Sunday, March 3, 2019

March 2019


This time it’s been Love’s Labour’s Lost that has highlighted our Shakespeare month. My text is called ‘Mockery and Merriment’(see below).
But first, as always, I appeal to visitors of this blog that Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it. Thank you! Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

Available for those of you in Great Britain and Europe on this site:

Or in Sweden
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare sightings:
  • The City of Silk and Steel by Mike, Linda and Louise Carey doesn’t really have a Shakespeare reference but almost a quote: Villain Jamal to his enemy Zuleika, ‘How goes it with you, Lady?’ Close enough!
  • Dagens Nyheter has had reports on the new productions of Hamlet, at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, for example.
  • On TVs Kulturnytt we were informed, in connection with the abovementioned production, that Hamlet was the first Shakespeare play performed in Sweden and that was 200 years ago. This is the seventh time (at this theatre I assume they mean) and the first time it’s directed by a woman, Sofia Jupither. The reviewer Anna Hedelius liked it.
  • In Practicing New Historicism Stephen Greenblatt and his co-author Catherine Gallagher refer many times to Hamlet.


Further since last time:
  • Watched: the Globe version of Love’s Labour’s Lost.


Posted this month



Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

Read more about my alter ego’s books on:



Love's Labour's Lost - Mockery and Merriment


Mockery and Merriment
in
Love’s Labour’s Lost

     Shakespeare has a lot of love stories in his plays but many of them are filled with cruelty. Orsino threatens to kill Viola. Claudio accuses Hero of being a whore. Demetrius and Lysander insult, threaten and abandon Helena and Hermia. Et cetera.
     But in Love’s Labour’s Lost the men are quite sincerely and kindly in love and the women, well, they are too, though they mock and ridicule their wooers and do very little passionate swooning. When it comes right down to it, they make demands on their men – a year of various sacrifices – before they will consider marriage.
     The exchanges between the four pairs of lovers and the triangle of Armado, Costard and Jaquenetta, are merry enough and the mocking is gentle and humorous. But the mockery of the women for the men is nothing compared to how the play itself mocks love – oh, these silly young men and their love!  Mocks oaths – Shakespeare is filled with broken oaths but rarely so humorously as here. Mocks scholars and ivory tower learning and passionate poetic pedants.
     All in the warmest tone of merriment. Words piled on words, tongue-twisting tirades and joyful punning. The characters themselves repeatedly mention the mocking and the merriment. It’s almost as though they know that Shakespeare is having great fun writing the play, and they’re having great fun living in it.
     And so, though we breathlessly fail to keep up with the exuberant loquaciousness, it is great fun both reading and watching this play.
     Oh, Hamlet, words, words, words can be so wonderful!

Film seen this time:
 ·       Globe version, 2010.  Director: Dominic Dromgoole. Good cast led by Michelle Terry as the Princess. Very enjoyable.

Read ‘Finding a Few Things’ in Shakespeare calling – the book available here:

Sunday, February 3, 2019

February 2019


February 2019
Another quiet Shakespeare month but not without its highlights. See the report below.

But first, as always, I appeal to visitors of this blog - Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it. Thank you! Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

Available for those of you in Great Britain and Europe on this site:

Or in Sweden
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In Radical Tragedy by Jonathan Dollimore the author deals with Coriolanus, Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear and a few others but being a Shakespeare freak I wish the whole book had been about Shakespeare.
  • In Happiness by Aminatta Forna, Quell, the friend and colleague of trauma psychiatrist Attila, muses that they are ‘the “somebody” people who have no bloody intention of doing something themselves mean when they say somebody must do something. I blame books, films, all that nonsense…. There’s always a bloody hero who makes it all good. At least in Shakespeare the whole lot die in the end. Lear is wonderful for that. It’s the reward you get for suffering through it. That’s why there’s always so much applause.’ Attila: ‘In the Comedies everything works out.’ Quell: ‘See what I mean.’ Good one, Quell! A brilliant book all the way through.
  •  In Practicing New Historicism by Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt, in discussing how an anecdote may reflect reality reference is made to Owain Glyndwr in Henry IV Part 1 where he makes the claim, ‘I can call spirits from the vasty deep,’ to which Hotspur replies mockingly, ‘Why so can I, and so can any man, but will they come when you do call for them?’
  • In Space Opera by Catherynne M Valente in which there have been a lot of galactic wars, someone had written sonnets that would make Shakespeare want to give up and go back to glove making. Later someone is reciting poetry: Quoth the Raven, to be or not to be, that is the question…in form how like an angel…’ Still later some characters were trying to remember Shakespeare’s sonnets. The novel was amusing at times but generally it wasn’t Shakespeare.
  • Clara is talking to a colleague about planning their Shakespeare class and the 12th Doctor thinks he’s her boyfriend. He’s wrong.
  • ‘Macbeth shall sleep no more.’ The 12th Doctor says that sleep is blessed when, in the 38th century, sleep has been made redundant so that people can work more.


Further since last time:
  • Read aloud with Hal: Love’s Labour’s Lost. A text will come next time.
  • Watched: Love’s Labour’s Lost, the Branagh version.
  • Saw: Macbeth with Framteatern in Hjorthagen in Stockholm. A very interesting interpretation with bits of Ionesco and Brecht. Well done!
  • Finished reading: Radical Tragedy by Jonathan Dollimore in which he analyses the radical politics of some of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s quite exciting.
  •  

Posted this month
  • This report

Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

Read more about my alter ego’s books on:


Monday, January 7, 2019

January 2019


January 2019

Happy New Year! ‘Joy, gentle friends! Joy and fresh days of love accompany your hearts!’ That’s a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream so it’s the wrong end of the year but the sentiment fits well with the beginning of a new year.

Not a lot of Shakespeare going on over the holidays for us, so on to the report.

But first, as always, I appeal to visitors of this blog that Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it. Thank you! Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

Available for those of you in Great Britain and Europe on this site:

Or in Sweden
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In Tana French’s excellent The Trespasser the coroner describes the victim as a fan fiction kind of girl. In one of her (the victim, not the coroner) favourites, Juliet wakes up early and she and Romeo live happily ever after.
  • In This House Is Haunted by John Boyne, the main character Eliza threatens to bring along The Complete Works of Shakespeare in case she’s made to wait for her appointment with the lawyer.


Further since last time:
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier, based on Othello
  • Saw: the play Shakespeare in Love at Stockholm’s Stadsteater. It could never live up to the film and it was annoyingly slapstick but the two leads were good and the décor and staging were brilliant so it was well worth seeing.
  • Had: several signings in the Stockholm area with my alter ego Rhuddem Gwelin of Shakespeare calling – the book and The Merlin Chronicles.
  • Planned: the official launch of An Isle Full of Noises – The Merlin Chronicles Volume 3 at the English Bookshop in Stockholm.
  • Booked: Tickets to Macbeth with an excellent local amateur acting troop.
  • Started reading: Radical Tragedy by Jonathan Dollimore in which he analyses the radical politics of some of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s quite exciting.


Posted this month
  • This report


Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

Read more about my alter ego’s books on:



Monday, December 24, 2018

THE BOOK THE BOOK THE BOOK


THE BOOK THE BOOK THE BOOK 

Dear Shakespeare friends,
Thank you all who visited this blog in 2018.  Almost 100,000 of you!

And a huge thank you to those of you who bought Shakespeare Calling – the book, to those of you who asked your local library and schools to buy it, who told your friends about it or who gave it away as a gift. Without your help in promoting the sales of the book, this project could not continue.
If more of you bought the book, or encouraged others to buy it, the publisher would have to print a second edition. Wouldn’t that be lovely? An admirable goal for 2019!
Happy New Year!

Shakespeare calling – the book
‘So generous, so humorous, so wise.’ Kent Hägglund, Svenska shakespearesällskapet


Available for those of you in Great Britain and Europe on this site:

or
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare appears on these links too:

Sunday, December 2, 2018

December 2018


An Isle Full of Noises – The Merlin Chronicles Volume 3, by my alter ego Rhuddem Gwelin, is at the printer. Shakespeare and Merlin are about to make their entrance into the world of books.

But there have been other Shakespeare things to report as well. So I will.

But first, as always, I will mention to visitors of this blog that Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it. Thank you! Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

Available for those of you in Great Britain and Europe on this site:

or
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, which isn’t worth reading despite the Shakespeare reference, the intergalactic soldiers are asked what they miss from their lives on earth and one answers, ‘Shakespeare in the Park… My last night on Earth, I saw a production of Macbeth that was just perfection.’ Later the main character tells about meeting his future wife while working with her on a high school production of Romeo and Juliet and quoting the love scenes to her.
  • In Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight the main character Karou explains to her friend Zuzana why she no longer loves Akiva: ‘You know how, at the end of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet wakes up in the crypt and Romeo’s already dead? He thought she was dead so he killed himself right next to her...? Well, imagine if she woke up and he was still alive, but… he had killed her whole family. And burned her city. And killed and enslaved her people.’ A grim but quite good fantasy book.
  • In She-Wolves the author Helen Castor has so far only used the much- (over?) used quote about discretion being the better part of valour, but in the up-coming chapters she writes about Margaret, Henry VI’s queen, so I’m expecting more.
  • In The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud one of the bad guys had given ‘an intense performance of Othello’. He later informed the heroes that he had also done Hamlet and many other Shakespeare characters. In the end our hero Lockwood tripped him up because of this. A fun book in many ways.
  • On Sverige Idag – Kultur (on TV: Sweden today – culture) it was reported that something was rotten in the western city of Karlstad where an opera, having a laugh a both opera and Shakespeare, was performed. That would have been fun to see.
  • In New Boy, the retelling of Othello by Tracy Chevalier (see below)
    • The teacher had chosen words from Shakespeare which contained silent letters, for example ‘sword’.
    • Dee and her friends had watched Romeo and Juliet on TV recently and her friend Mimi had fallen for Romeo. Their friend Jennifer said, ‘Who did she say Shakespeare is?’ To which Dee answered, ‘You know! He wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
    • When Mimi sees O and Dee together she thinks their black and white arms together ‘was the sexiest thing she had ever seen, even more powerful than Romeo and Juliet making out during the balcony scene.’


Further since last time:
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Watched: the Globe production of same on DVD.
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier, based on Othello
  • An Isle Full of Noises – The Merlin Chronicles Volume 3 see above…
  • Watched: Gnomeo and Juliet


The insult for today, 3 December 2018: ‘What, you are as a candle, the better part burnt out.’ Henry IV Part 2.

Posted this month
  • ‘What others think’ in The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • This report



Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

Read more about my alter ego’s books on:




The Merry Wives of Windsor - what others think


What Others Think
about
The Merry Wives of Windsor

     To be honest, I’m so satisfied with my first text on this play, ‘Wise wives and laundry baskets’ (pp 210-215 in Shakespeare Calling – the book) that I don’t have anything to add this time. So I’ll let others speak. Not that many do, at least not in the books I have.
     For example, A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare only mentions the play in passing in a list of plays that use the word ‘whore’. Disappointing. There is so much more feminist analysis that could have been done.
     Marjorie Garber in her Shakespeare after all comes with little that is new, nor does Soliloquy the Shakespeare monologues the Women.  Language is mentioned, as well it should be, the rise of the ‘middle class’, i.e. the bourgeoisie, is dealt with slightly, Falstaff’s character is touched upon. Nothing too thrilling.
     A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works – the comedies offers a more serious analysis in the essay ‘Unhusbanding Desires in Windsor’ by Wendy Wall. One key sentence sums it up well: ‘…the play affirms female domestic authority and middle class ethics over and above an aristocratic male drive for power, while rooting national identity in bourgeois domestic life’ (p. 378). Well put.
     In the introduction to the play in The Complete Works there is an interesting reference to 17th century author Margaret Cavendish who ‘singled out those wives as particularly strong examples of Shakespeare’s gift for representing women’ and quotes her: ‘…who could describe Cleopatra better than he hath done, and many other females in his own creating, as Nan Page, Mrs Page, Mrs Ford, the Doctor’s Maid, Beatrice, Mrs Quickly, Doll Tearsheet, and others, too many to relate?’ (p. 102)
     The introduction to the Norton Shakespeare based on the Oxford Edition is, as always, spot on. This time Walter Cohen is the author and he starts his analysis with a bang, with a quote from a letter from Friedrich Engels to Karl Marx: ‘The first act of The Merry Wives of Windsor alone contains more life and reality than all German literature’ (p. 1255). The whole introduction is filled with Cohen’s pungent observances: ‘The play takes a jaundiced view of nearly every character with a claim to social standing’ (p. 1255). ‘Is the wives’ triumph…a victory for middle class women… middle class women, or both? (p.1259) ‘…the result is not the expected expulsion of the predatory courtier by a unified town but the undoing of nearly all positions of authority’ (p. 1261). And finally: ‘Its strength lies in its cheerful capacity to absorb all comers…’ (p. 1262).
     Cheerful indeed. This is one of Shakespeare’s funniest plays and though, like all his other comedies it deals with darker aspects of human relationships and society oppression, it’s essentially a kind play, and very very merry.

Works cited:
  • Companion to Shakespeare’s Works – the comedies (eds Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard, Blackwell Publishing 2006)
  • Complete Works (RSC, eds Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, 2007)
  • Feminist Companion to Shakespeare (ed. Dympa Callighan, 2000)
  • Norton Shakespeare based on the Oxford Edition (eds Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean E Howard and Katherine Eisaman Maus – what a quartet!)
  • Shakespeare after all (Marjorie Garber, Anchor, 2004)
  • Soliloquy the Shakespeare monologues the Women (eds Michael Early and Philippa Keil, Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, 1988).


Film seen this time:
  • The Globe version 2012. Director: Christopher Luscombe. Falstaff: Christopher Benjamin. Mistress Page: Serena Evans. Mistress Ford: Sarah Woodward. Master Ford: Andrew Havill. Master Page: Michael Garner. Dr Caius: Philip Bird. Hugh Evans: Gareth Armstrong. Mistress Quickly: Sue Wallace. Ann Page: Ceri-Lyn Cissone. Fenton: Gerard McCarthy. Slender: William Belchambers. Shallow: Peter Gale.
    • Amusing, slapstick. We enjoyed it.



Read ‘Wise wives and laundry baskets’ in Shakespeare calling – the book available here: