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Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Writers who 'romance' history (off topic)

[ Edited ]
Well, you can't blame Shakespeare for being incorrectly taught in US schools! Here we are always told that the plays are historically inaccurate and are 'romances'. (And most of the Americans here seem to understand that. I must ask Danielle what the French are taught.) I don't think that the History plays will cause an 'issue' here - if Cheryl doesn't say that they are historically inaccurate I certainly shall and I shall encourage folks to treat them as the fiction they largely are.

There is a germ of truth in a lot of what we call 'fairy tales' but we don't mistake them for the truth; so it is with Shakespeare's 'plays'. Any tale handed down by storytellers/relatives is likely to be inaccurate, even if it started out as the 'truth' and authors like Shakespeare were dealing with handed down tales which they knew would have been embellished, just as they embellished them. My grandfather was a great teller of tales but I didn't take his stories as 'gospel truth' and later I was able to pick up on his inaccuracies. But I didn't castigate him for them because I knew they were part of the art of storytelling.

http://www.bobhuang.com/essays/essay22.htm

There is little historical truth in Sir Walter Scott, who called himself a 'romancer' and, again, we are taught that over here. One reviewer of Waverley (Croker) objected to the 'obscurity of the Scots dialect, historical inaccuraces and the mixture of history and romance'. I was very 'into' Scott as a girl but nevertheless knew not to confuse his tales with my real history lessons. Here is a link to the Cambridge History on Scott's historical inaccuraces, for those who haven't read of them. I would say are just as great as Shakespeare's, only Shakespeare was a better and more enduring storyteller:-

http://www.bartleby.com/222/0118.html

Jane Austen's heartfelt criticism of Scott is amusing: 'Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. - It is not fair. He has fame and profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people's mouths. - I do not like him, and do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it - but I fear I must'. (Letter to Anna Austen 1814.)






Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
There are many historical novelists who did/do the same Everyman, Walter Scott for instance,...Did you only find out recently that his plays were not historically accurate?

I haven't read all of Scott, though I do have a complete collection, but I don't recall any of his novels in which he is as historically inaccurate as Shakespeare is. Certainly he had some historical inaccuracies, as have been fairly well documented in the Cambridge History, but they don't seem to me of nearly the magnitude of Shakespeare's inaccuracies. But that's a judgment, and others may disagree with it.

I have known for a long time, of course, that Shakespeare wasn't true to history. But it's only in the past few years, for plays that I know well enough in structure, character, and action to be able to concentrate on other aspects, that I have started looking in detail at the historical inaccuracies and seeing just how extraordinarily inaccurate he was -- and how willing he was to make up major incidents out of whole cloth and assign them to his characters. When we get to the History plays this will become even more an issue. It's a shame that at least on this side of the ocean many people seem to derive most of their knowledge of the history of the age from Shakespeare's plays.

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-09-200705:00 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-09-200705:15 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-09-200705:16 AM

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Forget the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

I think it is best to forget entirely the 'real' history and to concentrate on the tale that Shakespeare is telling. It then ceases to become either confusing or bewildering.




cheryl_shell wrote:

Everyman wrote:
Snippets from those great sites:

"As for the personalities of the two main characters, Duncan and MacBeth, again Shakespeare's portrayal is not historically correct. In the play Duncan is portrayed as a strong, wise and elderly king whereas in reality he was a weak and ineffective ruler. Shakespeare's Macbeth has virtually no legitimate claim to the throne whereas the real MacBeth had a respectable claim through his mother's side - indeed both MacBeth and his wife were descended from Kenneth MacAlpin. Shakespeare also gives MacBeth the title 'Thane of Glamis' but in fact Glamis was not known as a thanage in the 11th century.

All in all, the confusing mix of fact and fiction which runs through the play is bewildering."



Thanks for pointing to this passage, Everyman. I disagree with the writer of this essay. I don't think Shakespeare unambiguously portrays Duncan as strong and wise. There are hints in Duncan's scenes that he is not as strong as he needs to be. After all, when we first meet him we learn that there are two rebel factions trying to overthrow him--one staging a revolt, and the other in league with the Norwegians. He seems truly hurt that his thanes have deceived him. That he isn't really a good judge of character becomes clear when he trusts Macbeth with the same title, Thane of Cawdor, that he trusted the last treasonous thane with. As he admits about Cawdor: "There's no art / To find the mind's construction in the face. / He was a gentleman on whom I built / An absolute trust" (1.4.11-14). No sooner does he say that, then he spots Macbeth and gushes over him, quite unking-like, with the speech that begins: "O worthiest cousin" (14).

Later, when Macbeth agonizes over killing Duncan, he describes the king's virtues in terms that are so over-the-top that his praise seems more suited to a clergyman than a king, and makes me wonder how fit Duncan was for his office:

Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off,
And pity, like a naked newborn babe,
Striding the blast, or Heaven's cherubim horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. (1.7.16-25)


Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Forget the "real" Duncan and Macbeth


Choisya wrote:
I think it is best to forget entirely the 'real' history and to concentrate on the tale that Shakespeare is telling. It then ceases to become either confusing or bewildering.

As long as he chooses to use living people as his characters, I will continue to look at the facts of their lives and what S has done with them. I find it an interesting side note to my reading and enjoyment of the plays. But those who don't are certainly welcome to ignore my posts on this (or, indeed, on any other) subject.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Forget the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

I entirely agree that it is interesting Everyman but I would not like it to spoil your enjoyment of the plays, or of Shakespeare, which it seems to be doing?




Everyman wrote:

Choisya wrote:
I think it is best to forget entirely the 'real' history and to concentrate on the tale that Shakespeare is telling. It then ceases to become either confusing or bewildering.

As long as he chooses to use living people as his characters, I will continue to look at the facts of their lives and what S has done with them. I find it an interesting side note to my reading and enjoyment of the plays. But those who don't are certainly welcome to ignore my posts on this (or, indeed, on any other) subject.


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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Forget the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

Oh, heavens no, not diminishing my enjoyment at all. It adds a dimension to my reading.

Choisya wrote:
I entirely agree that it is interesting Everyman but I would not like it to spoil your enjoyment of the plays, or of Shakespeare, which it seems to be doing?




Everyman wrote:

Choisya wrote:
I think it is best to forget entirely the 'real' history and to concentrate on the tale that Shakespeare is telling. It then ceases to become either confusing or bewildering.

As long as he chooses to use living people as his characters, I will continue to look at the facts of their lives and what S has done with them. I find it an interesting side note to my reading and enjoyment of the plays. But those who don't are certainly welcome to ignore my posts on this (or, indeed, on any other) subject.





_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: More History: Shakespeare's Boss and Preparing Manuscripts

[ Edited ]
The powerful Master of the Revels not only selected the plays that could be performed but could 'delete lines or passages and even request that entire scenes or passages be inserted into the original material'. And we complain about modern producers!

http://shakespeare.about.com/od/studentresources/a/revels.htm

Here is some information about how Shakespeare's scripts were likely to be prepared, what happened to them, censorship, prompt copies etc and why none survived:-

http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/xIllustrations.html

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-17-200709:12 PM

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Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
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Re: More History: Shakespeare's Boss and Preparing Manuscripts

Fascinating stuff, Choisya! And of course there was Shakespeare's editor:

http://www.bardcentral.com/blog/?p=25



Choisya wrote:
The powerful Master of the Revels not only selected the plays that could be performed but could 'delete lines or passages and even request that entire scenes or passages be inserted into the original material'. And we complain about modern producers!

http://shakespeare.about.com/od/studentresources/a/revels.htm

Here is some information about how Shakespeare's scripts were likely to be prepared, what happened to them, censorship, prompt copies etc and why none survived:-

http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/xIllustrations.html

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-17-200709:12 PM




"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: More History: Shakespeare's Boss and Preparing Manuscripts

Brilliant Laurel - thanks a lot, you cheered me up!:smileyhappy:




Laurel wrote:
Fascinating stuff, Choisya! And of course there was Shakespeare's editor:

http://www.bardcentral.com/blog/?p=25



Frequent Contributor
KristyR
Posts: 379
Registered: ‎11-01-2006
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Re: More History: Shakespeare's Boss and Preparing Manuscripts



Laurel wrote:
Fascinating stuff, Choisya! And of course there was Shakespeare's editor:

http://www.bardcentral.com/blog/?p=25



Choisya wrote:
The powerful Master of the Revels not only selected the plays that could be performed but could 'delete lines or passages and even request that entire scenes or passages be inserted into the original material'. And we complain about modern producers!

http://shakespeare.about.com/od/studentresources/a/revels.htm

Here is some information about how Shakespeare's scripts were likely to be prepared, what happened to them, censorship, prompt copies etc and why none survived:-

http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/xIllustrations.html

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-17-200709:12 PM







That was funny! We love Mr. Bean!
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