Happy New Year! After an unofficial blog visit on Twelfth Night I am now back on the regular Monday schedule until the end of April. I hope the year has started well for you all. After three weeks away there’s been a whole lot of Shakespeare going on, so let’s get to it.
From Gregory Doran's Shakespeare Almanac:
- On December 30, 1460, Richard of York (father of Richard III) and his son, the Duke of Rutland, were killed by the Lancastrians. Shakespeare immortalized this in Act 1.4 of Henry VI Part Three.
- The Thames was completely frozen over in the beginning of January the year Shakespeare was born, which he didn’t notice, and again in 1608 which he probably did.
· In the classic Gothic novel Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu from 1864, Shakespeare lurks here and there:
o Among the many weird characters, one of the women, cousin Monica, refers to herself and two of the servants as the weird sisters.
o Again, upon meeting a band of gypsies, the weird sisters are referred to.
o A frustrated cousin Milly cried “Why the puck don’t you let her out?” and a note tells us this is an archaic expression making use of Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
o Said Milly was described as her father, Uncle Silas as a rustic Miranda, more suited to Caliban’s company than to that of an old sick Prospero.
o Falstaff’s billet-doux is referred to in connection to a cad who is wooing the heroine and another lady at the same time.
· Ian Rankin, in his Impossible Death, has one of his policemen claim that discretion is the better part of valour.
· In Dagens Nyheter on December 28, there was an article about Richard Burton’s diaries in which we are informed that he made his first mark on the world as a Shakespearean actor.
· In the Downton Abbey Christmas Special, which you know by now ended more dramatically than we would have wished, the butler Mr. Carson declared in his inimitable voice, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown…”
· In the second Sherlock Holmes movie, Game of Shadows, poor Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is convinced by Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr) to get back into action in spite of being on his honeymoon and sighs, “Once more unto the breach…”
· In Alice Munro’s short story “Dimensions”, child killer Lloyd quotes, “To thine own self be true” thinking it’s from the Bible.
· A seer in Jacqueline Winspeare’s third Maisie Dodds novel, Pardonable Lies, speaks of one of her clients now deceased as having “shaken off this mortal coil.”
- The father in the teen sci-fi novel Across the Universe by Beth Revis has had himself put in deep freeze for the three hundred year journey to a to-be-colonized planet and among his treasures he takes the works of Shakespeare.
- In Dagens Nyheter there was a letter to the editor which mentioned Shakespeare but to tell you the truth I had no idea what he meant so I won’t quote it.
- January 12 there was an article about death in literature. The journalist Lotta Olsson writes: “Sometimes they die in droves, like at the end of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. At that point I feel like laughing, thinking that maybe Shakespeare just got tired of the whole gang and didn’t know what to do with them. Although he solves it very well, of course.” And in her list of recommended books about death, Olsson includes Macbeth and writes: “Dumb Macbeth! He shouldn’t have been so happy when the witches told him he was going to be king. And he shouldn’t have told his wife. Death snaps at Macbeth’s heels, he kills and sees ghosts, and believes himself immortal because no man born of woman is supposed to be able to kill him. When it is well acted (which you can see in the film by Orson Welles from 1948, still unbeatable) it’s Shakespeare’s best.”
Further, since the last report:
- Wrote: “What To Do About Hamlet” and sent it to Blogging Shakespeare.
- Started reading Wilson Knight’s classic (from the 30’s) The Wheel of Fire. It’s fascinating! But I have quit reading it for awhile because it’s hard to concentrate on analyses of other plays while reading Hamlet.
- Posted: “And the Winner Is” on Twelfth Night.
- Started reading with Hal: Hamlet!!! Finally.
- “Can You Do That to Shakespeare?” has been posted on Blogging Shakespeare http://bloggingshakespeare.com/can-you-do-that-to-shakespeare
- Joined: Twitter on the advice of blog follower AnneliT who says it will noticeably expand the reach of the blog. Hmmmm, I haven’t really learned how to use it yet but maybe she’s right!
- Watched: Withnail and I, the first of several films with a connection to Hamlet. I remembered that one of the characters quoted Hamlet, but I was beginning to doubt my memory when the film was ending and so far no quote. However, the very last lines where spoken by the unhappy Withnail: “I have of late and wherefore I know not lost all my mirth…” And so on. It was, in fact, a perfect ending to quite a good movie.
Posted this week:
· This Monday report
· “What to Do About Hamlet” under Ruby’s Reflections.