Monday March 24 2014
Pericles is moving along quickly. In fact it might be the play where the most happens in the fewest number of pages. I quite like it and wish we had more than one version to watch. Ah well. Otherwise this week has offered a couple of books with quite a lot of sightings and one with one. So here we go.
From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
- Holborn is the road leading into London from the west via Newgate. This where the bishop of Ely had his strawberries that Richard III pretended to want, although D&F don’t mention that. It’s actually not far from the British Museum so we might have walked there ourselves!
- Holland was having its war of independence against Spain during Shakespeare’s lifetime. That’s a bit mind boggling, isn’t it?
- The highlight of this week has been reading One of Our Thursday is Missing by the brilliant Jasper Fforde. It’s the sixth (or seventh if you count the deleted one in the list) in the series and while Thursday herself is indeed missing, her stand-in, the written Thursday, comes to the rescue. It’s actually quite a sad book even though it’s at the same time wildly funny. And it has many Shakespeare sightings:
- When the Book World has been Remade, the written Thursday looks up at the sky in amazement and whispers, “Oh brave new world that has such stories in it!” If you’d like to comment here and tell us which play and the original word used where Thursday says “stories”, you’re more than welcome.
- Written Thursday’s written housekeeper, Mrs. Malaprop, is often hard to understand and they’re considering using Dogberry stem cells to cure her.
- Written Thursday’s new stand-in Carmine asks in awe of the real Thursday, “Did she really take Hamlet into the RealWorld?” They go on to discuss Iago’s visits to Sons and Lovers, the importance of playing your character subtly different on alternated readings – “Hamlet’s been doing it for years”, says written Thursday to Carmine – and to Carmine’s question about ever having met Hamlet the reply is, “No, but I saw the back of his head at last year’s Book World Conference.”
- When faced with complex problems, written Thursday says, “It appeared that something, while not exactly rotten in the state of the Book World, was far from fresh.”
- On her way to the Jurisfiction headquarters written Thursday goes via Shakeaspeare Terminus.
- Both unsure if written Thursday is the real Thursday with mental problems, Landon asks her questions only the real Thursday could know the answers to. One of them is about their first date and written Thursday says, “At the Alhambra. The Richard III thing.” Landon says that that was later. (In the first book - do you remember?)
- Written Thursday is introduced to members of the “Siblings of More Famous BookWorld Personalities” self-help group, including Tracy Capulet “who has slept her way around Verona twice.”
- Later Tracy is mentioned as having locked her more famous sister in a cupboard.
- Standing in as the real Thursday at the Jurisfiction office written Thursday hears a report that Othello seems to have murdered his wife to which the Commander replies, “Again? I do wish that trollop Desdemona would be more careful when she’s fooling around. What is it this time? Incriminating love letters?” He’s very upset when he hears that it’s a handkerchief and wants to speak to Iago immediately. When told Iago is busy doing a spin-off of Hamlet...well this gets quite complicated with Shylock and Portia involved as well so I suggest you read the book!
- In an advert for Fforde Ffiesta at the end of the book the question is asked, “Do you want to speed- read “To be or not to be?”
- In the book Idiomantics – The Weird World of Popular Phrases by Philip Gooden and Peter Lewis there are, for obvious reasons, quite a lot of Shakespeare sightings:
- In a discussion on how “uncle” figures in various phrases, Claudius, the murderous uncle of Hamlet, is given as an example of how uncles aren’t always so nice.
- The connection between “apple-pie order” and the ghost of Hamlet’s father may seem very tenuous but the authors manage to make it.
- The expression “to buy the farm”, meaning to die, is connected to the gravediggers in Hamlet. Actually I think the authors are just name-dropping...
- “Hoist with one’s own petard,” on the other hand is actually from Shakespeare, Henry V to be more exact and we are told that a petard is an explosive device commonly used in siege work. So obviously we don’t want to be hoisted on one, our own or anyone else’s.
- In explaining “kick the bucket” Falstaff’s reference to a worker with a brewer’s bucket is mentioned. Falstaff is, as we know, quite the expert at brews.
- “Not enough room to swing a cat in” was probably not a figure of speak but quite literal in Shakespeare’s day since Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing has no qualms about abusing a cat if he ever falls in love.
- “At one fell swoop” was first used in Macbeth. And in Hamlet fell is used to mean cruel.
- “It’s all Greek to me” was coined in Julius Caesar.
- To steal someone’s thunder came about in the 17th century when different ways of producing thunder in theatres were tried. A rather unsuccessful playwright John Dennis was at a production of Macbeth when he realised that his invention for thunder was being used in this production. He was not pleased.
- “For the rain it raineth every day” is cited as an example of how many expressions we have dealing with the weather
- In Good-bye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, upon which the play and film Cabaret is based, the protagonist has written a novel, the title of which, All the Conspirators, is taken from Julius Caesar. When telling a new acquaintance this, the new friend claims that Shakespeare is almost a German poet because the translations of his works are so fine.
Further since last time:
- Continued reading aloud with Hal: Pericles
Posted this week:
- This Monday report.