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.

  
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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:



Sunday, March 31, 2019

April 2019


‘Such groans of roaring wind and rain’ – it’s been a turbulent month, both the weather and life but now April has arrived, and one hopes that it will put a spirit of youth in all of us.

This will be a short report, and first, as always, I appeal to visitors of this blog to note 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:
  • Existence by David Brin has quotes from the ‘To be or not to be’ monolog as an introduction to each part. Very appropriate in a novel about humans’ first encounter with space aliens.
  • The Human Stain by Philip Roth is full of Shakespeare references. The father of the main character Coleman Silk taught his children that no one could take the language of Shakespeare away from them and quoted frequently from the plays.


Further since last time:
  • On a very serious note I feel obligated to comment on the developments at the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden. In the aftermath of the #metoo movement it has been revealed that the atmosphere of the workplace has been bad for a long time, with abuse, offensive behaviour, even violence, especially from one of the actors who has been kept on because he is regarded by some as an acting genius. This man was sentenced lightly some years ago for the physical abuse of his then girlfriend, who has since died. It must be emphasised that abusers are often charming and likeable publicly, but in this case, when the identity of the actor was revealed, my first thought was, ‘I knew it.’ Of this actor, who played Prospero in a production we saw some years ago, I wrote in Shakespeare calling, that he ‘was dreadful’ (page 654 in Shakespeare calling – the book.) In all the plays I’ve seen this actor I have found him arrogant, offensively macho and as far from an acting genius as can be.  It is very possible that actors I admire and like are also guilty of abuse and if such is revealed my reaction must be the same: Prospero, The Tempest, Shakespeare, theatre in general, the world deserves so much more. Violence, and most certainly the violence of men against women, is just not acceptable. We must stop accepting it.


Posted this month
  • This report 


Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by

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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



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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: