Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday August 19 2013

Finally!  It has been a long wait and I have been swamped with teacher stuff. Being a teacher is hard work! But now I’m back to working 80% and Mondays are for Shakespeare.  During this period Hal and I have been reading and watching Othello and that is no picnic. We have one play version left to watch, a Swedish production televised last spring, and I have my text left to finish writing, and then we can go on to Timon of Athens, King Lear, Macbeth and other jolly plays. For this week though, I’ll get caught up on the name dictionary, sightings and other activities.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
Somehow I missed this last time, sorry. Since there has been nothing about Othello in the C’s so far I’ve chosen items connected with my current mania, Merlin. I do so enjoy it when my passions interconnect:
  • Cadwallader, “last of the native British kings to offer serious resistance to the Anglo-Saxons who invaded Britain after the fall of the Roman Empire.”  Hmmm, Arthur? D+F don’t mention it and in Henry V, they point out, the Welsh are insultingly called goats.
  • Cambria, the medieval Latin for Wales, where King Camber ruled.  Another candidate for Arthur?  It’s where Belarius lived in exile in Cymbeline anyway.
  • Camelot – yes it’s actually mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear: “I’d drive ye cackling home to Camelot” (folio) or “”I’d send you cackling home to Camelot” (quarto). Kent is speaking to Cornwall. D+F don’t provide the quote however; I had to go find it myself.

 Shakespeare sightings:
  • On my shelf of old sci-fi novels I found The Two of Them by Joanna Russ, which I somehow have never read until now.  Even here Shakespeare makes his appearance: TransTemp agent Ernest tells his partner (both professionally and privately), Irene, that if she insists on digging into the background of their employers, “You’d lose your profession, like Othello.”
  • The second half of Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England has as many sightings as the first and they deal with beds, rented chambers, hoarding, cleaning one’s hair, bad breath, humanity and inhumanity, Indians, football, bears, music, lasting fame, London theaters and finally: “Probably no other Englishman has been more influential…his writings are the biggest step ever taken along the path towards understanding the human condition. It is a path we are still following.” I like this Mortimer!
  • In the interesting novel by Amy Brill based roughly on the 19th century astronomer Maria Mitchell, Shakespeare is listed among the greats included in the library.
  • In his appreciation of the book A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, columnist David Brooks writes in Dagens Nyheter, July 10, 2013, “Shakespeare helped us see human nature in a more multifaceted way.”
  • In the same newspaper the 13th there is a review of the production “Ariel & Caliban” at the Roma Cloister Ruins on the island of Gotland in the Baltic. It’s a newly written play in which these two are siblings and the critic liked the humor and the music.
  • And on the 17th there was a notice that the Globe, to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, is going to perform Hamlet in almost 200 countries.  Nothing is yet booked for Sweden.
  • In Paul Torday’s novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (see the movie, it’s better) press secretary to the prime minister writes that in trying to describe what has happened he has to write something more difficult than anything in Shakespeare.
  • In The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern the main character Celia is called Miranda by her magician father who fancies himself Prospero. In the magic tent Shakespeare quotes flit in and out. A raven sleeps on the complete works of Shakespeare. Celia tells her ghostly father that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio etc and when he becomes too unbearable she throws volumes of the plays at him but they pass right through him. And finally, at the end of the book, Prospero’s “Our revels now are ended” soliloquy heads the final chapter.
  • M.J. Hyland in her novel This Is How tells us that her character had once seen posters advertising The Merchant of Venice.
  • In the movie 50 Days of Summer one of the characters says, “The lady doth protest too much,” and the reply is, “The lady dothn’t.”
  • In the film My Week with Marilyn Olivier (Branagh) says, “We hope you will find a method in our madness” and when Colin (Eddie Redmayne) comes through the window Marilyn (Mitchell) says, “Just like Romeo and Juliet.”  And when Olivier sees Marilyn on film he says, “This is such stuff as dreams are made on.”
  • In the film Cinéma Verité the family father’s girlfriend quotes Ophelia to impress TV producer James Gandolfini.
  • In the film Gas, Food and Lodging one of the character’s name is Hamlet Humphrey and the actor who played “man at picnic” (what picnic? I don’t remember a picnic) is named Hamlet Arman.
  • Ann-Marie MacDonald, in her novel Fall on Your Knees, has her character James add to his mother’s collection of classics which included Shakespeare. Later, during the First World War, James’ fellow soldiers called him Lady Macbeth because he polished his boots so obsessively. Years later his daughter Kathleen writes in her diary about opera singers doing the roles of Otello and Desdemona, Romeo and Giulietta.
  • Johnny Depp – a Retrospective by Steven Daly is quite a fascinating book which early on mentions one of the big questions I have about JD, why hasn’t he done Shakespeare? Evidently Marlon Brando agreed with me because according to Daly he advised JD to do Hamlet before he’s too old and gray. A couple of other references are made to Shakespeare: JD’s role in Dark Shadows is compared to William Shatner’s pompousness (this is a translation from the Swedish “högtravande” – I read the book in Swedish) when playing Shakespeare.  I don’t have an opinion, not having seen either Shatner doing Shakespeare nor Dark Shadows (yet). Another reference – the character of Rango (JD’s voice) warms up his voice in “a manner worthy of a self-satisfied Shakespeare a-a-a-ahctor”. OK….
  • After having admired the Thames for ten days in June from the window of our breakfast restaurant we found an interesting book called Liquid History the Thames through Time by Stephen Croad.  It has old photographs from places along the entire river with explanatory texts.  Sadly it has nothing of the present Globe (why not??) but it has a photo of Garrick’s Shakespeare Temple in Hampton. It now houses a Garrick Museum and a replica of Roubiliac’s Shakespeare statue. The original, from 1758, is now in the British Museum. Later on in the book, it is mentioned that the National Theater’s first production was of Hamlet in 1963.
  • In the movie Jerry Maguire a divorced women’s group poses the question “Is Romeo under the balcony a stalker?” I think they’re kidding…
  • And finally, a nice little notice in Dagens Nyheter yesterday: in the weekly column called “Five Favorites”, columnist Harald Bergius writes for his number 1: “It’s easy to forget one thing in this world, even though one should know better, namely he could write, this Shakespeare.  One of my summer’s absolute highlights (go ahead and laugh) was to read Romeo and Juliet in Göran O. Eriksson’s fresh translation and now and then burst out, aloud to myself, ‘Damn, that’s good!’ And, ‘Clever!’ and ‘Oh no, Romeo, don’t do it!’” I’m pleased to note that this was the translation from 1972 given to me by my friend AC last spring.  I’m looking forward to reading it.

 Further this month:

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