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R.M. Samarin. Our Closeness to Shakespeare
There is a genetic relationship between modern art and the great discoveries which were made by Shakespeare in the world of poetry and theatre. European and American literature in 19th and 20th centuries — beginning with the Romantics could be regarded as having sprung out of heritage bequeathed by Shakespeare. It is he who first and foremost stands at the source of that new perception and portrayal of reality, ever changing and enriching itself, has since developed in an inexhaustible wealth of different national forms and under different names. There is something greater in our proximity to Shakespeare than to any other great artist of such a remote past.
One of the reasons for our closeness to Shakespeare — and may be it is one of the most important reasons — is that new conception and new portrayal of man which was Shakespeare's greatest discovery.
In Shakespeare's drama man realises himself as an individual. He discovers himself, the surrounding society and his place in it, nature and his unbreakable ties with it.
R. Weіmann. Some Problems of Anglo-American Shakespeare Criticism
Although based on an historical interpretation of the various trends, this is not a history of Shakespearean criticism, but a critique of the dominant attitudes and methods from M. Morgann, S.T. Coleridge, W. Hazlitt to A.C. Bradley and W. Raleigh, and again from E.E. Stoll, Caroline Spurgeon and Wilson Knight to Cleanth Brooks and R.B. Heilman.
The romantic approach towards Shakespeare's plays is seen to centre on a somewhat vaguely conceived fusion of both the poet's and the reader's imaginations, and hence on both the reader's inward experience as an all-important critical touchstone and the poet's life and biography as the ultimate source of the play's imaginative message. Again, this is best conveyed not through the use of language or plot, but through the dramatic characters as «the children of his art» (Raleigh). These, as a matter of course, are not so much criticised as part of a dramatic whole, but their «heart-lore» (Coleridge), their imaginative range and psychological possibilities, are appreciated by the reading of the drama as poetry, which is abstracted from its theatrical purpose.
In contradistinction to the Victorian approach, the most influential modern school, that of the «new critics», attempts to overcome romantic individualism and emotional impressionism, but with even more doubtful results. The interpretation of the play in terms of its spatial pattern, symbolic significance and metaphorical structure and texture, has altogether failed to integrate Shakespearean criticism and scholarship and has only partly liberated them from romantic subjectivism. It not only uproots the drama from its social, cultural and literary setting, but it also dissociates the play's dramatic wholeness and unity, its form and message in favour of a preoccupation with symbols, metaphors and a predominantly one-dimensional linguistic pattern. Thus the «new critics» approach is repudiated; instead, the author proposes a dialectical definition of the aesthetic nature and significance of dramatic imagery which — he believes — ought to be seen in its dramatic functions as well as in its relation to the reality which it expresses and reflects. The formalist approach of the «new criticism» which ignores the historicity of the work of art, is itself a historical phenomenon. Its origins can be traced back to the crisis of bourgeois liberalism, the anti-humanist philosophy of art (most provocatively voiced by T E. Hulme and Ortega Y. Gasset) and — more directly — to the conventions and limitations of contemporary English and American poetry.
Y.P. Shvedov. Concerning Shakespeare's Historical Conception in the «Histories»
The question whether or not Shakespeare's Histories are based on a certain historical conception has already been solved positively in Soviet Shakespearian study, but nevertheless quite a lot of contradictions still remain in the definition of Shakespeare's philosophy of history.
Many of these contradictions are due to the fact that Soviet historiography considers the English Revolution of the 17th century a landmark between the medieval and modern history; accordingly the time of Shakespeare is treated as belonging to the Middle Ages.
The article suggests another date, namely, the battle at Bosworth (1485) as a conventional landmark dividing the medieval English history from the modern time. This suggestion allows to interpret Shakespeare's early Histories as the picture of the medieval England drawn by a modern writer who realizes the leading tendencies of the historical development during the Middle Ages as well as the ultimate political results of this development.
The detailed study of the plays permits to point out that the main item of Shakespeare's conception of history as revealed in the Histories written before 1600 is his firm conviction of the inevitable defeat of the feudal anarchy struggling against the formation of the absolute monarchy. On the contrary, in Henry VIII — the only play based on modern English history — it is impossible to trace any historical conception; this ought to be explained by the fact that Shakespeare has not been able to realize the tendencies determinating the development of contemporary society.
M. Mincoff. The Tragic Principle in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries
Early tragedies seem to suggest little more than that a tragedy should end with death. Still, with the help of the medieval idea of the fickleness of fortune, the general demand for moral teaching, and a good sprinkling of Senecian horrors, a type of tragedy was evolving, tending strongly towards the pattern of crime and punishment, in which hamartia of a very un-Aristotelian kind played an important part, and in which the terror (or admiration, in Sidney's phrase) and the pity were mostly distributed among different persons, thus achieving pathos rather that true tragedy. Aristotelian theories probably had little effect in either case, except through Senecan example. But there was also a definite effort at elevation — through the style, the status of the heroes, mythological introductions and the like, and — especially in Arden of Feversham — hints of a watchful fate suggested through prophecies, tragic irony, and strange coincidences. Marlowe helped to raise this kind of tragedy mainly through sheer craftsmanship, but also through the awe-inspiring figure of the superman, providing a conflict of emotions in the spectator. Kyd, by introducing the theme of revenge (an inversion of the pattern of crime and punishment), created a more fully sympathetic hero — immensely popular as an embodiment of the struggle against aristocratic injustice — and moreover a hero waging an internal struggle against the melancholy that threatens to inhibit action itself and to break into complete madness.
Already in Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare heightened Kyd's tragic effects by making of his hero a more awe-inspiring personality, by making him in part responsible for his sufferings, and above all by a catastrophe that was to remain peculiarly Shakespearian, suggesting the dawn of a happier state of things, to achieve which the sufferings have not been entirely in vain. This type of ending — which achieves an unusually complete catharsis — is very much stressed in the highly experimental Romeo and Juliet where the lovers have to pay the price of their parents' faults. The later tragedies show an increasing variety of tragic effects — the deceived idealist who finds his world toppling about him (Brutus, Hamlet, Othello, Timon), the hero threatened, from various causes, with complete internal disintegration (Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Lear — to some extent Antony), but winning back to his true self (or beyond it in King Lear). Shakespeare does not finish off his tragedies with a moral tag like so many of his contemporaries, but mostly with an assertion of his hero's nobility — pride in the nobility of man is an important factor in the Shakespearian catharsis. None of his contemporaries — except to some extent Chapman — shows such a variety of tragic effects or combines them in such complex ways. If the ultimate tragic effect is the resolution of conflicting emotions, then this complexity of effects and situations, creating a tangle of various emotions, probably contributes materially to the emotional power of Sha kespeare's tragedies.
A. Kettle. «Hamlet»
Shakespeare's Hamlet has at different times and by different scholars been interpreted in almost every possible way. This article is above all an attempt to see the play in its historical context. Shakespeare insists that Hamlet's problem is not purely a personal one. It is wrong to see the play as a psychological study of a neurotic young man (as bourgeois critics tend to treat it). It is the time that is out of joint: something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The discovery of his father's murder and his mother's nature is the occasion of Hamlet's vision of the world but does not in itself explain the significance of that vision.
The article argues that what Hamlet has come to see is the truth about the personal and political relationships within a Renaissance court. A parallel is drawn between Hamlet's view of the world and John Donne's as expressed in his contemporary poem The First Anniversary, the subject of which is the transition from the medieval, feudal world-picture to the new ideas of the developing bourgeois revolution. Hamlet sees the political machinations of Claudius and
the court politicians as morally contemptible and regards his mother and Ophelia as pawns in the hands of Claudius and Polonius.
Hamlet's outlook, it is argued, is basically the outlook of late Renaissance humanism, already well developed in England by 1600. And his hesitation about killing the King comes from his sense that such an action will not of itself solve the sort of dilemma he is faced with. He cannot find actions commensurate with his humanist insights and aspirations. A hundred years earlier he would not have found the same problem; fifty years later (the English people killed their king in 1649) he would have been able to tackle it differently. The movement of the play reflects the movement of Hamlet ideologically from being a prince accepting the ruling-class morality of the 16th century to being a man of the developing bourgeois-democratic revolution. But because Hamlet in the year 1600 cannot solve his problem in action Shakespeare's play ends with a kind of defeat, realistic and unsentimental but sad, and this defeat is reflected in the move from verse to prose in the last act. Hamlet kills the king in the spirit of the old feudal revenge morality and hands on the throne to Fortinbras, a typical old-world feudal prince who understands nothing of what Hamlet has understood. But though Hamlet fails to solve his problem in action, Shakespeare has expressed it in words, and this itself involves a clarification of the problem which is both artistically moving and morally helpful.
К. Muir. «Hamlet»
The sickness imagery in Hamlet has been interpreted in several different ways, but its main function is to contrast the comparative integrity of the hero with the corruption of the Danish court. The same contrast is brought out by a comparison of Hamlet with other characters — the avengers (Laertes and Pyrrhus), the corrupt courtiers (Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Osric), the politician (Polonius), the warrior (Fortinbras). Hamlet develops in the course of the play: in the last act he trusts that providence will provide him an opportunity to kill Claudius. His failure to act was not due to weakness of will or over-reflective intellectualism but because of the situation in which he was placed, in which his apparent duty conflicted with his intuitive understanding.
Zd. Stříbrný. Shakespeare in Czechoslovakia
The tradition of Shakespearian activities is a long one in Czechoslovakia. There are reasons to believe that Shakespeare's plays were
performed in Bohemia and Moravia as soon as during his lifetime and shortly after his death by strolling English (and later German) players. The promising germination of the Shakespearian tradition was stifled by the Thirty Years War 1618—1648 and the following Hapsburg re-feudalization and Germanization of the Czech lands. Only towards the end of the 18th century there came a national awakening which gradually resuscitated Shakespeare as one of its mightiest allies. At this time Macbeth in dramatic form was published in Prague, rendered into Czech by К.H. Thám who was followed by many other translators both in the Czech lands and in Slovakia. Among them was the greatest Czech dramatist of the first half of 19th century, J.K. Tyl, whose translations of King Lear and of scenes from Henry IV are rich in popular idiom and dramatic tension.
The first complete translation of Shakespeare's plays into Czech appeared in separate volumes before and after 1864. It was a collective effort of five translators (F. Doucha, J. Malý, J.R. Čejka, J.J. Kolár, L.J. Celakovský jun), who excelled both in linguistic erudition and in their scholarly and philosophical approach to and dramatic feeling for Shakespeares's originals.
The firts memorable contribution of Czech Shakespearian criticism dates back to 1847 when the Utopian socialist F.M. Klácel applied a keen sense of dialectics and of the social implications of art in his brief but penetrating observations of the dramas of Shakespeare, Goethe and Schiller. By 1864 Czech criticism of Shakespeare reached its first maturity in the reviews and articles of V. Hálek and J. Neruda.
The poetic qualities of Shakespeare's work were fully discovered and creatively expressed around the turn of the 20th century by two great national poets, J.V. Sládek (who translated 33 of the plays into Czech) and P.O. Hviezdoslav (who turned Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream into Slovak).
The tercentenary of Shakespeare's death in 1916 became a great rallying point for Czech and Slovak culture, and was celebrated as a cultural event of national importance.
The period between the two wars was marked by the mounting opposition between two contradictory cultural trends. The leading official producers, notably J. Kvapil and К. H. Hilar, although maintaining a high artistic level, were giving way before the young avant-garde led by such trail-blazing producers as E. F. Burian in Prague, O. Stibor in Olomouc, V. Sulc in Bratislava, or the actor-producer J. Skřivan in Brno.
After the liberation in 1945 a great Shakespearian renaissance set in, having a firm basis in the rapid growth of both professional and amateur theatres. Every year some thirty new Shakespearian productions are staged throughout the country.
V. Phіlipоv. Shakespeare in Bulgaria
The Bulgarian people got acquainted with Shakespeare and his works at the time of our National Revival, shortly before Bulgaria was liberated from the five centuries long Ottoman yoke. Between 1881 and 1900 there appeared 35 translations (including new translations of previously published plays). Up to the present there have been published 24 of Shakespeare's plays in 167 different translations and editions. Lyoubomir Ognyanov-Rizor has now undertaken the task of rendering into Bulgarian all of Shakespeare's dramatic works. Among the translators of Shakespeare one finds the names of such great Bulgarian writers as P. R. Slaveikov, P. Y. Yavorov, Dimcho Debelyanov, Geo Milev and others.
In 1868, ten years before the liberation of Bulgaria, the Svishtov Cultural Club staged Romeo and Juliet. Ever since Shakespeare has figured prominently in the repertoire of all Bulgarian theatres. Outstanding productions have been: Othello (1897), The Merchant of Venice (1907) with Ivan Popov making a name for himself as Shy-lock, N. 0. Massalitinov's productions of Twelfth Night (1926), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1927) and Much Ado About Nothing (1935), Hamlet, which was acted 105 times between 1914 and 1938, with such great masters of the Bulgarian stage as Sava Ognyanov, Vassil Kirkov, Ivan Dimov and K. Kissimov in the title role.
After the Socialist Revolution in 1944 Shakespeare is again among the most popular playwrights on the Bulgarian stage (the National Theatre has acted Twelfth Night 178 times and Romeo and Juliet 167 times).
The first translators were also the first scholars of Shakespeare's dramatic art. Thus, for instance, every one of B. Rainov's 12 translations (published between 1897 and 1902) was accompanied by a lengthy introduction. The number of articles on Shakespeare and his works grew in the years after the First World War. There also appeared separate books treating certain problems of Shakespeare's plays. But of Shakespearean scholarship in the real sense of the word one can speak only when one comes to the works of Prof. Marco Mincoff, Head of the English Department at Sofia State University. Some articles by R. Roussev and L. Ognyanov-Rizor (both translators of Shakespeare's plays), as well as by L. Tenev also deserve mention.
Shakespeare's influence on Bulgarian literature has not yet been studied thoroughly. This influence, however, is quite obvious in the works of a number of writers like V. Droumev, K. Velichkov and P. Yavorov.
N.A. Modestova. Shakespeare in Ukranian Criticism
The works of Shakespeare always were of a vital interest to the progressive Ukranian critics. Shakespeare's plays accompanied T. G. Shevchenko in exile, they sized attention of Lesya Ukrainka, of P. Mirniy, the outstanding managers of Ukranian theater Tobile-vitch brothers. But because of the severe censorship of Czarist government Shakespeare was almost closed in XIX century for the common audience. Only on the eve of the XX century the first Ukranian translations of Shakespeare made by I. Franko and first profound acticles on Shakespeare also written by him were published.
I. Franko as a commentator and translator of Shakespeare was a start and a first step of scientific Ukranian Shakespearean investigations. His works on Shakespeare were inseparable from the fight Franko fought against the nationalism and decadence for the development of progressive Ukranian democratic culture and realistic art. The foreword Franko wrote to Measure for Measure and King Lear are still of great interest and may be ranged among the best contributions to the subject in the Ukraine. An article of Kiev University Professor H. P. Dashkevich on Romeo and Juliet also is of some importance to-day.
The real rise of Ukranian Shakespearean scholarship started up with the October Revolution. Plays of the great English dramatist were to be seen in all the Ukranian theatres, the first articles also come out where Shakespeare's plays were analysed on the basis of Marxist-Leninist criticism. Many of the Ukranian works on Shakespeare appeared during the thirties and especially in connecton with the 375 anniversary of Shakespeare birthday when The Shakesperian Miscellany was edited by Academician A. I. Beletzky.
Some articles of professor S. I. Rodsevitch devoted to the philosophy of Shakespeare are of much consequence, Hamlet and Bacon's philosophy among them. The main problem the works on Shakespeare's historical plays are dealing with is the problem of Shakespeare's political inclinations and his attitude to the people. Some of the works are devoted to the Ukranian stage productions of Shakespeare (I.G. Vanina and others).
V. Alttoа, К. Кasк. Shakespeare in Estonia
The Estonian reader made the acquaintance of Shakespeare in 1881, when E. Bornhône published the first article in Estonian on the great English dramatist. The first translation was of the song «Blow, blow, thou winter wind» (1882). Leaving aside a few short articles
and verse translations, we may date the real beginning of Shakespeare translation from 1910, when A.F. Tombach-Kaljuvald published an Estonian version of Hamlet. This was to remain the only play translated into Estonian before bourgeois times. In the jubilee years of 1914 and 1916 a few brief notices and excerpts from the plays appeared in the newspapers and magazines. Mention should be made of an essay by F. Tuglas (1916), which may be regarded as the first extensive paper on Shakespeare in the Estonian language.
The work of translation gathered momentum under the bourgeois republic. A Midsummer Night's Dream appeared in 1924, King Lear in 1926, and The Merchant of Venice in 1927, while a reprint of Hamlet followed in 1930. From 1929 onwards intensive translation was carried out by Ants Oras, who translated Macbeth and The Tempest in 1929, Romeo and Juliet in 1935 and the Sonnets, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Othello in 1937.
But the main achievements have been recorded in Soviet times. Shortly after the war the Roman tragedies were published in Oras's translation, followed by reprints of Hamlet and King Lear. In preparation for the jubilee anniversary of 1964 the Estonian State Publishers have undertaken the publication of Shakespeare's collected works (translations and commentaries by G. Meri).
Fifteen Shakespeare's plays in fifty one productions were staged in Estonia. The earliest of them (The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew) appeared at the end of 80's in the last century. Othello, King Lear and Hamlet were great successes of 1910—1913 in «Estonia» theatre. T. Altermann as Hamlet and Othello claimed to be the best of the whole cast. These productions were succeeded by those of 1920—1940 within the period of chauvinistic-bourgeois dictatorship. In spite of the reactionary politics of the government in arts the progressive actors and producers manage to discover in Shakespeare vast resources for the increase of national realistic art. It is possible to say so about A. Lauter as Hamlet, H. Paris as Shylock, E. Villmer as Ophelia, Desdemona and Rosalind, A. Särev and E. Tinn as Othello, L. Reiman as Lady Macbeth, H. Gleser as Puck and others. Shakespeare's plays in the pre-Soviet period opened before the Estonian actors the great scope of varieties for the improvement of realism. The contemporary stage craft in Shakespearean productions was brought even to a higher level. Knowledge and experience in combination with the ability to stress the subtliest tints of Shakespeare thought and art inspired Estonian theatre folk for the recent innovations and achievements. Among the best productions of the recent years we should consider Antony and Cleopatra (Tallin Kingissep Theatre 1955, direction of I. Tammur) and The Merchant of Venice («Vaneymuyne», direction of K. Ird).
N.К. Orlovskaya. Shakespeare in Georgia
Shakespeare is among these foreign authors who are wellknown in Georgia. His main works were translated into Georgian as early as XIX century; the most outstanding Georgian writers, critics and actors were entangled with the work on Shakespeare. The story of Shakespearean activity in Georgia is more than of a century length. It begins in 1841 when Dimitry Kipiany made the first Georgian translation of Romeo and Juliet. The early translations of Shakespeare (before 1870) having been then of a considerable importance as introductory ones now are only the relics of past.
The next chapter of the Shakespeare story in Georgia is connected with Ivanhe Machabeli, an eminent translator, who appeared to be a founder of new trends in Shakespearian translation into Georgian. The period of 1880—1890 was due to him for the realistic approach to Shakespeare's plays on the Georgian stage.
Quite a new period of the work on Shakespeare was started up in the Soviet Georgia. The methods of research and translation are improved a lot. The publication in 1953—1958 of the first five volumes of the commented collection of Shakespeare's work in Georgian and the first full translation of sonnets made by G. Gachechiladze (1952) are of vital importance.
A.W. Fevralsky. Meyerhold and Shakespeare
Though Meyerhold never produced Shakespeare in the years of his maturity he was connected with the works of the great dramatist throughout his life. He was much impressed by the productions of Shakespeare while a young man. He appeared as an actor of the Moscow Art Theatre in The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night (1898—1899). Later being a director of New Drama Company he staged A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merchant of Venice (1903—1904). He experimented with the production of two scenes of Hamlet in his Petersburg studio (1915).
In the Soviet period Meyerhold planned the production of Hamlet, but he could not lead it into practice. His remarks and opinions concerning Hamlet show the development of his views and understanding of Shakespeare. Meyerhold made many references in his practice to Shakespeare, mostly Hamlet, he pondered a lot on Shakespeare's influences on Pushkin, compared Shakespeare to Maykovsky, argued the different productions of Hamlet and Othello in other theatres, discussed the problem of text revision in connection with Shakespeare, and tackled the problem of different social approaches to Shakespeare. The remarks of Meyerhold on Shakespeare are a valuable contribution to the Soviet Shakespearean criticism.
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