Confession time. We’ve read very little in Antony and Cleopatra this week. We’ve done Act 4 and Antony has died but we left poor Cleopatra grieving in her loft. The reason? We’re doing a Harry Potter film marathon. All eight movies in four days. The last one this afternoon. We really will try to finish A+C this week though and since we only have one film to watch it shouldn’t take too long to get something written about it. In the meantime there are connections in HP with Shakespeare (see below). Maybe one day I’ll do an analytical comparison. On the other hand, it’s probably already been done. By cleverer scholars than myself. For now, I’ll just enjoy reflecting on the question in quiet solitude. In the meantime...
From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
- Hallowmas is of course the feast of All Saints and was added to the Christian calendar by Pope Gregory IV in the 9th century. It is mentioned in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Richard II and Measure for Measure. And there was a Halloween feast at Hogwarts in the first Harry Potter film (connection number 1 in this report. Very tenuous, I agree).
- Harfleur is the port where Henry V had his first victory after crying, “Once more unto the breach, my friends, once more!” Hal and I have glimpsed the town from a bus window on one of our trips to France. It’s changed a bit since the other Hal’s day.
- My major source of socialising with Shakespeare this week has been through the interesting book The Story of English – How the English Language Conquered the World by Philip Gooden. There are of course a lot of sightings, among them:
- By Shakespeare’s time the third person singular “s” was replacing the “eth”. Shakespeare used “singeth” once in Hamlet. That’s it. The “s” ending originated in the northern dialects and is one of the few ways in which London English was changed by the dialects of other parts of England.
- Gooden takes a very reasonable and sound stand on the question of authorship – Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s plays. All evidence points to it, not the least of which is that in all the contemporary opinions on Shakepseare, few of course but they do exist, there is not the slightest mention of doubt. He is regarded with respect and affection or contempt as an upstart but only as a playwright.
- The word “gotten” – now more AmE than BrE, was still used in Shakespeare’s day but it was on its way out of BrE. Shakespeare used it five times (who sits and counts these words?? – But I’m glad someone did.)
- Double negatives, taboo today in the English language, were used shamelessly (I assume) by Shakespeare, for example in Twelfth Night: “...nor your name is not Master Cesario; nor this is not my nose neither.”
- In a crossword in Dagens Nyheter two Shakespeare clues were used: “Hamlet’s cranium” and “Shakespeare swam (or bathed) in...” The answers would appear obvious but neither “skull” nor “Yorrick” nor “Avon” worked. It was a very difficult crossword and I never did figure it out.
- IN DN today there is a big article about Richard III which has its premiere on Thursday. Jonas Karlsson (Richard) and Stefan Larsson (director) were interviewed and had some very interesting things to say. For example, parallels can be drawn to today’s political situation in Sweden and the growing racism expressed by, among others, the xenophobic political party Sverigedemokraterna. The question of evil was also discussed and in answer to the question, “Is Richard evil?” Jonas Karlsson says, “Richard III is like all of us – only a little more.” The character himself is described as “charming, eloquent and cunning” and the headline for the article says, “Evil king seduces and draws laughter.” That sounds about right. We’re looking forward to seeing it on March 8.
- And finally, Harry Potter: (both of these were mention before, we saw the films only a year ago after all...)
- In The Prisoner of Azkaban the choir sings a long quote from Macbeth with the chorus being, “Double, double, toil and trouble.”
- In The Goblet of Fire the rock group The Weird Sisters perform “Do the Hippogriff” at the Christmas party.
Further since last time:
- Continued reading aloud: Antony and Cleopatra
Posted this week:
- This Monday report.