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Four Comedies : The Braggart Soldier, The Brothers Menaechmus, The Haunted…
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I didn't find these funny or very entertaining. Only read this because it was given to me and because of Shakespeare. Other then that, I don't really recommend his plays. It says he's inspirational, which I agree for a period in time, but he's also forgotten. ( )
I did some research before choosing a translation. There’s a rather good essay knocking about somewhere on the internet that recommends Segal’s translations. I can’t find it now, but I took the chap’s advice. I got off to rather a rocky start.
The Braggart Soldier has puns and word-play and lively poetry, yet all this talent is in service of buffoonery and clowning about. As it happens, I read Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ history of Rome last year and what struck me was that Rome at this time was not the great civilisation we all know and love. At this time the Romans were a bunch of semi-literate barbarians with no native culture worth exporting. Rome was a fort in which they kept their slaves. Livius Andronicus had staged the first play in Rome in 240 BC, when Plautus was 14. It didn’t come as much of a surprise that what the Roman’s had chosen to preserve was as low-brow as you can get. Not that I have anything against low-brow. The Braggart Soldier reminded me of a Mr Bean episode. I’ve not seen a script for one but I bet you could scribble it down on a tissue. Not much fun to be had in reading it. The glory of Mr Bean is all in the physical performance. I reckon if you could get a couple of physical comedy geniuses like Rowan Atkinson and Andrew Sachs then this play would be a success on the stage. Reading the bare text isn’t much fun. Still, I figured I’d finish the book.
Next up was The Brothers Menaechmus. I understand that Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors is a reboot, but can’t compare as I’ve not read it. Menaechmus is a pleasure to read. Simplistic perhaps, compared to what playwrights got up to during the Renaissance, but nevertheless and good, solid piece of writing. Complex enough considering that Plautus’s audience was most probably drunk. I enjoyed it.
But this is the book that keeps giving. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that The Haunted House is a masterpiece. Tranio’s speech at line 348 is a masterclass in how to write. I would wish more writers would play attention, but I’m sure I see a direct influence here on Faulty Towers. Take a look at the episode ‘The Builders’. Basil is the analogue of Tranio and Sybil is Theopropides. Just as Tranio gets up to mischief in Theopropides’ absence, so Basil does in Sybil’s. Tranio’s terrified speech on the return of Theopropides at line 348 matches Basil’s when he realises Sybil is coming back and will realise what he’s done. The whole sequence where Tranio pulls the wool over Theopropides’ eyes is mirrored in Basil doing the same to Sybil, and you’ll notice buildings and building works are involved in both instances. Finally Theopropides discovers the truth and at first Tranio doesn’t know that he knows, just as, for a few moments Basil and Mr O’Reilly don’t know Sybil knows. There’s also the farcical scene where Callidamates is carried off drunk. I realise Faulty Towers is a farce and this kind of thing is common (normally corpses), but Manuel is carried at one point. And Tranio’s joke at line 359 about crucifixion reminded me of Life of Brian: “Right, hands up if you don’t want to be crucified”.
I’ll have to switch to a different translator as there are all Segal wrote, but I’ll be dipping into Plautus again.
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)
Plautus was the single greatest influence on Western comedy. Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors and Moliere's The Miser are two subsequent classics directly based on Plautine originals.Plautus himself borrowed from the Greeks, but his jokes, rapid dialogue, bawdy humour, and irreverent characterizations are the original work of an undisputed genius. The comedies printed here show him at his best, and professor Segal's translations keep their fast, rollicking pace intact, makingthese the most readable and actable versions available. His introduction considers Plautus' place in ancient comedy, examines his continuing influence, and celebrates his power to entertain.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)872.01 — Literature Latin Latin drama –500
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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