Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Baconburg? Porkville?

Arch-critic, Glam Girl, shows the world why it's all wrong about William Shakespeare. Quoth she, speaking of some overwrought, underpunctuated, johnny-come-lately excuse for Renaissance tragedy, "I think it's an ok book but needs to be improved on structure and also punctuation and sentences do not make sense to me. If it is to long people won't be bothered to read it and also it is boring so why would they read it in the first place."

Fat and scant of breath.


Ampersand Duck said...

Damn. I clicked her name to see if she's reviewed anything else but I guess the world's not yet ready for her particular sense of wonder.

Or she's not actually read anything.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Fear not, Duck. It's only a matter of time before her critical prowess sinks the deadweight of English letters. You know who I mean: James Joyce, Edith Wharton, the usual suspects.

TimT said...

GASP! She's right! I will immediately throw out my first edition Shakespeare folio and confine myself in future to reading only literary masterpieces, like HOW TO FIND THE UNDERWEAR THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU, SNAG YOUR DREAM MAN, AND GO ON THE ULTIMATE DIET, ALL IN FIVE SECONDS, and THE DOLLY PUNCTUATION QUIZ - FOR GELS WHO LIKE THEIR FULLS TO BE STOPPED, AND THEIR SEMIS TO BE COLONED!

eyrie said...

Maybe I'm a spoilsport, but fish, bucket, shoot.

TimT said...

Maybe so, but it's a great example of the blogging condition: everyone's a critic, and everyone is afflicted with that critical delusion - 'There's always someone stupider than yourself'.

It's handy if that someone is famous and dead, because you look impressive criticising them, and they probably won't criticse you back.

Maria said...

I actually agree with Glam Girl. There's a large chunk of people who wouldn't read James Joyce or the Bard except under duress, and find it far to long for their attention spans. And probably many are invited to her pyjama parties.

There's nothin' at all wrong with wanting them short and snappy (except I must say I feel a little cheated when I buy a 200 page book and it's priced the same as a 600 page book), if that's what you like.

I myself had lots of fun with a very much recommended picture book called "Today I will Fly" recently. Short on words, big on charisma.

The rhymes put the Bard to shame, perhaps because the word "fly" was repeated over and over.

And I think a pink pig attempting to fly is a winner storyline. Hamlet, eat your heart out.

"Today I will Fly"
"To Be Or Not to Be"

I know which one grabs me and begs to be shouted aloud.

TimT said...

How about children's book version of Shakespearean tragedies? That might work.

Here is Mrs Hamlet. Here is Mr Hamlet. See how happy they are!

But what is Mrs Hamlet doing with that knife? What can she be doing with that knife?

See Mrs Hamlet stab Mr Hamlet. Stab stab stab! Stab stab stab! See how angry she is!

Here is Prince Hamlet. He is sad. Why is he sad? So so sad! Poor Prince Hamlet...

(etc, etc).

Actually, I reckon you can't go past King Lear for sheer dramatic verve, plot, and/or eye-gouging. That'd make a real romp of a kid's book.

Ampersand Duck said...

You would be a modern-day Charles Lamb, TimT! A hero to your generation.

TimT said...

I wonder if a modern-day Charles Lamb would have the same problem as the Romantic Charles Lamb?

I have had playmates, I have had companions,
In my days of blogging, in my chatroom days -
All, all are taken from me, the old familiar Facebooks...

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Good point, Eyrie. I'm harpooning tiddlers in a noodle bowl. Weak against temptation.

Maria said...

I did a children's stage version of Romeo and Juliet when in primary school, TimT.

We didn't understand the balcony scene at all, so Juliet said "Wherefore art thou Romeo?"

And Romeo popped up and yelled out "I'm over here!"

I think a Dr Seuss version of Shakespeare might be an interesting attempt. "You are King Lear? King Lear, I hear." "Do you love me daughters dear, do you love your dear King Lear? Is it King Lear you cheer and fear? Say you love me, daughters dear." "Cordelia, you I'll disown, Then I take the jump from the throne!"

eyrie said...

Hasn't John Marsden recently written a YA novel based on Hamlet? May not have as much charm as the Lambs though (don't forget Mary!). I also saw a new comic book series of the plays a while back, which seemed to be pitched at the YA market.


Given that Glamgirl is probably all of 13 or 14 years old, she's probably not thinking about looking impressive (and, in any case, I think Shakespeare is big enough to withstand her criticism). What she's really saying is not "Shakespeare is a load of cod's wallop", but "I don't understand the unfamiliar language and no one has sat down and worked through it with me". At least, that's how I would read it if I was her teacher. The web is an outlet for her frustration.

Maria said...

Shakespeare is not really pitched for modern 13 and 14 year old girls of Glam Girl's interests, and her comments are valid. She doesn't find it works for her.

I am sure a look of bemusement and lack of laughter when reading Wilde to a two-year-old, or the boredom showed as your toddler toddles off when reading Plato to her doesn't mean the works are lousy OR that the "critique" is invalid. Wrong audience for wrong material.

And I agree with eyrie that Shakespeare is big enough to take the criticism. In fact, I'm sure his feelings dont' get hurt much when he's dead, and his ego gets pumped continuously so a few little pin-pricks are probably not going to ... (ah whatever. I was going to write "kill him" but then I already made the point he was dead.)

lucy tartan said...

She strikes me as rather more sure of herself than most 13/14 year olds tend to be. I think this is an undergraduate or at least an upper-level secondary schooler. The whining about grammar is revenge I imagine. 'Needs to be improved' alas is the sort of weasel phrase I resort to when annotating the writing of a student who seems likely to resent corrections and criticisms.

I don't know. Even if she is a youth of such callowness, 'what she is really saying' is what she has written, and Alexis is right, it's vapid.

eyrie said...

I think that maybe I took the tone differently (the choice of pseudonym also suggested youth to me, but I still think it unlikely that this is an undergraduate). Her criticism is not especially aggressive until the outburst at the end about the play being long and boring (which is a very naive remark, framed in such a way as to suggest that she doesn't make any distinction in her approach to Shakespeare and her approach to contemporary authors).

Aside from perhaps the end, what is cocky about it is principally the fact that it is about Shakespeare (if this was an undergraduate's work there would surely be a more overt awareness of the iconoclasm of "attacking" Shakespeare). Otherwise, it hedges and qualifies itself and generally reads like a school book report. "I think it's an OK book"- this qualifies her position somewhat and isn't exactly a demand that copies of Hamlet be burnt. "[S]entences do not make sense *to me*"- She frames her criticism in terms of her personal response to the text, rather than asserting that the sentences make no sense at all. Her efforts to articulate the specific features that are the problem (structure, punctuation, length etc) suggest to me a younger student who probably isn't sophisticated enough to have much awareness of literary history (it's like she's trying to "be fair" to Shakespeare)- an undergraduate on an iconoclastic kick would be much more dismissive than that.

Anyway, maybe I am a little too willing to give everyone and everything a go.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

For all we know Glam Girl is a staggering ironist with a wit of solid titanium. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think her review of Hamlet was a great gallumphing larf. Thirteen year olds handreared on seven volumes of Harry Potter aren't going to seriously think that Hamlet's too long.

Glam Girl, you are the Swift of our age. I salute thee.