3 - Shakespeare’s Life
3 – 莎士比亚生平
The poet John Keats once described the true poet’s nature like this: “it has no self - it is every thing and nothing - It has no character - it enjoys light and shade … It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen.” Iago and Imogen are, of course, two characters from Shakespeare’s plays. And Keats’s description resonates deeply with our understanding of Shakespeare.
Emma Smith: I think it's a natural thing to want to know about authors and to understand their biography.
That’s Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Oxford.
And there are lots of biographies of Shakespeare out there. But I think Shakespeare is quite a poor biographical subject because the things we really want to know about him, which are probably. How did he feel? How was it to be him? What were his views on X or Y? Subject? None of them material we've got about his life will tell us that.
But even though Shakespeare didn’t leave behind records of his thoughts, it’s useful to look at what we do know about his life, to understand what might have influenced his work.
Shakespeare grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, a small but prosperous town about a hundred miles outside of London, England’s capital and largest city. Shakespeare’s father, John, was a successful glove-maker and landowner who held important civic offices in the town. William Shakespeare was baptized in Stratford on the 26th of April, 1564, indicating that he had been born a few days before. Today, people around the world traditionally celebrate his birthday on the 23rd of April.
In 1582, when Shakespeare was 18, he married a local woman named Anne Hathaway. She gave birth to their first child Susanna in 1583 and to twins named Hamnet and Judith in 1585. There are no more records to show what Shakespeare was doing in the years following the birth of the twins. But in 1592, a playwright in London named Robert Greene wrote an attack on a fellow play-wright who, Greene claimed, arrogantly saw himself as “the only Shake-scene in a country.” As Greene’s attack makes clear, by the early 1590s, Shakespeare had arrived in London and begun a career that was already causing others to take some notice.
Scholars date the composition of Shakespeare’s earliest plays between 1589 and 1591. These first plays were comedies. They were followed by a three-part drama from English history depicting the War of the Roses. In 1594, Shakespeare joined an acting company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
Emma Smith: Shakespeare is unusual in the organization of his work from pretty early on, from the 1590's onwards. He seems to have been. He seems to have written for a single company, the Lord Chamberlain's man, with whom he had it kind of share what was called a sharers or a shareholder's responsibility. He has a stake in the company. He writes only for that company. And he probably writes on average, two plays for them a year. Most other playwrights of this period are much more like freelancers. They pitch a play or an idea for a play or the scene, perhaps to a theater company. And then the company says, yes, work it up for us. We want it. So someone like Ben Johnson or Owen Marlowe or John Marsden or Thomas Middleton. These are all playwrights who spread themselves about writing for different kinds of companies and theatres, whereas Shakespeare writes for one company.
Together, Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men did extremely well. Shakespeare’s plays were popular both on stage and in print. His poetry also sold well. Shakespeare eventually earned enough to buy property in Stratford and to pay the fees for his father to acquire a coat-of-arms, the mark of a gentleman. And the Lord Chamberlain’s Men earned enough to build a new theatre, called the Globe, on the South Bank of London’s River Thames in 1599. When James I took the throne in 1603, he became the patron of the company, which was renamed the King’s Men.
Around 1611, Shakespeare started a gradual retirement from full-time work and returned to Stratford, where his daughters lived with their husbands and children. (His son, Hamnet, had died in 1596.) He continued to collaborate with the playwright John Fletcher, who succeeded him as resident playwright with the King’s Men. He died on the 23rd of April, 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His will has excited a lot of speculation among scholars, especially about what he meant when he left his wife Anne his “second-best bed.” But Shakespeare’s real legacy was something he never saw. In 1623, a monumental volume was published that contained nearly all the plays that he ever wrote. This volume was titled “Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies,” but is more commonly known today as the First Folio. We’ll discuss it more in the next episode.
Even though the Folio loudly announced Shakespeare’s name, some people have questioned whether William Shakespeare--the glovemaker’s son born and deceased in Stratford-upon-Avon--was really the author of the plays inside the book. These “anti-Stratfordians” don’t believe that a middle-class, small-town man who apparently never attended university could have written works with such a range of characters, places, and subjects and in such brilliant poetic language.
Emma Smith: and in some ways, the whole doubt about whether Shakespeare wrote his plays, the so-called authorship controversy is a problem of biography. There was no question about whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare until the 19th century and not coincidentally, the 19th century was the great age of Shakespearean biography.
The Anti-Stratfordians suggest that the author of the plays must have been someone with a more exotic biography: someone educated and powerful, such as Francis Bacon, the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England; or the Earl of Oxford or Southampton; or perhaps even Queen Elizabeth herself. Shakespeare’s enormous prestige, combined with very limited biographical information, makes it tempting to speculate. But today, the speculation isn’t really taken seriously.
Emma Smith: And it's been a very energetic debate ever since, although debate might be putting it a bit strongly because really almost no professional Shakespeare scholar entertains any doubt at all about whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare
One reason why anti-Stratfordians raise doubts about whether Shakespeare wrote his plays is that the plays range far and wide in their settings--from Scotland to Sicily to Venice, Athens and Egypt. And yet William Shakespeare himself seems never to have left England. It may be true that Shakespeare did not travel widely. But he did read widely. As a young boy in Stratford, Shakespeare would have been educated at the King’s New School. The curriculum, inspired by Renaissance humanism, emphasized reading, writing, and rhetoric, with a focus on Latin classical literature. Shakespeare would have read the Roman playwrights Plautus, Terence, and Seneca; Aesop’s Fables and Ovid’s Metamorphoses; and works on rhetoric by the Roman orator Cicero. These texts influence Shakespeare’s work in countless ways. He borrows plots, for instance, from some of the things he read at school. In fact, most of his plots are borrowed from sources he read over the course of his career. We might see that borrowing as a mark against an author’s creativity. But for Shakespeare’s audiences, this use of other sources showed that Shakespeare was steeped in a respected tradition of reading.
Emma Smith: And it's certainly true that originality has different value in the period when Shakespeare's writing. For us, originality is the real hallmark of what we expect creative art to do. I think that originality would have been very suspicious to Shakespeare's old uses because it would have suggested you didn't know the material. You were supposed to know you didn't you weren't part of the tradition. You are part of the reading and that the kind of knowledge that you supposed to adopt.
Emma Smith: So I think Shakespeare gets most of his material through reading, I think. And often when we know what he's read, we can see that he has carried over that that material or almost intact, rather than that he's brought in personal experience. And if you were a writer in the late 16th century, I don't think that you were encouraged, really, that you thought about writing as being a personal odyssey or a personal confession. You thought about writing as showing your place in a tradition of previous writers by engaging with and rewriting their work.
In our fifth episode, we’ll talk about how you can begin your engagement with Shakespeare and with the long tradition that now surrounds his works. But first, we’ll look more closely at the works themselves. In the next episode, we’ll explore the shape of Shakespeare’s career, looking at what kinds of plays he wrote and seeing how the plays made their way from Shakespeare’s manuscripts to the book you hold in your hands.
嗄千 回复 @波伏娃的房间a: 她老公好像叫亚当舒尔曼，不过长的确实像莎士比亚