Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday April 8 2013

After two weeks of drought the number of Shakespeare sightings increased dramatically this week. We have also finished the A’s in the Dictionary. So with no further ado…

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary:
  • Asia was mentioned in many of the plays and was seen in Shakespeare’s time and plac as “as an exotic place rich in gold, jewels and wonder.”
  • Athens, in Shakespeare’s time, was under Turkish rule, the Parthenon had been turned into a mosque and it “was just another town under Ottoman rule.” However during the Renaissance the very name evoked images of the glorious Athens of the Antiquity.
  • Athol is a Scottish earldom mentioned in Henry IV, Part Two and on a personal note, the name of a bottle of whiskey bought in a small shop and brewed in a local brewery in Pitlochry on our visit to Scotland last summer.
  • Ave Marie is the last entry in the A’s and it was used in the Henry VI plays.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • Joyce Carol Oates, in her novel Black Girl White Girl mentions Shakespeare as one of the “drearily matched leather bound books” in one of the cottages on the liberal college campus  the two title characters attend.
  • In Louisa Young’s powerful novel about World War I, one of the main characters Riley remembers that his working class father had seen Sir Henry Irving (a well known Victorian actor) as Shylock at the Lyceum.  Riley tries to get through the horrors of the trenches by thinking of writers. Later in the novel another character Rose thinks of Hamlet’s line, “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.” And at the end a third character Nadine thinks about “the naked Ophelia” as she steps into a bath after returning from her work as a nurse at the front: “this is perfect.” She seems to have forgotten what poor Ophelia was doing in the water.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, in her novel Five Red Herrings mentions Shakespeare twice in the first sixteen pages. Wimsey says, “A plague on both your houses” to a couple of brawling pub patrons and then he says about the murdered man, “Nothing in life became him like the leaving it, eh, what?” Guesses on which play?  No more sighting from this novel, though, I gave up on it, rediscovering that I don’t like Sayers’ books.
  • Dagens Nyheter
    • had a notice about how Shakespeare hoarded grain during a famine, calling him “a ruthless businessman.”
    • In the Saturday crossword had the clue “Shakespeare king”.  A regular, but it’s been awhile.
    • In an article about books about family’s King Lear was described: “Poor Lear!  He’s such a hopeless blockhead (fåntratt, for you Swedish speakers).
  • The Roswell saga continues (do any of you remember the series? Have you even heard of it?)
    • The “other” Isabel, one of the punk quartet, tells the real Isabel’s father that she’s dressed up like a punk because playing Juliet in a punk production of R&J. Later this other Isabel asks the real Max and Tess if they’ve made the beast with two backs yet.  I kind of like this evil punk Isabel.
    • Isabel again, the real one this time (the others were defeated and are who knows where) is dream surfing and enters Kyle’s dream in which Buddha is sharing pearls of wisdom, one of which is “To thine own self be true” to which Isobel says arrogantly, “That’s Shakespeare!”
  • In The Big Bang Theory Sheldon’s “World of Warcraft” account has been hacked and stolen and he cries, “It’s time to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” Any guesses on the play?

Further this week:
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: Measure for Measure
  • Learned from friend LR that Joey Tempest of the 80’s hot Swedish hard rock group Europe took his name from (in Joey's words) some “poetry by Shakespeare”.
  • Of interest from the latest issue of “Shakespeare”, the magazine of the Swedish Shakespeare Society:
    • The first translation of Shakespeare into Swedish was in 1813 by the Swedish poet Erik Gustaf Geijer. It was Macbeth. English was not understood by most Swedes at the time,
    • Shakespeare was first performed in Sweden in 1776.  Eight performances are known of in Sweden between 1776-99. In the second half of the 20th century about six performances a year are noted. Now we’re up to about 10.  This does not count smaller amateur productions.
  • Reminder about Blogging Shakespeare: information about an exciting web debate on April 26 about the authorship of Shakespeare 

 Posted this week:


  1. Poor Lear indeed! He always gets it in his neck. Still, "hopeless blockhead" is almost a compliment in comparison with Olivier's "stupid old fart".

    Interestingly enough, a few days ago one Bulgarian newspaper also published an article, a lavishly illustrated full-page affair, about Will as "ruthless businessman". To this grave offence, shady dealings with taxes were added. Will, thou art a villain!

    But is this the most important thing about Shakespeare, I wonder?

    A completely unrelated spam-note. Ever since I came across Ruby's Shakespearean blog, I have wondered from where "Dagens Nyheter" is familiar to me. I have finally solved this epic mystery. In this newspaper, on 9 and 11 November 1954, Bertrand Russell's essay "Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?" was first published. When it was first collected in book form three years later, Mr Edwards, the editor, was kind enough to inform his readers that this is a Stockholm newspaper. I didn't know that.

    Not to be entirely off-topic, there is one beautifully obscure Russell-Shakespeare connection as regards this very book: "Why I am Not a Christian, and other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects", ed. Paul Edwards, 1957. For in this very volume one of Russell's earliest (and weakest, I'm afraid) essays made its first appearance ever - just about 58 years it was written. You all know where its title comes from: "Seems, Madam? Nay, it is"

    No more spam. I promise.

    1. Spam like this is always welcome! Even small connections between the greats is interesting. And being a Swedish chauvinist when it suits me, I'm please you had a nagging memory of Dagens Nyheter.
      About Will's villainy, oh yes, guess he'll have to climb down off that pedestal...
      Any other kind descriptions of poor old Lear, anyone?