in the late 17th century, and Nicholas Rowe's edition of 1709 is considered the first truly scholarly text for the plays. It was followed by many good 18th-century editions, crowned by Edmund Malone's landmark Variorum Edition, TOSHIBA NSK-TBD01 Laptop Keyboard

which was published posthumously in 1821 and remains the basis of modern editions. These collected editions were meant for reading, not staging, and some of them were even convenient for a poetry lover to carry around; Rowe's 1709 edition was, compared to the old folios, a light pocketbook. Shakespeare criticism also increasingly spoke to readers, rather than to theatre audiences. TOSHIBA Satellite L755-SP5102CL Laptop Keyboard

The only aspects of Shakespeare's plays that were consistently disliked and singled out for criticism in the 18th century were thepuns ("clenches") and the "low" (sexual) allusions. While a few editors, notably Alexander Pope, attempted to gloss over or remove the puns and the double entendres, they were quickly reversed, HP 640436-001 Laptop Keyboard

and by mid-century the puns and sexual humour were (with only a few exceptions, see Thomas Bowdler) back in to stay.

Dryden's sentiments about Shakespeare's matchless imagination and capacity for painting "nature" were echoed without a break in the 18th century by, for example, Joseph Addison ("Among the English, Shakespeare has incomparably excelled all others"),HP Pavilion G6-1223TX Laptop Keyboard

Alexander Pope ("every single character in Shakespeare is as much an Individual as those in Life itself"), and Samuel Johnson (who scornfully dismissed Voltaire's and Rhymer's neoclassical Shakespeare criticism as "the petty cavils of petty minds"). HP Mini 110-3004tu Laptop Keyboard

The long-lived belief that the Romantics were the first generation to truly appreciate Shakespeare and to prefer him to Ben Jonson is contradicted by unstinting praise from writers throughout the 18th century. Ideas about Shakespeare that many people think of as typically post-Romantic were frequently expressed in the 18th and even in the 17th century: TOSHIBA Satellite M645-S4047 Laptop Keyboard

he was described as a genius who needed no learning, as deeply original, and as creating uniquely "real" and individual characters (see Timeline of Shakespeare criticism). To compare Shakespeare and his well-educated contemporary Ben Jonson was a popular exercise at this time, a comparison that was invariably complimentary to Shakespeare. DELL Inspiron N4050 laptop keyboard

It functioned to highlight the special qualities of both writers, and it especially powered the assertion that natural genius trumps rules, that "there is always an appeal open from criticism to nature" (Samuel Johnson).

Opinion of Shakespeare was briefly shaped in the 1790s by the "discovery" of the Shakespeare Papers by William Henry Ireland. Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520 laptop keyboard

Ireland claimed to have found in atrunk a goldmine of lost documents of Shakespeare's including two plays Vortigern and Henry II. These documents appeared to demonstrate a number of unknown facts about Shakespeare that shaped opinion of his works, including a Profession of Faith demonstrating Shakespeare was a Protestant and that he had an illegitimate child.

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Although there were many believers in the provenance of the Shakespeare Papers they soon came under fierce attack from scholars who pointed out numerous inaccuracies. Vortigern had only one performance at the Drury Lane Theatre before Ireland admitted he had forged the documents and written the plays himself.  HP Mini 210-2070sb laptop keyboard

Some of Shakespeare's work was performed in continental Europe during the 17th century, but it was not until the mid 18th century that it became widely known. In Germany Lessing compared Shakespeare to German folk literature.  Lenovo 0A62075 laptop keyboard

Goethe organised a Shakespeare jubilee in Frankfurt in 1771, stating that the dramatist had shown that the Aristotelian unities were "as oppressive as a prison" and were "burdensome fetters on our imagination". Herder likewise proclaimed that reading Shakespeare's work opens "leaves from the book of events, of providence, of the world, blowing in the sands of time." LENOVO IdeaPad S10 20015 laptop keyboard

This claim that Shakespeare's work breaks through all creative boundaries to reveal a chaotic, teeming, contradictory world became characteristic of Romantic criticism, later being expressed by Victor Hugo in the preface to his play Cromwell, in which he lauded Shakespeare as an artist of the grotesque, a genre in which the tragic, absurd, trivial and serious were inseparably intertwined.  Lenovo 3000 Y500 laptop keyboard

Theatres and theatrical scenery became ever more elaborate in the 19th century, and the acting editions used were progressively cut and restructured to emphasize more and more the soliloquies and the stars, at the expense of pace and action.[4] Performances were further slowed by the need for frequent pauses to change the scenery, HP Pavilion dv6-3023sy laptop keyboard

creating a perceived need for even more cuts in order to keep performance length within tolerable limits; it became a generally accepted maxim that Shakespeare's plays were too long to be performed without substantial cuts. The platform, or apron, stage, on which actors of the 17th century would come forward for audience contact, ACER Travelmate 4670 laptop keyboard

was gone, and the actors stayed permanently behind the fourth wall or proscenium arch, further separated from the audience by theorchestra, see image right.

Through the 19th century, a roll call of legendary actors' names all but drown out the plays in which they appear: Sarah Siddons (1755—1831), John Philip Kemble (1757—1823), SONY VAIO VGN-FZ460EB laptop keyboard

Henry Irving (1838—1905), and Ellen Terry (1847—1928). To be a star of the legitimate drama came to mean being first and foremost a "great Shakespeare actor", with a famous interpretation of, for men, Hamlet, and for women, Lady Macbeth, and especially with a striking delivery of the great soliloquies. HP Pavilion DV6z artist edition 2 laptop keyboard

The acme of spectacle, star, and soliloquy Shakespeare performance came with the reign of actor-manager Henry Irving at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in London from 1878 to 1899. At the same time, a revolutionary return to the roots of Shakespeare's original texts, and to the platform stage, absence of scenery, and fluid scene changes of the Elizabethan theatre, was being effected by William Poel's Elizabethan Stage Society. HP Pavilion DV7-3069wm laptop keyboard

The belief in the unappreciated 18th-century Shakespeare was proposed at the beginning of the 19th century by the Romantics, in support of their view of 18th-century literary criticism as mean, formal, and rule-bound, which was contrasted with their own reverence for the poet as prophet and genius. Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520 laptop keyboard

Such ideas were most fully expressed by German critics such as Goethe and the Schlegel brothers. Romantic critics such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Hazlitt raised admiration for Shakespeare to worship or even "bardolatry" (a sarcastic coinage from bard + idolatry by George Bernard Shaw in 1901, meaning excessive or religious worship of Shakespeare). DELL Latitude E6400 laptop keyboard

To compare him to other Renaissance playwrights at all, even for the purpose of finding him superior, began to seem irreverent. Shakespeare was rather to be studied without any involvement of the critical faculty, to be addressed or apostrophized—almost prayed to—by his worshippers, as in Thomas de Quincey's classic essay "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth" (1823): SONY VAIO VGN-N350N laptop keyboard

"O, mighty poet! Thy works are not as those of other men, simply and merely great works of art; but are also like the phenomena of nature, like the sun and the sea, the stars and the flowers,—like frost and snow, rain and dew, hail-storm and thunder, which are to be studied with entire submission of our own faculties…".GATEWAY V030946FS1 US laptop keyboard

As the concept of literary originality grew in importance, critics were horrified at the idea of adapting Shakespeare's tragedies for the stage by putting happy endings on them, or editing out the puns in Romeo and Juliet. In another way, what happened on the stage was seen as unimportant, as the Romantics, DELL 9Z.N1K82.C01 laptop keyboard

themselves writers of closet drama, considered Shakespeare altogether more suitable for reading than staging. Charles Lamb saw any form of stage representation as distracting from the true qualities of the text. This view, argued as a timeless truth, was also a natural consequence of the dominance of melodrama and spectacle on the early 19th-century stage. SONY Vaio VGN-AW41MF/H laptop keyboard

Shakespeare became an important emblem of national pride in the 19th century, which was the heyday of the British Empire and the acme of British power in the world. To Thomas Carlyle in On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841), Shakespeare was one of the great poet-heroes of history, in the sense of being a "rallying-sign" for British cultural patriotism all over the world, including even the lost American colonies: HP Pavilion DV7t-2200 CTO laptop keyboard

"From Paramatta, from New York, wheresoever… English men and women are, they will say to one another, 'Yes, this Shakespeare is ours; we produced him, we speak and think by him; we are of one blood and kind with him'" ("The Poet as Hero"). As the foremost of the great canonical writers, the jewel of English culture, and as Carlyle puts it,  SONY VAIO VGN-NW15L laptop keyboard

"merely as a real, marketable, tangibly useful possession", Shakespeare became in the 19th century a means of creating a common heritage for the motherland and all her colonies. Post-colonial literary critics have had much to say of this use of Shakespeare's plays in what they regard as a move to subordinate and deracinate the cultures of the colonies themselves. HP Pavilion DV7-2013tx laptop keyboard

Shakespeare continued to be considered the greatest English writer of all time throughout the 20th century. Most Western educational systems required the textual study of two or more of Shakespeare's plays, and both amateur and professional stagings of Shakespeare were commonplace. TOSHIBA Satellite P305-S8906 laptop keyboard

It was the proliferation of high-quality, well-annotated texts and the unrivalled reputation of Shakespeare that allowed for stagings of Shakespeare's plays to remain textually faithful, but with an extraordinary variety in setting, stage direction, and costuming. Institutions such as the Folger HP Pavilion dv6-2159tx laptop keyboard

Shakespeare Library in the United States worked to ensure constant, serious study of Shakespearean texts and the Royal Shakespeare Company in the United Kingdom worked to maintain a yearly staging of at least two plays.

Shakespeare performances reflected the tensions of the times, and early in the century, HP Pavilion DV7-3165dx laptop keyboard

 Barry Jackson of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre began the staging of modern-dress productions, thus starting a new trend in Shakesperian production. Performances of the plays could be highly interpretive. Thus, play directors would emphasize Marxist, feminist, or, perhaps most popularly, Lenovo Thinkpad T520 laptop keyboard

Freudian psychoanalytical interpretations of the plays, even as they retained letter-perfect scripts. The number of analytical approaches became more diverse by the latter part of the century, as critics applied theories such as structuralism, New Historicism, Cultural materialism, African American studies, queer studies, and literary semiotics to Shakespeare's works. HP Pavilion dv6-3020tu laptop keyboard

In 1934 the French government banned, in permanence, performances of Coriolanus because of its perceived unpatriotic qualities. In the international protests that followed came one from Germany, from none other than Joseph Goebbels. Although productions of Shakespeare's plays in Germany itself were subject to 'streamlining', SONY VAIO VGN-FS760/W laptop keyboard

he continued to be favoured as a great classical dramatist, especially so as almost every new German play since the late 1890s onwards was portrayed by German government propaganda as the work of left-wingers, of Jews or of "degenerates" of one kind or another. Politically acceptable writers had simply been unable to fill the gap, TOSHIBA Satellite M105-S3001 laptop keyboard

or had only been able to do so with the worst kinds of agitprop. In 1935 Goebbels was to say "We can build autobahns, revive the economy, create a new army, but we... cannot manufacture new dramatists." With Schiller suspect for his radicalism, Lessing for his humanism and even the great Goethe for his lack of patriotism, the legacy of the "Aryan" Shakespeare was reinterpreted for new purposes. HP Envy 15-1040er laptop keyboard

Rodney Symington, Professor of Germanic and Russian Studies at the University of Victoria, Canada, deals with this question in The Nazi Appropriation of Shakespeare: Cultural Politics in the Third Reich (Edwin Mellen Press, 2005). The scholar reports that Hamlet, for instance, was reconceived as a proto-German warrior rather than a man with a conscience. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ19VN laptop keyboard

Of this play one critic wrote: "If the courtier Laertes is drawn to Paris and the humanist Horatio seems more Roman than Danish, it is surely no accident that Hamlet's alma mater should be Wittenberg." A leading magazine declared that the crime which deprived Hamlet of his inheritance was a foreshadow of the Treaty of Versailles, and that the conduct of Gertrude was reminiscent of the spineless Weimar politicians. SONY VAIO VGN-CR220E laptop keyboard

Weeks after Hitler took power in 1933 an official party publication appeared entitled Shakespeare - a Germanic Writer, a counter to those who wanted to ban all foreign influences. At the Propaganda Ministry, Rainer Schlosser, given charge of German theatre by Goebbels, mused that Shakespeare was more German than English. DELL 1R28D Laptop Keyboard

After the outbreak of the war the performance of Shakespeare was banned, though it was quickly lifted by Hitler in person, a favour extended to no other. Not only did the regime appropriate the Bard but it also appropriated Elizabethan England itself. To the Nazi leaders, it was a young, vigorous nation, much like the Third Reich itself, quite unlike the decadent British Empire of the present day.  GATEWAY V030946FS1 US Laptop Keyboard

Clearly there were some exceptions to the official approval of Shakespeare, and the great patriotic plays, most notably Henry V were shelved. But interestingly the reception of The Merchant of Venice was at best lukewarm (Marlowe's The Jew of Malta was suggested as a possible alternative) because it was too ambiguous and not nearly anti-semitic enough for Nazi taste. HP G61-424CA Laptop Keyboard

So Hamlet was by far the most popular play, along with Macbeth and Richard III.

That divergence between text and performance in Shakespeare continued into the new media of film. For instance, both Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet have been filmed in modern settings, sometimes with contemporary "updated" dialogue. DELL Vostro PP37L Laptop Keyboard

Additionally, there were efforts (notably by the BBC) to ensure that there was a filmed or videotaped version of every Shakespeare play. The reasoning for this was educational, as many government educational initiatives recognized the need to get performative Shakespeare into the same classrooms as the read plays. GATEWAY NV-54 Laptop Keyboard

Many English-language Modernist poets drew on Shakespeare's works, interpreting in new ways. Ezra Pound, for instance, considered the Sonnets as a kind of apprentice work, with Shakespeare learning the art of poetry through writing them. He also declared the History plays to be the true English epic. TOSHIBA Satellite P305-S8906 Laptop Keyboard

 Basil Buntingrewrote the sonnets as modernist poems by simply erasing all the words he considered unnecessary. Louis Zukofsky had read all of Shakespeare's works by the time he was eleven, and his Bottom: On Shakespeare (1947) is a book-length prose poem exploring the role of the eye in the plays. ACER Aspire 5742 Laptop Keyboard

In its original printing, a second volume consisting of a setting of The Tempest by the poet's wife, Celia Zukofsky was also included.

Most biographical information about William Shakespeare's life and death derives from public instead of private documents: vital records, real estate and tax records, lawsuits, records of payments, and references to Shakespeare and his works in printed and hand-written texts.  DELL NSK-D8001 Laptop Keyboard

The historical record documents that Shakespeare was baptised on 26 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England, in the Holy Trinity Church; at age 18 married Anne Hathaway with whom he had three children; and was an actor, playwright, poet, and theatre entrepreneur in London. Compaq Presario CQ57 Series Laptop Keyboard

Though more is known about Shakespeare's life than most other Elizabethan and Jacobean writers, because of his social status as a commoner, the low esteem in which his profession was held and the general disinterest of the time in the personal lives of writers, few personal biographical facts about Shakespeare survive.[1]  ACER Aspire 5742ZG Laptop Keyboard

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