In a message dated 2/28/2016 1:41:43 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
I’ve been reading Steinbeck’s letters describing his responses to a
similar situation. They’re not helpful; his play failed.
Or 'flopped', as the Americans have it.
i. Steinbeck's play failed.
may trigger a different implicature from (or 'than' as Anderson Cooper
ii. Steinbeck's play was a flop.
Coward -- that's Sir Noel -- tried always to guarantee the success of HIS
plays by having _stars_ in them. This was not always the case:
iii. Rehearsal assistant (to Coward): Tallulah is here.
Coward: Tallulah who?
Ritchie goes on, alla Blake -- "And did those feet" -- starting a sentenc
with an "And":
"And what if I’ve written a squib? Here’s Steinbeck on that subject, “I
have not written to you since my play fell on its face. And it really did…"
Brigitte Clarke, a psychologist, has studied the misuse -- she thinks -- of
'really' in this case -- as in the recent "The Danish Girl" -- LILI ELBE:
I'll become a woman. FRIEND: A real woman? --. For here we have variants on
iv. Steinbeck's play fell on its face.
v. STENBECK ACQUAINTANCE: Steinbeck's play fell on its face.
ANOTHER STEINBECK ACQUAINTANCE: You mean on the play's face. I didn't
know they have one.
STEINBECK ACQUAINTANCE: No, really: it really did fall on its face, if
you know what I mean.
ANOTHER STEINBECK ACQUAINTANCE: Oh, I see you are *implicating* --
sorry 'baht that!
Ritchie quotes on from this letter by Steinbeck:
"It", i.e. the play, "was a good piece of work and a lot of people are
pretty mad at the critics for destroying it. It is very easy to blame the
critics. They were not at fault. It was not a good play."
Steinbeck seems to be saying that
vi. "The play fell on its face +> It was not a good play.
Although McEvoy would possibly qualify that to read
vi(a). It was not a good play in some respects.
vi(b). It was a good play in some respects -- it was a hell of a good piece
"It was a hell of a good piece of writing but it lacked the curious thing
no one has ever defined which makes a play quite different from everything
else in the world."
This curious thing is like St. Augustine on time, "one curious thing no one
has ever defined," but everyone knows that it is: time. For Popper, who
was against 'definitions', Steinbeck's comment on that curious thing that "no
one has ever defined" would probably trouble him not much.
"I don’t know what that quality is but I know it when I hear it on stage.
I guess we have to go back to the cliché ‘magic of the theatre.’"
vii. Steinbeck's play allowed you feel the smell of the crowd, and the roar
of the greaspaint.
I wonder who originated the cliché, the 'magic of the theatre'. Some think
it was Mr. Mestoffelees, but Geary disagrees (vide his, "Dictionary of Old
French Clichés," 3rd reprint).
Steinbeck concludes his letter:
"This thing read wonderfully but it just did not play."
viii. Steinbeck's play was a flop. The thing read well, though.
ix. Steinbeck's play read well.
is short for the more cumbersome, but more literal -- less implicatural --:
x. When you read Steinbeck's play -- as per what actors call 'play reading'
sessions --, the thing is fun -- provided it's read well.
"And furthermore I don’t know what would make it play."
Steinbeck is engaged in a zeugma:
xi. Who knows what would make Steinbeck's play play.
"I’m telling you all this so you will see that I am not the least bit angry
or upset. In fact I am hard at work on my new novel."
The implicature seems to be that he cannot be angry or upset if hard at
work on his new novel. There is a further implicature (by the opposites of
'angry and/or upset': Steinbeck is ultra-happy. Which he was, you know. Only
his wife never used "my husband's new novel": it was always "my husband's
NEWEST novel" to her.
In case McEvoy wonders, this is like a Wason Test, only different, since
Steinbeck married thrice: to Carol Henning, to Gwyn Conger, and to Elaine
Scott (implicature: in that order).
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