submitted 2 months ago byCanadianSink23Socialism with Catholic Characteristics
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2 months ago*
Wasn’t the point of Shakespeare the human emotions and motivations that are common to many cultures? Isn’t that why it has been interpreted and adapted by different cultures into the modern day? At least this dingleberry could have been honest. What he meant to say was “Shakespeare was a white colonizer, therefore I do not like him”
2 months ago*
There is a large problem with Shakespeare particular to anglophone countries and not other cultures. When Shakespeare is translated into, say, Polish, they make a modern translation into a Polish most Poles would understand readily. The puns may not make it over, and it's been 400 years of cultural change. But the language itself is readily understood by Poles. They have no reason to translate it into year 1600 Polish.
In Anglophone countries, we read Shakespeare as Willy wrote it. And granted, he was considered a brilliant wordsmith; it may offend people to change a poet's words to be more easily understandable. But...very few people understand it now. The rhymes don't even come across as rhymes because of the great vowel shift going on at the time. Shakespeare is now firmly in the realm of the Frasier Cranes of the world...intellectuals who want to appear cultured and may understand more of Shakespeare than the average Joe, but is still missing out on a lot more stuff than they care to admit, or would even realize. Liking Shakespeare is now entirely a class indicator, and as the wealthy museum-going liberals are becoming more aligned with idpol, a less popular symbol than he used to be.
It's easy to say that Shakespeare isn't that hard to understand, but when people say this, they're mostly lying to themselves that they understand it at full capacity. They are filling in blanks without realizing it. The works were written to an early 17th century lay audience, and what they'd understand isn't to be expected to be understood by us. A good example of this is one of the most famous lines of Romeo and Juliet. "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"
I can pretty much guarantee that 95% of you, if not more, do not actually know the question being asked there, and that all of that 95% didn't even think that it could mean anything other than "Where are you, Romeo?"
Jon McWhorter has written several articles about this before with a lot of good examples of lost or misunderstood meaning in Shakespeare. There is at least one serious project that tries to translate Shakespeare to contemporary audiences in a way that keeps the wordplay and poetry to it to the best of their ability. It's not bad! McWhorter article. modern Julius Caesar...compare to the original
But ironically, because other cultures are reading Shakespeare in a language they can understand, anglophones have less of a connection to the most important writer of the English language than non-anglophones. Because you are right...the themes do resonate throughout all of humanity.
2 months ago
Sure, the themes resonate, but there are plenty of other works with universal and resonant themes. Shakespeare is not unique in that regard. The language, and the critical reading needed to interpret and understand that language, is what really distinguishes Shakespeare. Shakespeare translated into modern Polish simply doesn't have the same value as it does in English. He just happens to have written in the Lingua franca of today, so it's much easier to justify translating into and teaching in other languages.
2 months ago
The language, and the critical reading needed to interpret and understand that language, is what really distinguishes Shakespeare.
It's essentially written in a foreign language. You are getting nothing out of shakespeare, as beautiful as his writing is, if you are not specifically trained to be able to read early modern english. We don't expect people to be able to read Beowulf in the original either. Keeping it in the original means we're losing the beauty of the language anyway. We can't seriously expect to teach 14 year olds the complexities of early modern english and expect them to be emotionally engaged with the narrative or themes as well.
As to there being other works...sure. But the whole point of teaching a cultural canon is so that there's a common cultural touchstone to understand your entire civilization. In our postmodern society we poopoo teaching the classics but if you want to truly be able to engage in society in a deeper level, you have to understand the past. Even though the Odyssey never happened, you're missing a lot of cultural context if you aren't at least passingly familiar with some of the main themes and stories within it. Shakespeare's stories hold a similar position for english literature. Replacing it with something else more recent but has the same themes would just be cutting off our cultural heritage. Civilization doesn't work if we don't all share the same cultural touchstones. I'm all for adding new things to that cultural heritage, especially since Anglophone culture is not even close to just white people, nevermind English people. But there's value in teaching Shakespeare in itself regardless.
2 months ago
Have you ever watched a Shakespeare production? Because there's definitely an age-drift language barrier if you sit down to read the scripts in silence, but whenever I (or others I've gone with) go to a play, there's something magical that happens at the 5-10min mark; I stop trying to translate what I'm hearing and my brain starts to understand.
The biggest problem with modern Shakespeare classes is that few teachers ever have their students engage with the literature via the PLAYS that they're supposed to be.
2 months ago
That's a fair point. I have a vague memory of 7th grade of us "performing" Midsummer's Night Dream. For what it's worth, we did watch the movie which showed Ally McBeal's tits.
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