Thursday, November 26, 2009

November 26: Shakespeare Should Be Heard (Vol. 27, pp. 299-310)

Charles Lamb's "On the Tragedies of Shakespeare," makes the counterintuitive observation that the Bard's work should be read in a book rather than performed on a stage.

Lamb, a 19th century English essayist, is credited (or blamed, if you're not a fan) with reviving interest in Shakespeare's work. He believed that Shakespeare's plays "are less calculated for performance on a stage than those of almost any dramatist whatever."

Why? Because Lamb believed their excellence stems from the way they are filled with "so much in them, which comes not under the province of acting, with which eye, and tone, and gesture, have nothing to do."

In other words, Shakespeare's writing is so strong on its own that performing the plays on stage adds little to their enjoyment.

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