econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 30 April 2016

'Shakespearification' Obscures The Other Literary And Cultural Treasures Of 1616

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by James Knowles, Brunel University London

This year marks 400 years since the publication of the first volume of poet and playwright Ben Jonson's collected texts, the first complete English translation of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, by poet and translator George Chapman, and the Political Works of King James I, arriving a few years after the King James Bible. Little would contemporaries have guessed that 400 years later these momentous works would be eclipsed by a death in Warwickshire - one William Shakespeare.

It seems now that every Shakespeare anniversary must be marked by a tide of special performances, exhibitions, biographies (even including this year one promised from Boris Johnson) and the usual mugs, T-shirts, commemorative coins, cakes - and the London Book Fair offering "the Shakesperience". Each day, announcements of new anthologies of Shakespeare criticism or "essential" reference volumes flop into the inbox like exhausted seals in search of a suitable rock. We're in danger of being "bard to death" by it all.

Let's not quibble: Shakespeare's work is fabulous. The plays fill us with curiosity and excitement. They force us to think and rethink every time we encounter them on the page, on the stage, in the cinema, or stumble again upon some previously unregarded corner of the canon. Each time it feels like we have grown new ears. But the tsunami of studies, rehashing of critical material, and general commercialisation of "Brand Shakespeare" is exhausting. Do we really need a Shakespeare themed flowerpot to coincide with the 400th anniversary of his death?

We have seen how Stratford-upon-Avon has become a newly-Disnified site of literary pilgrimage, but while this endless Shakespearification (perhaps Shakespeari-fiction?) intends to commemorate a man's great work, it drowns out much of the complexity of reconstructing earlier lives. Indeed, the sun of Avon threatens to blot out all the other voices, lives, and achievements - not only of 1616, but also the incredible richness of the entire late 16th and early 17th centuries' creative culture.

Also appearing in 1616

1616 was the year in which logarithms, the foundation of much of mathematics, were first translated from Scots Latin into English. It was the year in which William Harvey gave the first lectures tracing how the heart pumped blood around the body.

The sexual scandal revealed by the trial of the Earl and Countess of Somersetlink for murder and adultery has given us insights about how news spread, how the personal and political intermingled, how women - even those of the elite - could be treated during that era, and perhaps even marked the start of the de-legitimisation of the Stuart monarchy.

In 1616 Pocahontas was in England, while, from the court of Jahangir in India, Sir Thomas Roe wrote to the Countess of Huntingdon on linen paper, the start of the rise of the East India Company. Yet all this variety - and so much more - gets ridden over in the Shakespearean stampede.

Putting English literature on the map

Benjamin Jonson is as important a literary heavyweight as Shakespeare. Abraham van Blyenberch/National Portrait Gallery

The paradox of celebrating the death of a man whose works fascinate us points towards the other great event of 1616, the publication of The Works of Benjamin Jonson. Scholars argue as to whether this truly is the first publication of vernacular English works in the collected form used by classical texts of authority and significance. But by locating English culture in relation to European literature and the Greek and Roman classics, The Works represents the entrance of a new sense of English identity, and of the potential of English as a language.

Jonson's Works may not have launched the age of the book but it marks the arrival of English literary print culture. Filled with complex margin notes and allusive texts, the publication of The Works also marks the coming of age of critical reading - and the sense of reading and writing as valuable in themselves because they can reshape the ways we understand the world. Jonson's Works can be seen as the foundation text of English literature as a discipline.

Without Jonson's 1616 text, Shakespeare's posthumous 1623 folio is unthinkable, but also unreadable: Jonson gives us the ways to read what were formerly seen as "unconsidered trifles" as serious literature. Homer, the King James Bible, and Jonson are mentioned here from among many others because they combine the classical poetic heritage, the prose (and especially Biblical prose) tradition, and the dramatic world of London theatre, and it is these three that continue to shape so much of our literature - our world literature - today.

Of course, this group is as much a constructed product of critical and intellectual selectivity as the Shakespeare so celebrated at the moment. In 1616 these were not the most radical voices, nor were they the most silenced ones by any means. But, through the rich culture they evoke, they illustrate what can be lost by taking Shakespeare out of all context, as we seem to be doing in 2016.

The ConversationJames Knowles, Vice-Dean of Research and Professor of Renaissance Literature and Culture, Brunel University London

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical Opinion Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Opinion


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
The Expected Effects of Petitions to Improve the Monetary System
Energy and Falling Productivity
News Blog
90% Rally In Sugar Prices Since Late 2015
U.S. Real Wage Growth: Slowing Down With Age - Part 2 Of 2
Infographic Of The Day: Four Tips To Grow Wealth
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Yen Rises, Oil Soft, Wells CEO Gives Up Bonuses, Trump Didn't Want To Embarass Clinton, US Asset Bubbles, US Crime Rates Falling And More
What is Democracy, Anyway?
Transcript Of Elizabeth Warren Questioning Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf
Documentary Of The Week: Elizabeth Warren Indictment Of Wells Fargo
Clinton Wins Round One
Why Alzheimer's Research Is Failing To Hit Treatment Targets
Voters Still Distrust Both Presidential Candidates
What We Read Today 27 September 2016
How To Get People To Exercise
September 2016 Conference Board Consumer Confidence Now At Highest Level Since the Great Recession
Investing Blog
Banks Of Absurdity
Investing.com Technical Summary 27 September 2016
Opinion Blog
Trump Stumped In First Debate With Clinton - Will It Cost Him?
Why All Banks Should Be Federally Owned
Precious Metals Blog
War On Cash Turns To $20, $50, And $100 Bills
Live Markets
27Sep2016 Market Close: US Major Indexes Closed Higher As Commodities Fell, WTI Crude Slipped Three Percent
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved