Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Monty Python of His Day?


I’m obligated to click on any link that promises a list of stuff we may or may not have known about Shakespeare.  Typically I either knew it already, or it’s a list that just spouts out some typical urban legends that nobody really knows for sure about.

So I’m happy with this list that starts out with Venus and Adonis and then moves right on the Love’s Labour’s Won (pointing out that it is probably another name for Shrew) and Cardenio, adding that it might have been written by Humphrey Moseley?  There you go, I learned something.

The middle – about the shotgun wedding, and all the words and cliches added to the English language – are pretty standard stuff. 

Then it ends again with more detail than you usually find, including credit to David Garrick for bringing Shakespeare out of obscurity 150 years after his death.


Willshill said...

"Even still, Shakespeare most likely would not be known to you today if it had not been for a man named David Garrick (1717-1779)"

Historically, this statement is 'most likely' a gross exaggeration.

1623-First Folio; 1632-#2 Folio; 1663/4-3rd; 1685-#4

Ten edited complete works were published between 1709 and 1790, to say nothing of the literary criticism generated by scholars in the 1700s concerning the Works themselves, the 'edited' editions, and the pure literary criticism relevant to all of the above. The 18th century also ushered in the era of the critical periodical-some two dozen, give-or-take, I believe. Variorum #1, a collection of editions, variances, and criticisms on the Works hit the street in 1821. Shakespeare was in no danger of extinction--at least as a gargantuan literary figure who wrote dramatic plays-- by the time Garrick took over the Drury Lane in 1745. While it's true he brought back some of the plays and he did possibly start the engine of tourism in Stratford, the more interesting--and accurate- note is that he uncluttered the then-littered Shakespearean stage somewhat by removing some of the unnecessary scenic garbage bestowed on The Plays by Restoration concepts and conventions.
On a less happy note, Garrick re-wrote The Plays as it pleased him, and also continued the popular convention of the 'alternative' Lear/Cordelia ending--they Live!-happily ever after! This treatment was espoused by none other than Mr. Boswell's Samuel Johnson, himself responsible for the 1765 'edit' of the Complete Works of....... ...Shakespeare.(?)

Craig said...

I remember Garrick most of all for the Shakespeare Jubilee of 1769, which is remembered as the official start of "Bardolatry"--a three-day festival in Stratford that featured parades, overblown speeches, kitschy souvenirs...and not one word actually written by William Shakespeare.

But I've never heard of anyone attributing Cardenio to Humphrey Moseley. I think that part's a little bit confused. Moseley just published old manuscripts.

Willshill said...

Your account of Garrick's "commercial" reminds me--All the mouthing tribute that's been paid to a man of words, considering how many times a great many of those words have been found to be not quite what they 'should be' in the opinion of the bestowers of the laurel wreathes. Today--still--the 'experts' are arguing over words Shakespeare didn't write; since much of what they argue over is warmed over fourth folio material, an error-filled document, itself full of 'emendations', used by Rowe as the basis for his first edition of collected works in 1709. Every 'emendation' since has been based on the accepted notions of one or more watered down/altered version that came before it. What "professional courtesy" has done to what most of us "know" of Shakespeare-- :((
I wonder if Garrick's Hamlet added the O, O, O, O! after "The rest is silence"? Funny how the (!) and the upper case (Os), something the "experts" added, are really the root cause of all of the need for discussion; yet not one of them will admit it. :)