Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Drunk Shakespeare


... thinks John Sutherland, at http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1881157,00.html

2 Comments:

Anonymous Emma Smith said...

I usually like John Sutherland's man-on-the-literary-omnibus persona in the Guardian, but I thought this was a crazy article. A real Monday morning job.
Sutherland's analysis of Macbeth is utterly inadequate. I'm not averse to pointing out problems/failings in Shakespeare, but his examples are no use. For example, 'no man born of woman' - that's supposed to be difficult to understand, surely - the witches' riddling speech, the statement's self-evident implausibility - isn't that the point? And what's wrong with 'Turn, hellhound, turn?' Obviously, poorly delivered, it won't work. But the same could be said of any line in Shakespeare. It doesn't seem to demonstrate anything intrinsic to the verse itself. I'd have thought in its pattern of stresses it was rather an effective line. What does anyone else think?
Thanks for the blog, Adam, and for some wonderfully random pictures.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

hi emma! thanks for this. i was also irritated by sutherland's (faux-laddish) piece: less a slice of criticism than an one-liner stretched to the length of an article. in a funny way, what seems to be a welcome bit of iconoclastic criticism (shakespeare actually did write bad lines) ends up being the opposite: bad lines are attributed to a drunk will, not the real will - and so sutherland's musings become the latest in a long line of attempts to shift responsibilty for the crap bits of shakespeare away from the man himself (onto other writers; onto clumsy printing; or, here, onto nine pints of southwark ale).

the 'bad' lines sutherland cites are, to my mind, not the clangers he suggests. which is a shame since there are some magnificently awful bits of writing in the complete works ... top of my list has to be titus, 2.2, where saturninus cries ‘I’ll see what hole is here / And what he is that now is leapt into it.’ it's jeffrey archer, without the feel for language.

5:18 PM  

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