Monday, April 6, 2020

April 2020


 ‘A plague on both your houses.’ One of the strongest quotes in Shakespeare. Who would have ever believed that ‘both your houses’ was too small? A plague on the world is what we have. I hope you are well and able to deal with this Corona crisis. I am in isolation, no doubt like many of you, but well and healthy and cared for. I wish and hope the same for you.

As always, I start with a promo for the book Shakespeare calling – the book. I do so hope you will help me. 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 novel The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, the magically gifted protagonist Alex (her real name is Galaxy) also likes Shakespeare. She refers to Ophelia and her flowers, she dresses as Mab for a Halloween party, she prefers her Shakespeare class to Modern British Novels and uses her Shakespeare notebook to write magical formulas, and she has a roommate named Miranda, like in The Tempest.
  • In Anne Tyler’s Clock Dance the main character Willa’s mother is in an amateur acting group who always play Shakespeare in the summer. In the same conversation Willa’s fiancé Derek calls her mother Lady Macbeth for serving rabbit stew on Easter.
  • Sharon Bolton uses Shakespeare quotes to start each part in her creepy detective novel The Craftsman and one of her characters is in an amateur production of Macbeth.
  • In Release by Patrick Ness, young Adam loves young Enzo and reflects that at least ‘they were older than those two idiots in Romeo and Juliet.
  • On Facebook: ‘For the first time in 200 years, Shakespeare is not being performed anywhere in the world.’ Because of Corona. But by now there are a lot of Shakespeare performances being sent via Internet.
  • It has been mentioned in several places, including Swedish TV’s Kulturnytt, that Shakespeare wrote Lear and Macbeth while quarantined because of the plague. Kulturnytt also pointed out that Juliet didn’t get Romeo’s message because the friar delivering it was quarantined due to the plague, and went on to remind us to wash our hands.

Films with a Shakespeare connection seen this month:

Further since last time:
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: Julius Caesar.
  • Wrote the text ‘Caesar, Brutus and Greenblatt in Julius Caesar

Posted this month
  • This report
  • The above-mentioned text


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:


Caesar, Brutus and Stephen Greenblatt in Julius Caesar


Caesar, Brutus and Stephen Greenblatt
in
Julius Caesar

     Stephen Greenblatt has done it again. In Tyrant – Shakespeare on Politics he has written a brilliant analysis of Shakespeare from still another angle. This time, as the title suggests, on politics but not in the way one would expect. This is, in actuality, a book about Donald Trump the tyrant, without once mentioning Trump’s name. With many quotes from Macbeth, King Lear and other plays Greenblatt shows how tyrants come to power through manipulation and fear, through the support of people who believe they will benefit only to find themselves victims of the tyrant themselves. Reading this book makes one want to read the plays all over again. The first one Hal and I chose to reread was Julius Caesar.
     Greenblatt writes: ‘There is one play in Shakespeare’s whole career that features a systematic, principled attempt to stop tyranny before it starts,’ (page 147)  and goes on to show how some of Rome’s tribunes are angry at Caesar’s willingness, perhaps eagerness, to be made king and destroy the Roman republic.
     Cassius especially is angry, and he convinces Brutus that he is right. Brutus too is convinced but much more troubled by his determination to assassinate Caesar. Greenblatt points out that Brutus’ dilemma is unique in Shakespeare: ‘Brutus invokes “the general” – that is, the common good – as opposed to a “personal cause”, but his long soliloquy undermines any attempt to draw a clean line between abstract political principles and particular individuals, with their psychological peculiarities, their unpredictably, their only partially knowable, opaque inwardness’ (pages 149-150). Don’t you love the way Greenblatt writes? He’s almost as good as Shakespeare himself!
     Greenblatt goes on to analyse the Roman psyche as one that prefers action to thought but that Shakespeare wants to show those behind the scene, ‘troubled, vulnerable, conflicted people uncertain of the right course to take and only half aware of what was driving them to act. The danger was all the greater because they were acting on a world stage, and their obscure private motives had massive, potentially catastrophic consequences’ (page 150).
     Is Brutus then noble but misguided? Greenblatt doesn’t think Shakespeare meant him to seem that way. He points out that Brutus was more noble than the self-serving Marc Antony but what good did that do? ‘…the dream of purity is hopelessly unrealistic and hedged about with irony. And it utterly fails to take into account the volatility of the mass of ordinary Romans,’ Greenblatt tells us (page 154).
     He also tells us that Shakespeare doesn’t offer ‘any solution to the psychological and political dilemmas that [the play] mercilessly probe (when does Shakespeare ever do that?) but instead, ‘an unprecedented representation of political uncertainty, confusion and blindness’ (page 154).
     It’s very easy to believe that if Shakespeare had lived today, he would write a brilliant play about the tyrant Donald Trump. Stephen Greenblatt very successful fills that vacuum with his book Tyrant. Read it.
     And, oh yes, don’t forget to re-read Julius Caesar.
    
    
Greenblatt, Stephen. Tyrant – Shakespeare on politics. 2018. WW Norton, New York.


Shakespeare calling – the book available here and other sites:



Monday, March 2, 2020

March 2020



After several months of little activity in my visible Shakespeare world, things are picking up. Thus, the report will be a bit longer than it has been lately.

As always, I start with a promo for the book Shakespeare calling – the book. I do so hope you will help me. 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 book Notes to Self by Emilie Pines the author mentioned that despite her wildness during her teenage years, she also wrote many essays on Hamlet in school.
    • In Mike Carey’s Vicious Circle exorcist Felix Castor displays his literary knowledge by informing us that, ‘I didn’t need any pricking in my thumbs to tell me that it was wicked.’ Now, that is cool, referring to Shakespeare when one’s life is in danger!
    • In the novel Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo, one of the characters had been cast with two classmates as Macbeth’s three witches and their other classmates bullied them about it. Later Diana (Wonder Woman herself) says that she prefers Beatrice and Benedick to Romeo and Juliet.
    • One of the characters in Deborah Moggach’s The Carer quotes the ‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold’ sonnet (73).
    • In Terminator – the Sarah Connor Chronicles Cameron (the cyborg) has read Othello
    • Dagens Nyheter had an article on conspiracy theories and used a picture of Shakespeare with the caption, ‘Maybe possibly perhaps not who you think he is.’ 
  • Further since last time:
    • Finished reading aloud Stephen Greenblatt’s Tyrant – Shakespeare on politics. It’s brilliant!
    • Started reading aloud with Hal: Julius Caesar.
  • 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, February 3, 2020

February 2020


’The angry librarian’ is one of my favourite Facebook pages and I just have to share this with you, posted by Fredrik Smeds: A man came into the library and asked to borrow a book by Shakespeare. ‘OK,’ said the librarian. ‘Which one?’ After a long silence: ‘William.’

With that, I start this monthly report. The world of Shakespeare is awakening slowly from its winter hibernation, so this report is just a bit longer than recent ones have been.

As always, I start with a promo for the book Shakespeare calling – the book. I do so hope you will help me. 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 novel The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan one of the narrators claims to have been clever in school, understanding Lear far better than the others.
  • In Naomi Klein’s No Logo Professor Mark Edmundson is quoted: ‘I’m disturbed by the serene belief that my function – and more important… Shakespeare’s… - is to divert, entertain and interest.’
  • In the novel Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo, one of the characters had been cast with two classmates as Macbeth’s three witches and their classmates bullied them about it. Later Diana (Wonder Woman herself) says that she prefers Beatrice and Benedick to Romeo and Juliet.
  • One of the characters in Deborah Moggach’s The Carer quotes the ‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold’ sonnet (73).


Films with a Shakespeare connection seen this month:


Further since last time:
  • Read aloud with Hal: Dunbar by Edward St Aubyn, a Hogarth spin-off of Lear. It was amusing but not the best of the series.
  • Started reading aloud Stephen Greenblatt’s Tyrant – Shakespeare on politics. It’s brilliant so far!

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, January 6, 2020

January 2020


If music be the food of love, play on. One of my favourite lines, spoken by one of my least favourite characters. Happy Twelfth Night, friends. (You who are on the alert will say, ‘But that was yesterday!’ True, but close enough).

I hope the holidays have been good to you. It has been an extremely quiet Shakespeare month out there. I don’t know if I would agree with Claudio who says in Much Ado about Nothing, ‘Silence is the perfectest herald of joy’ (he’s another least favourite!) but in this silence I have come up with a brilliant (I’m so modest) addition to the monthly report: films with Shakespeare connections. See below. It appears there are a lot of them.

So, here’s the new improved report, starting with links to Shakespeare calling – the book. All support for my work with Shakespeare through purchasing or promoting the book are very much appreciated. Spread the word! 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 novel The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon the following quote from Richard II is used to start Part III: ‘The bay leaves in our country are all withered and meteors fright the fixéd stars of heaven.’


Films with a Shakespeare connection seen this month:


Further since last time:
  • Very little Shakespeare.

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, December 2, 2019

December 2019


We haven’t had much of a Winter’s Tale yet but at least there is some snow in the Stockholm area.  There hasn’t been much Shakespeare in our lives either this past month, not even yesterday when we were planning to play ‘Shakespeare Trivial Pursuit’ with our friends, EG and EG, and we couldn’t find it! That’s the danger of tidying up. I know where it was before tidying up that corner but where did I put it? I’ll no doubt find it whilst looking for something else. Ah well.

Happy holidays to you all! I wish you loads of Shakespeare!

Here’s the report, starting with links to Shakespeare calling – the book (a good Christmas present for your Shakespeare friends? Or yourself?)

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 novel The Big Alone by Kristin Hannah the main characters were reading Hamlet in school.
  • There was a review on Kulturnytt on the TV news of St Albyn’s Dunbar, now translated into Swedish. They also gave information on the series of contemporary novels based on Shakespeare plays (this one is about Lear). The reviewer liked the book and believes Shakespeare would be surprised that we still find Lear interesting. We have the book, but we haven’t read it yet.
  • Macbeth is being performed in Helsingborg, the TV program Sverige Idag (Sweden Today) tells us. It takes place in a modern-day office.


Further since last time:
  • Very little Shakespeare.

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, November 4, 2019

November 2019


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a play analysis but this time I have. As I wrote last time, we were inspired by Mark Haddon’s book The Porpoise. I have written my text as a memorial for Professor Harold Bloom, Shakespearean extraordinaire, who died in October. He has figured many times in this blog, and of course in Shakespeare calling – the book. He will, no doubt, continue to appear in coming analyses.

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 Netflix was mention as having produced ’The King’, a ‘wild mix of Shakespeare’s plays.’
  • In Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, the anonymous interrogator doesn’t want to give his name, so he tells the man he is interrogating ‘So Romeo, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.’
  • It would be very strange if the marvellous novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows didn’t have Shakespeare references. And indeed, it has:
    • Juliet calls her friend Sydney ‘too King Lear’ when he criticises her American beau.
    • Eben Ramsey believes that Shakespeare was thinking of men like him when he wrote his plays. His favourite quote is, ‘The bright day is done, and we are for the dark.’ It’s from Cleopatra (I cheated and Googled it).
    • Dawsey writes that the Society will be attending a performance of Julius Caesar because Society members John Booker and Clovis Fossey are playing Mark Antony and Caesar.
    • In the film, which we saw this weekend, Charles Lamb’s book of retelling the plays for children played a large part.

Further since last time:
  • Read aloud to Hal: Pericles.

Posted this month
  • Text ‘Jand and Bloom on Pericles
  • 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: