The Editorial Problems of Shakespeare’s Plays

Shakespeare’s plays abound in difficulties of reading and interpretation. These mainly arise from printing errors. When such misprints are apparent, the problem or difficulty is not so acute but very often whole phrases and even sentences become the victims of such printer’s devil making them unintelligible even to the learned and erudite. Moreover, the plays were originally meant for performances and not for printing, having served as scripts for actors and not texts for a reading public. Shakespeare also did not edit his own works as did Ben Jonson, which in fact rendered possible variations in reading thus aggravating the editorial difficulties. Pirated editions of Shakespeare’s works and the vagaries of unscrupulous shorthand reporters of Shakespeare’s plays further complicate the matter. It is here that the function of an editor comes into play for he has to cleanse the mess to arrive at a readable text in good print. The editor has to collect or compare the various available texts and make additions and alterations for presenting the text in an intelligent form to the reader. Needless to say, the editors are men of high erudition and in most cases noted Shakespearean scholars.

Bertolt Brecht’s “The Life of Galileo” Is the Changing Consciousness of the World: Responsibility of the Intellectual to Defend His or Her Beliefs In The Face Of Opposition from Established Authorities


The key to Bertolt Brecht’s theatre is the changing consciousness of the world. By this Brecht the most influential German dramatist and theoretician of the theater in the 20th century meant first of all the transforming of social relationship — what he referred to as social overhaul. After the overhaul of society which occurred in German Democratic Republic, Brecht spoke, particularly in his last years, of the transformation of the world, which had become even more urgent because of the possibilities and necessities of the dialectical process. The theatre of the scientific age,” he wrote, “is in a position to make dialectics into a source of enjoyment.” (Brecht on theatre: The Development of an Aesthetics). Social dialectics in moral level results in a moral paradox which is at the root of Brecht’s theatre. It arises throughout his plays from the clash between ends and means, between the intention and the affect, between the individual and the world. The Communist agent who has to be cruel to be kind; Mother Courage who has to deny one child to save another; or Galileo, whose unscrupulous dishonesty makes his research possible but whose betrayal of the truth takes science out of the street and into the service either of a court or of a private study — this increasing and organizing differentiation in the presentation of people and their relationship according to their need, choice and end with each other subtly develops in the community a strength which it needs for larger change. This is theatre as a consciousness which does not merely picture the world but produces it: as Lenin remarked, “Human consciousness not only reflects the objective world but also creates it.”
Leben des Galilei (1955; Galileo, 1947) deals with the responsibility of the intellectual to defend his or her beliefs in the face of opposition from established authorities, in Galileo’s case the Roman Catholic Church. In life of Galileo in particular this reflection of objective world & ultimately the creation of “new ethics” of the “new world” is quite apparent. It is the changing “human consciousness’ of Andrea, the nearest & dearest disciple of Galileo, though whom the dialectically synthesized character of Galileo & the characteristics of the “new age” are projected. Through his verbal repartee with Galileo a light is thrown on Galileo’s theme of research: “everything moves”. Galileo further says, “Where belief has prevailed for a thousand years, doubt now prevails”. “...a great desire has arisen to fathom the causes of all things’. / “And then it may happen that a suspicion arises, for new experience/makes the established truth open to question. Doubt spreads/And then one day a man thoughtfully strikes it out/From the record of knowledge. (In praise of Doubt, Brecht). Now Andrea sings a song almost like Greek chorus with Galileo, the iconoclast ‘man” of this play:
Oh happy morning of beginning
Oh scent of winds from new and distant shores”.

Introduction to Shakespeare’s Comedies: Discussing Number of Shared Features


The term comedy originally meant merely a play with a happy ending, as distinct from a tragedy with its unhappy ending. The modern definition of comedy is more biased towards laughter, and this can cause some confusion when a student first turns to a Shakespearian comedy. Shakespeare’s comedies are funny, and the make audiences’ laugh, but they do not only do that. They can have very serious elements in their themes and plot, and often concern themselves with some of the weaker aspects of human nature. This explanation is possibly only necessary for those brought up on a diet of filmed television comedy, with maniac laughter from a tape or cassette surfacing every few seconds on the sound track, and comedy taken to mean that at no time must anything serious take place or be mentioned to the audience, unless it is to be instantly deflated or mocked. Good comedy has always had a serious dement in it. The circus clown is felony, but also often a pathetic figure. Someone for whom things never go right and someone for whom life is manually out of control. Much humour derives from potentially serious situations where people demean themselves or make themselves look ridiculous — the man whose trousers fall down in public, or the person who slips on a banana skin are classic examples. Many successful films or television serials a comic nature has been based on situations of desperate seriousness. The British series Steptoe and Son had at its heart an old man unscrupulously hanging on to his son and refusing to let him leave home or have a life independent of his father Shakespeare’s best known comic character (who, incidentally, appears for the most part in the history plays, not the comedies) is obscenely fat, robber, liar, braggart, cheat, diseased, drunk, and totally without moral scruple or any feeling except selfishness. Thus comedy is not merely laughter: in practice all good comedy has had a marked vein of seriousness in it.

Popular Posts