After the distractions of last week I’m trying to get back to Hamlet. Steps forward are being taken but there’s a long way to go. It’s frustrating to have so little time to work on Shakespeare but I’m not complaining (yes, I am, but short of inheriting a fortune from a non-existent rich relative or winning on the lottery ticket I never buy I guess I’ll have to stick with my day job which in truth I am happy to do). So to the report.
From Gregory Doran's Shakespeare Almanac: After a year of reports on Shakespeare’s life chosen from this interesting book it’s time to move on to something else. On February 14 Hal and I started reading The Shakespeare Name Dictionary, seven years in the making by J. Madison Davis and A. Daniel Frankforter. Each week until the end of the book my plan is to include one or two items of interest from the week’s reading. Here are the first:
From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary:
· “Absey book” – this expression, which is a kind of abbreviation for “ABC book” is used in two of the plays: King John and Love’s Labour’s Lost
· Absyrtus is murdered by Medea and Jason. He is named in Henry VI, Part Two, by young Clifford who find his father murdered: “Henceforth I will not have to do with pity;/Meet I an infant of the house of York,/Into as many gobbets will I cut it/As wild Medea young Absyrtus did./In cruelty will I seek out my fame…” The Dictionary explains: “Shakespeare implies that the passions that divided the houses of York and Lancaster during the War of the Roses inspired brutality equal to the worst found in Greek mythology.” Probably a few more theater-goers of the time could make the connection than those of our day.
· Stadra is the name of a theater in a small town in mid-Sweden. In spite of it being called a summer stage they have been doing winter productions and last year they did ”Shakespeare on Ice”. It said in Svenska Dagbladet during the week.
· Dagens Nyheter had big ads for theater productions in the coming spring. Of interest:
- Hamlet in March in the regional theater of Örebro, a nice town a couple of hours by train from Stockholm. Sounds good! Maybe we’ll get there!
- Romeo and Juliet or as it is called in this case Julia och Romeo at the Royal Ballet in May, to the music by Tchaikovsky. We might make it to that too!
- In May Rufus Wainwright will be in Norrköping, about an hour by train from Stockholm, doing some sonnets.
- Also in DN, in an article about the new series House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, the political intrigues are compared to Macbeth.
- In the novel Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, about Henry VIII’s battle with the pope et al over marrying Anne Boleyn, the author mentions in her end note that the biography of Cardinal Wolsey written in the 1550’s by George Cavendish strongly influenced Shakespeare in his writing of Henry VIII.
Further, since the last report:
- Watched: Hamlet with David Tennant, directed by above mentioned Gregory Doran.
- Continued reading: Harold’s Bloom’s text about Hamlet.
- Finished reading: Stephen Greenblatt’s Hamlet in Purgatory
- Was informed in an email from Blogging Shakespeare that too much time has passed – and why the delay, one might ask? I sent it quickly enough - to post my text on Richard III. Slightly irritating. No time spent on Shakespeare is wasted but with my time so limited I would have preferred to spend it on Hamlet. I wouldn’t have written the text if I hadn’t been asked to. But never mind, I’m over it.
- Started reading: Hamlet, Contemporary Critical Essays, edited by Martin Coyle.
- Started writing: my text on Hamlet.
- Continued writing: “Doing About Hamlet” for Ruby’s Reflections and/or Blogging Shakespeare
Posted this week:
· This Monday report