Monday, October 7, 2019

October 2019


 ‘Feast here awhile, until our stars that frown lend us a smile.’ Is this an encouraging quote? I’ll take it as that since feasting is nice and we can hope that our frowning stars will soon smile upon us. It’s from Pericles anyway, which we are planning to read next (see below).

Again, it’s been a quiet Shakespeare month but here’s the report, after information about where to get Shakespeare calling – the book:

The book is available for those of you in Great Britain and parts of Europe on this site:

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

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In Dagens Nyheter
    • Agnes Lidbeck writes that she’s moved and therefore reorganised her books alphabetically: ‘I comfort Shakespeare with a pat to the cheek. We live here now. I hope you’ll like it next to Strindberg.’
    • it is reported that in a copy of the First Folio in a Philadelphia library the notes in the margins, it has been claimed, were written by John Milton.
  • In A Living Soul (En levande själ) by P C Jersild, the brain Ypsilon wonders how he can know about Lenin, God, Darwin, Pavlov and Hamlet when his memory has been wiped.
  • Mark Haddon’s new novel The Porpoise is based on Pericles and Shakespeare himself appears in a couple of chapters. Now we’re inspired to read the play so that will be next.
  • In The Summer before the War by Helen Simonson the village poet is asked if he wants to pose as Shakespeare in the coming parade.

Further since last time:
  • Decision: to read Pericles next.

Posted this month
  • This report

  
Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

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Monday, September 2, 2019

September 2019


September is here. The mountain ashes are heavy with fruit. This time between summer and autumn does not loom large in Shakespeare and indeed one feels suspended between the seasons. But September it is and though it has been quiet on the Shakespeare scene, you have here a short report.    

But first I’ll start, this time as well, with these questions:
  • Have you bought Shakespeare calling – the book? I would be so happy if the answer were yes.
  • Have you asked your local library to buy it? Ditto.
  • Have you told your friends about it? Ditto.
  • Have you promoted it on Facebook and all the others? Ditto.
  • Have you put the book on your want-to-read list on Good Reads? Ditto.
  • Have you read it, rated it, even reviewed it on the sites available, Good Reads, your library, Amazon etc? Ditto.

In other words, I really need your help in promoting the book, and keeping the project alive. It’s a very large book jungle out there and even Shakespeare’s voice can disappear in the din without your help. So, if you see this, please feel inspired to act on these questions!
Thank you!

The book is available for those of you in Great Britain and parts of Europe on this site:
Or in Sweden
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare sightings:
  • Stephen King is a very literary author and Sleeping Beauties offers an excellent opportunity to refer to Shakespeare, which he and his fellow author son Owen do
  • regarding sleep: ‘…it knitted up the ravelled sleeve of care.’
  • in quoting Queen Mab from Romeo and Juliet: ‘She is the fairies’ midwife…’
  • when the mysterious Evie suggests to one of the main characters Clint that they discuss Shakespeare’s history plays or the last season of Doctor Who. Clever woman, getting two masterpieces in one sentence!
  • In Dagens Nyheter Johan Hilton has written a full-page article about which Shakespeare characters best fit the current Swedish government. Much of the article discusses Stephen Greenblatt’s book Tyrant – Shakespeare on politics. Hilton compares the government to A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the comment that our prime minister Stefan Löfvén can’t tell who’s together with whom or how long the current alliance will hold. It’s a very interesting article.
  • Dagens Nyheter also had an article by Björn Wiman about the climate and asked the question, ‘What if it was the weather that drove Hamlet crazy?’
  • On the Art of Reading by Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch is a collection of lectures given in 1916. Having read about a third of it there are already several Shakespeare references:
    • In studying literature, it is natural that one should have ‘more than a bowing acquaintance’ with Shakespeare.
    • Everything that Shakespeare says about a king even a young boy can recognise in himself.
    • It is natural in humans to construct things and if we don’t carefully control the urge, we might just construct an Othello.
    • The Tempest and other great literature can be truer than a police report.

Further since last time:
  • We’ve just spent a few days in Riga and didn’t come across Shakespeare in any way, shape or form. Other than the copy of Shakespeare calling – the book that I gave to our friends as thanks for their help in arranging the trip.
  • Just ordered today: the above-mentioned book by Stephen Greenblatt Tyrant – Shakespeare on politics.

Posted this month
  • This report 

Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

Read more about my alter ego’s books, in one of which Shakespeare appears live and in person, on:




Sunday, August 4, 2019

August 2019


Summer’s lease has all too short a date, but come on, it’s only August! A whole month left of summer. Our Shakespeare highlight has probably been playing Shakespeare TP (see below) but there have been a few interesting sightings as well. But first I’ll start, once again, with these questions:
  • Have you bought Shakespeare calling – the book? I would be so happy if the answer were yes.
  • Have you asked your local library to buy it? Ditto.
  • Have you told your friends about it? Ditto.
  • Have you promoted it on Facebook and all the others? Ditto.
  • Have you put the book on your want-to-read list on Good Reads? Ditto.
  • Have you read it, rated it, even reviewed it on the sites available, Good Reads, your library, Amazon etc? Ditto.

In other words, I really need your help in promoting the book, and keeping the project alive. It’s a very large book jungle out there and even Shakespeare’s voice can disappear in the din without your help. So, if you see this, please feel inspired to act on these questions!
Thank you!

The book is available for those of you in Great Britain and parts of Europe on this site:

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

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the Swedish novel En man som heter Ove (A Man Called Ove) by Fredrik Backman, Ove’s wife Sonja had been a teacher of troubled kids and succeeded in getting them to appreciate Shakespeare.
  • In Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs the main character Mercy tells her friend Samuel, ‘Do not go gentle…rage, rage’ when he wants to die and he quotes the ‘Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow’ monolog at her.
  • Like many others, I’m now addicted to playing Quiz on Messenger. Shakespeare pops up in questions now and then. Some answers are embarrassingly obvious, others even I can’t come up with. Sorry, no examples, it goes very quickly.
  • In Jodi Taylor’s What Could Possibly Go Wrong?, time traveller Max points out as her team heads back to 1485 that everyone knows about Shakespeare’s ‘Crookback.’ Max’s team’s mission is to see that Richard III is indeed killed, otherwise history would be badly changed, and that, of course, must never happen!
  • During our ongoing Springsteen marathon we came to High Hopes, an excellent CD that holds up with his previous work. In the song ‘Frankie Fell in Love’ are the lyrics:
  • ‘Our Juliet says her Romeo’s been found’
  • ‘Einstein and Shakespeare, sittin’ havin’ a beer…Shakespeare says, ‘Man, it all starts with a kiss’’
  • ‘Shakespeare says, ‘Man, it’s just one and one makes three, that’s why it’s poetry’’
  • Good old Bruce
  • The Four Horsemen – the discussion that sparked an atheist revolution has Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens discussing the arguments they meet when they talk about religion and atheism. Richard Dawkins points out that Shakespeare is one of the reasons he’s proud to belong to the human race. Oh yes.
  • Be Kind Rewind, the film with Jack Black and Mos Def, has the heroes refilming films (see it, it’s very good), one of which is The Lion King. Our heroes point out that it’s based on Shakespeare, Hamlet, right?


Further since last time:
  • Played Shakespeare Trivial Pursuit with our dear Shakespeare friends EG and EG in their lovely summer cottage in Hälsningland in north (sort of north, it’s still a long way from the Arctic Circle in really northern Sweden) Sweden. A very enjoyable game.

Posted this month
  • This report


Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

Read more about my alter ego’s books, in one of which Shakespeare appears live and in person, on:



Monday, July 1, 2019

July 2019


Ah, what to write on the first of July, when the Shakespeare world seems to be on holiday along with everyone else. We were meant to leave on a small holiday tomorrow ourselves but because of our hosts’ illness, we must postpone. A pity. But ‘The summer's flow'r is to the summer sweet’ (sonnet 94) nonetheless. Strangely, most of Shakespeare’s quotes on summer are very depressing with death and winter and storms and things. Good old Shakespeare. But here in Stockholm the sun is shining nicely today (rain forecasted for the rest of the week so Shakespeare is probably right, again.)

Lately, I’ve started these reports with some questions for you. I’ll do it this time too. I really do need help in promoting the book…
  • Have you bought Shakespeare calling – the book? I would be so happy if the answer were yes.
  • Have you asked your local library to buy it? Ditto.
  • Have you told your friends about it? Ditto.
  • Have you promoted it on Facebook and all the others? Ditto.
  • Have you put the book on your want-to-read list on Good Reads? Ditto.
  • Have you read it, rated it, even reviewed it on the sites available, Good Reads, your library, Amazon etc? Ditto.

In other words, I need your help in promoting the book, and keeping the project alive. It’s a very large book jungle out there and even Shakespeare’s voice can disappear in the din without your help.
Thank you!

The book is available for those of you in Great Britain and parts of Europe on this site:

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

Shakespeare sightings:
  • The usual variety of references in novels of people who have a complete works on their shelf or have played a part in some school production. It’s not even interesting anymore. 

Further since last time:

Posted this month
  • This report
  • ‘Precious little’ in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

  
Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

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Precious Little in The Two Gentlemen of Verona


Precious little
in
The Two Gentlemen of Verona

     The first text I wrote about this play was about the friendship of the women (pp 16-22 in Shakespeare calling – the book). I made the astute observation that this, possibly his first, play set ‘the stage for comedies that are based on true tragedy and realism.’ Clever me. Unfortunately, I’m not clever enough to come up with anything astute or even vaguely interesting this time because frankly, women’s friendship aside, there is precious little to like in this play unless you like dogs, which I don’t. Yes, Lance and his dog are amusing but not enough to write about.
     So once again I will cop out by giving a brief report of what others have written.
     The introduction to the RSC edition points out that the play deals with conflicts between generations, genders and classes (p. 52). Ture. I could have analysed that I suppose since I always find it relevant and interesting.
     The Oxford edition introduces the play by writing: ‘If the whole is not greater than its parts, some of the parts – such as Lance’s brilliant monologues, and the delightful scene (4.2) in which Proteus serenades his love with “Who is Silvia?” while his disguised old love Julia looks wistfully on – are wholly successful (p. 1). Also true.
     Jean E. Howard is always intelligently analytical and so she is in her introduction to the Norton Edition. Among much else she write: ‘…at what cost to women are the bonds between men to be privileged? By the way he creates the characters of Julia and Silvia, Shakespeare invites his audience to take them and their emotions seriously and makes it difficult to overlook the men’s irresponsible and callous treatment of them’ (p. 106). True, again. I probably used this quote the first time.
     Finally I will look at Harold Bloom, my sometimes nemesis, sometimes friend. Well, he doesn’t like it. He finds no merit in it other than Lance and the dog. He claims that Shakespeare could not have cared less ‘that everything is amiss’ in the play (p.40). Do I agree? Well, maybe. But I agree with Howard more.
     Are there any conclusions to be drawn from all this? Probably not, but never mind. There are other plays to read. What shall we choose next?

Works cited:
  • RSC William Shakespeare Complete Works. Editors: Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen. 2007.
  • Oxford Shakespeare Complete Works, second edition. General editors: Stanley Wells et al. 2005
  • The Norton Shakespeare. Bases on the Oxford edition. General editors: Stephen Greenblatt et al. 2008.
  • Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare – The Invention of the Human. 1998.

    

Film seen this time:   
  • None



Read ‘Friendship between women’ (page 16- 22) in Shakespeare calling – the book available here:


Sunday, June 2, 2019

June 2019


There has been an election to the European Parliament. The extreme right, the racists, the ultranationalists, have gained so many seats it’s frightening. And Trump is still threatening Mexico (and the world). They are sawing off the branch we are all sitting on. They must be stopped. I’ve posted this quote from Shakespeare’s Sir Thomas More before. It bears repetition:
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity.

Last time, I started the report with some questions for you. These too bear repeating, even though they are insignificant (or are they?) compared to the above quote:
  • Have you bought Shakespeare calling – the book? I would be so happy if the answer were yes.
  • Have you asked your local library to buy it? Ditto.
  • Have you told your friends about it? Ditto.
  • Have you promoted it on Facebook and all the others? Ditto.
  • Have you put the book on your want-to-read list on Good Reads? Ditto.
  • Have you read it, rated it, even reviewed it on the sites available, Good Reads, your library, Amazon etc? Ditto.

In other words, I really need your help in promoting the book, and keeping the project alive. It’s a very large book jungle out there and even Shakespeare’s voice can disappear in the din without your help.
Thank you!

The book is 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:
  • Mark Forsyth, in his The Elements of Eloquence – How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase, refers to Shakespeare so many times (of course) that it could almost be called a Shakespeare book. He starts the book with the claim, ‘Shakespeare was not a genius. He was, without the distant shadow of a doubt, the most wonderful writer who ever breathed. But not a genius. No angels handed him his lines. No fairies proofread for him. Instead, he learnt techniques, he learnt tricks, and he learnt them well.’ It’s a book about different kinds of rhetoric and their rules. Shakespeare knew and used them all. Here are some examples from the first half of the book:
    •  Alliteration: ‘The barge she sat in like a burnished throne burned on the water.’ (Forsyth doesn’t even mention Love’s Labour’s Lost).
    • Polyptoton: ‘Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle.’
    • Aposiopesis: ‘That all the world shall…I will do such things…’
    • Hyperbation: ‘Such stuff as dreams are made on’.
    • Anadiplosis: ‘The love of wicked men converts to fear; that fear to hate, and hate turns one or both to worthy danger and deserved death’.
  • In the film Cactus Flower from 1969 Goldie Hawn and Walter Matthau go to the cinema to see Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.
  • Bruce Springsteen, in his memoirs Born to Run, writes that his first manager Mike Apel, when they first met, compared him to Dylan, James Joyce and Shakespeare. Later in the book he writes that Clive Davis of Columbia Records did a reading of ‘Blinded by the Light’ ‘like it was Shakespeare.’ 

Further since last time:
  • Read aloud with Hal: The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Hopefully there will be an analysis next time. 

Posted this month
  • This report

  
Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

Read more about my alter ego’s books, in one of which Shakespeare appears live and in person, on:



Sunday, May 5, 2019

May 2019


As I write this, snowflakes – not many, but nevertheless – are swirling round the darling buds of May. It’s been an upside-down spring. Hot in April. Cold in May. ‘I, that did never weep, now melt with woe that winter should cut off our spring-time so. Well, I don’t suppose I need to be quite as gloomy as poor old Henry VI, but it’s been a rough spring in many ways and a little sunshine and warmth might cheer us up and give us the energy to get back to reading Shakespeare. We can hope!

Meanwhile, here are some questions for you:
·       Have you bought Shakespeare calling – the book? I would be so happy if the answer were yes.
·       Have you asked your local library to buy it? Ditto.
·       Have you told your friends about it? Ditto.
·       Have you promoted it on Facebook and all the others? Ditto.
·       Have you put the book on your want-to-read list on Good Reads? Ditto.
·       Have you read it, rated it, even reviewed it on the sites available, Good Reads, your library, Amazon etc? Ditto.
In other words, I really need your help in promoting the book, and keeping the project alive. It’s a very large book jungle out there and even Shakespeare’s voice can disappear in the din without your help.
Thank you!

The book is 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 Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm, a dystopian novel about cloning, young Mark, newly in love, plans on quoting Shakespeare to his beloved.
  • The Duelling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean refers to Yorrick and the skull, Hamlet’s father and the poison in the ear and Jacques’s ‘All the world’s a stage’ monolog.
  • Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll mentions Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes in Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet.
  • In the novel The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven, narrator Izzy includes on her list of overrated things: ‘Shakespeare. I personally find it unreasonable that he has the monopoly on inventing words.’ That’s OK, Izzy. When I was your age (18) I would have agreed with you. Later she calls one of her teacher’s speech about the trauma of losing one’s parents ‘Shakespearean’. I don’t think she meant it as a compliment to Shakespeare.
  • In the film Before Midnight one of the minor characters has played Perdita in A Winter’s Tale.
  • It’s a rather overused Shakespeare reference to write that in somebody’s library (usually someone old and scholarly) there are volumes of Shakespeare and other classics. Realistic, I’m sure but rather ho-hum. This was the case in an otherwise well-written novel by Georgina Harding, Land of the Living.
  • No doubt followers of this blog have noted the many Shakespeare sightings in novels in which students are performing or have performed in Shakespeare plays in their schools. Indeed, it has become rather tedious and all too predictable, something that journalist Martin Hellström pointed out in his article ‘Shakespeare, Shakespeare and more Shakespeare’ in Dagens Nyheter yesterday.

Further since last time:
  • Ordered and received but not yet played: the game Shakespeare Trivial Pursuit.


Posted this month
  • This report



Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

Read more about my alter ego’s books, in one of which Shakespeare appears live and in person, on: