Tuesday, May 26, 2009

McWhorter on Shakespeare

I thought John McWhorter's argument for "translating" Shakespeare, made HERE and HERE, to be dopey.  Of course, I say as much in the commentary thread, since I'm greatly irked by thinking someone--especially an academic--is not giving audiences enough credit for intelligence and curiosity.  

What do I think is "elitist?"  Assuming people without specialized training or education can't relate to experiences they have not themselves lived, an assumption once made by so-called 'multi-culturalism' advocates of the late 1980s and early 1990s (and of whom I detect a whiff in McWhorter), a period in academe I hope never to relive....

UPDATE:  I jut read Leon Weiseltier's current "Diarist" entry in The New Republic, which you can find HERE.  It is an eloquent, if unintended, rejoinder to McWhorter (and 'multiculturalism').

1 comment:

NC said...

I don't think the essay was stupid at all. I think the assessment of audiences enduring a cultural event while attending Shakespeare is largely accurate. Personally I find many productions very tedious. And I'm someone that has studied and loves many of his plays.
My take on the essay is that there's a place for Shakespeare in the original and there's a more popular need for modern poetic translations as the plays are presented in non-English speaking countries. I don't think he means Scotland, PA or a Midsummer Night's Rave.
I'm not sure what you mean exactly when you say Shakespeare is more popular than ever or something to that effect. I don't doubt that you regularly encounter initiated and articulate fans of the Bard. But honestly how large are these audiences, David? From my view the
audiences are getting smaller and I don't know many civilians that get a special twinkle in their at the prospect of going to see Shakespeare.