Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5, 2011

  • Shakespeare sightings
    • Oh no, now they're making a movie about Shakespeare not writing his plays. Of course it's by the same director who did “Day After Tomorrow” and “2012”, which, admittedly were pretty exciting but not terribly serious. So this one will probably be about as believable, that is to say...not. But how exciting can a movie about some other guy writing Shakespeare's texts be, I wonder. I used to say, and still do sort of, what difference does it make, somebody wrote the plays and they're brilliant so who cares? But I find I care, partly because as a history teacher I take historical sources seriously, and the ones we have really do indicate that Shakespeare wrote his own stuff, often not alone but still he did it. And partly because it's so insulting to claim that a relatively uneducated (at least formally) guy from the lower classes and rural England to boot can't be a genius. Come on!
    • In Juliet Nicolson's interesting book The Great Silence, about the two years after the end of World War One and how people adjusted, I've so far found two mentions of Shakespeare:
      • In the general anger towards and hatred for the Germans after the war, George V of England changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (a good German name, the king was after all the Kaiser's – and the tsar's for that matter – cousin) to Windsor. According to Nicolson, the Kaiser joked about it by saying that he was on his way to the theater to see The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Ha ha.
      • On July 19, 1919, a large parade and festival were arranged in London to celebrate the signing of the treaty and A Midsummer Night's Dream was performed in Hyde Park.
    • A non-sighting: I love the movie Hair, and have seen it many times, most recently this Saturday evening with friends, and every time I ask myself and the world, “Why????” was “What a Piece of Work is Man” deleted? It's on the soundtrack so evidently it was going to be included at some point. I first heard this song on the Broadway soundtrack and it was probably the first time I fell in love with Shakespeare, and I didn't even know it was Shakespeare at the time. It took years and years before I figured out what play it's from. For those of you who have never heard it, or don't have the soundtracks: here they are:
    • Book finished this week: Frank Kermode's Shakespeare's Language. A brief report will appear on this blog when I get to doing books.
    • Play finished this week: Richard III. Hal and I have also started reading various analyses of the play and have watched the BBC version. Five more DVDs to watch this week. Today I started taking notes for my text, to be posted on this blog in a month or so.
    • Meantime, I'm still working on my text for Henry VI Part 3. I hope to post it next week.
    • Technical tips – if you've been trying to post comments on the blog and it doesn't seem to work try going into Google Chrome (easy to do, go to Google, about Google, our Google Chrome) or Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. That's worked for me.


  1. I have a recommendation for you:
    by:Christopher Moore

    The novel is Shakespeare's play King Lear, but it is narrated from the perspective of the character the Fool, whose name is Pocket. In the course of the novel you can find references to several other Shakespeare plays, from short quotations to whole characters—most notably the three witches from Macbeth.


    The World Shakespeare Festival runs from 23 April to November 2012. It is an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare’s Globe.

  3. Thanks, AnneliT! It looks like a cornucopia of Shakespeare goodies!

  4. And thanks for the book tip. It's been added to my must read list. I always enjoy reading classics from a minor (minorish) character's point of view!
    And Lear's fool is one of Shakespeare's wisest. Does anyone else have any book tips?