I have just proofread the chapter ‘The Tempests’ in An Isle Full of Noises – The Merlin Chronicles Volume 3 by my alter ego Rhuddem Gwelin. It’s the chapter in which Merlin shows Shakespeare that he can control the weather with his magic and creates a great storm, inspiring Will to write, well, The Tempest, what else? This month has been a whirl of mixed Shakespeare and Merlin as this book approaches its publication date.
But there have been other Shakespeare things to report. So I will.
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- In The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt the author writes:
- All the terrible things God sends down upon humans after the fall, things ‘Hamlet calls the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to.’
- Dürer ‘had ventured out in the world and knew that there were more things in heaven and earth than were dreamed of in and around Nuremberg.’
- Milton was ‘steeped in’ Shakespeare, and in Paradise Lost ‘had ascended the peak that Shakespeare had climbed. He had written one of the world’s greatest poems.’ One can only agree. ‘Milton had brought Adam and Eve to life like Shakespeare had brought Falstaff, Hamlet and Cleopatra to life.’
- Charles Darwin writes: ‘…as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially the history plays.’ And then years later he wrote, ‘I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.’ Poor Darwin. What a sacrifice he made for the good of science!
- In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Sixty Days and Counting he makes two subtle references to Shakespeare:
- In wondering if it was really true that his little boy’s rambunctiousness had truly been exorcised with a Buddhist chant, Charlie ponders, ‘But there were more things in heaven and earth, etc.; and without question there were very intelligent people in his life who believed in this stuff…’
- In a dream that Frank had about the President visiting him and his homeless friends, one of these friends recognised the President and said, ‘What’s this, some kind of Prince Hal thing going on here?’ But it was just a dream. Do you dream Shakespeare quotes? I don’t think I ever have…
- Miranda Kaufmann refers to Shakespeare many times in her very interesting Black Tudors, the untold story, which I (i.e. my alter ego) now have read as part of my (i.e. her) research into the times for my alter ego’s soon-to-be-published An Isle Full of Noises – the Merlin Chronicles Volume 3. Some of the most interesting are:
- ‘Like Shakespeare’s Desdemona, readers thrilled to hear stories…’
- The presence of Moroccans in Tudor England and trade with the Arab world is noted in The Merchant of Venice in which one of Portia’s suitors is the Prince of Morocco.
- There has been much speculation that Shakespeare’s Dark Lady was of African origins.
- In Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place
- There is a sneaky reference when Daniel’s sisters ‘have been saying that our father could shuffle off his mortal coil at any time.’
- Claudette, amazed when leaving school at how much they’ve learned, including the ‘sequence of Shakespeare’s plays.’
- In a flashback chapter Daniel’s mother, long before Daniel was thought of, examines Romeo and Juliet for an explanation of love at first sight, but she’s not convinced by ‘the palm-to-palm stuff and the holy kiss.’
- Claudette, who has become a renowned actor, tells Daniel that she has played Cleopatra.
- In the 3rd season of Doctor Who, the episode ‘Daleks in Manhattan’, the 10th Doctor’s companion Martha is asked by the showgirl Tallulah if she has done any theatre. Martha replies, ‘Oh a little. You know, Shakespeare.’ She and the Doctor had just been in 1599 London, on stage, with, you know…. Tallulah: ‘How boring is that!’
- In the film Rainman, Charlie is amazed that Raymond has read and apparently understood all of Shakespeare.
- In Ali Smith’s novel Autumn Elisabeth dreams of Miranda coming to her. Miranda is reading The Tempest. Later Elisabeth remembers her childhood friend, the much older Daniel, bringing her to see the play.
- In Jodi Taylor’s No Time Like the Past Max remembers one of her earlier time-travelling exploits in which the lost manuscript of a Shakespeare play was rescued.
Further since last time:
- Continued reading aloud with Hal: The Merry Wives of Windsor
- An Isle Full of Noises – The Merlin Chronicles Volume 3 see above…
The insult for today, 5 November 2018: ‘How now, my headstrong! Where have you been gadding?’ Romeo and Juliet.
Posted this month
- This report
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