Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I definitely smell a pork product of some kind

Shippy and I are having an arguement.

"Shakespeare was a plagiarist" states Shippy.
"Bullshit!" cries I. "Evidence! Solid facts!"
"Fine," says The Shipster, and sends me this:

"Shakespeare the Plagiarist

Shakespeare was a man of many accomplishments. Many were in his writings; others were in his great director and playwright skills. The play Hamlet is one of the most re-created and re-written books to date. Hamlet is still being performed in theaters around the world. Even though many people perceive Shakespeare as a literary genius, we can not give him sole credit for his plays and sonnets.

With a few exceptions, Shakespeare did not invent the plots of his plays. Sometimes he used old stories (Hamlet, Pericles). Sometimes he worked from the stories of comparatively recent Italian writers, such as Boccaccio - using both well-known stories (Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing) and little known ones (Othello). Shakespeare has been proven, by many authors, to have borrowed from the Arts, the Histories and the Sciences. (Britannica Online, http://www.eb.com:180/cgi-bin/g?DocF=macro/5005/75/12.html)
"The first collection of information about sources of Elizabethan plays was published in the 17th century. Gerard Langbaines account of the English Dramatic Poets (1691) briefly indicated where Shakespeare found materials for some plays."(Britannica Online)
It has been shown in this book that Shakespeare quoted his contemporary Christopher Marlowe in As You Like It. He casually refers to the Aethiopica ("Ethiopian history") of Heliodorus (which has been translated by Thomas Undertown in 1569) in Twelfth Night. Chapman's vigorous translation of Homer.
[to view the full essay now, purchase below]
http://www.123helpme.com/preview.asp?id=37713

Fine and Dandy.

To counter that, you could posit that there are, in fact, no new stories. I remember learning in honours that there are around seven unique story structures which can be applied to any complete narrative (whether fact or fiction) published or told ever since language and writing has existed.
I can't bloody remember them all now, but they're things like
The love story (two separate entities come together)
The war story (one entity vanquishes another)
The tragedy (righteous entities experience entropy)
etc
etc

These structures can be applied to almost all stories from Sumerian fart jokes onwards through history to Shakespeare and beyond. If not literally, then metaphorically.
There are no new stories. Just better versions. If Shakespeare ripped off a few ideas from his contemporaries then why aren't we amazed at his talent for reference and pop-cultural appreciation. The Simpsons do it all the time and everybody loves them for it!
I think the greater contribution Shakespeare made to literature was that of the language he used. The beautiful, twisting, perfect words themselves, the phrases and stanzas in which they lived. Plays and plays and plays of the stuff.
I've also heard that he didn't write his own words either, but to that I say: bullshit!

***
GTH - Picture stays the same, points still count for sprightly comments in previous post, but double points to anyone who can supply me with that complete (and short) list of The Seven Story Structures.

21 comments:

  1. No idea, me enlishg no good.

    Character
    Crucible
    Catalyst
    Cause and effect
    Complications
    Crisis
    Climax
    Change

    ReplyDelete
  2. No idea, me enlishg no good.

    Character
    Crucible
    Catalyst
    Cause and effect
    Complications
    Crisis
    Climax
    Change

    ReplyDelete
  3. No idea, me enlishg no good.

    Character
    Crucible
    Catalyst
    Cause and effect
    Complications
    Crisis
    Climax
    Change

    or

    a character
    in a context
    has a problem
    s/he tries to solve the problem
    and fails — tries and fails twice more, stakes escalating
    victory or death
    validation (denouement)

    ReplyDelete
  4. No idea, me enlishg no good.

    Character
    Crucible
    Catalyst
    Cause and effect
    Complications
    Crisis
    Climax
    Change

    or

    a character
    in a context
    has a problem
    s/he tries to solve the problem
    and fails — tries and fails twice more, stakes escalating
    victory or death
    validation (denouement)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I always hated the elitism some shakespeare fans reek of. The i-like-this-because-you-can't-understand-it attitude. It's the same stench that comes from classical music fans that deride popular music.

    The reverence of it is bullshit. The plots are bullshit too, perhaps shakespeare should have written his own rather than rip them off. Romeo and juliet meet once for half an hour and then they are confessing their undying love for one another in soppy soliloquies. Instead of feeling the tragedy of it, I am relieved at the end of their whinging.

    I'm not saying shakespeare is crap, just that it's overrated.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Gotta agree with the 327th Male on this one, and, of people, Prince Charles. He confessed a few years ago that Shakespeare left him "largely unmoved." Me too - I'm all for the recycling of the classic storylines (no idea what the remaining four are though) but to have to wade through some Monarch Notes in order to work out that Macbeth was a tad henpecked wasn't my idea of fun. And I majored in English!

    ReplyDelete
  7. people who deride popular music have stench - but I hate elitism ??? Now there's a confused male

    ReplyDelete
  8. King Lear inspired by an earlier version of King Leir.

    His Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet based on a poem by Arthur Brooke The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet (1562) and in turn prior to that by Italian Matteo Bandello.

    As You Like It - Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge.

    However, Love's Labour's Lost, Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Tempest were original.

    He also took and modified passages from Marlowe.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Shippy - You got it. But one point only - repetitions don't count.
    Actually, I was thinking of a more developed list, but I like this better because it's even further condensed.

    327 - What elitist Shakespeare fans have you been hanging around? Seriously, I'd love to meet one.

    Kath - I loved Shakespeare when I studied it in high school. I had never heard anything so densely packed with meaning and wit. I don't if it's unfashionable, elitist, plagiarised, overly-complex or brainlessly simple. I always feel like I've had a good bit of brain food when I watch some Shakespeare.
    When we went to see the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet at the cinema in year twelve, I was the only one complaining that we were watching the edited two hour version, rather than the complete, four hours.

    Neil - Indeed. 327?

    Shippy - Hydrocarbons not stimulating enough, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Okay, everyone. Shakespeare did borrow a few things (if indeed it WAS Shakespeare that wrote any of it, or the next-likely candidate, Christopher Marlowe)but he's nowhere near as much as a plagiarist as Terry Brooks, who proved that rewriting the lord of the rings can make you one of the world's best selling authors.There is just NO WAY that the Sword of Shannara is NOT LOTR. Hell, even Peter Jackson's screenplay of LOTR has more deviations from the original LOTR books than Shannara does...ok, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but check out Shannara's wikipedia plot summary and its comparisons to LOTR. Now THAT's plagiarism.

    ReplyDelete
  11. There is very strong evidence, presented by some of the finest students of Shakespeare, for the fact that all those plays were not written by him, but by another guy of the same name.

    ReplyDelete
  12. There still exists no painting of William, young or old, none that can be confidently confirmed to be him.

    On the topic, wasn't The Da-Vinci Code by Dan Brown adopted from another book written by some other dudes.

    Franzy - never stimulating enough.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Indeed I am confused neil. Are you suggesting that my disdain for elitism is in itself, elitism?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Franzy love, if you're going to correct Squib on a previous comments section for writing 'would of' instead of 'would have' (which I noticed too by the way but was too polite/scared to point out due to my own littered footpath of typos and ignorance), then you might want to amend the word 'arguement' to 'argument'. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Neil - I think you'll find that it wasn't that guy, but a different guy all together. With the same name.

    Shippy - Hey, there's no painting of me either, but I'm still around.

    Or AM I???

    On The Da Vinci Code and all the ensuing lawsuits, I think Mele said it best when she pointed out that bored Christians have been putting about the "Jesus had a kid" rumour since Jesus was old enough to pick up chicks.

    327 - Perhaps he's taking issue with your derision of Shakespeare fans. After all, they are only elite if they are, in fact, higher up than the rest of us. Which, no matter how snobby they get over El Bardo, we know they aren't. These Shakespeare snobs (I'm still not sure who you mean) are just like any other fan.

    And while I'm on the topic - Classical over Popular Music?
    What would you prefer to listen to?
    Beethoven or Pink?

    Kath, love - I was just slipping that in so she wouldn't feel intimidated by my constently perfect grammar and spelling.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The Bard is The Man!

    It was common for writers to collaborate on things back then and so nothing really surprising there

    http://poetsquib.com/2008/04/01/all-im-saying-shakey/#more-605

    ReplyDelete
  17. "I definitely smell a pork product of some kind" Heh, me too. The people in the unit behind us are barbecuing bacon.
    shakespeare was a plagiarist? Meh. Who cares. Presumably he enjoyed his work, since then, hundreds of people have enjoyed portraying his characters on stage and screen, thousands, nay, millions of people have enjoyed watching such portrayals and English students the world over have enjoyed or made fun of the dissection of his works. The man employed a lot of people. That's not to be sneezed at.
    Those elitist people put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us........

    ReplyDelete
  18. The seven story structures?

    Someone dies at the end
    Someone doesn't die at the end
    Someone dies at the end but they had it coming
    Someone has sex at the end but it's implied
    Someone neither has sex nor dies at the end, but bugger off
    Everything works out
    Everything doesn't work out, but you have to make your own mind up as to the ending because it's a bit arty and they write about a vase instead of literally telling you

    That's my English class covered

    ReplyDelete
  19. the 327th male. Well if it looks like elitism, and it walks like elitism, and it quacks like elitism, then maybe its elitism.

    ReplyDelete

An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32