Happy Birthday, dear William! 450 years old this week, well done. You’re very much in the news this week, and coincidentally in the books I’ve been reading so here we go:
From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
- Jessica is a popular girl’s name these days. Shakespeare invented the current version of the name when he created the not altogether admirable character of Shylock’s daughter in The Merchant of Venice.
- John is the name of many characters in Shakespeare and appears not only as the title role in King John but in smaller roles in Henry VI Part One, Richard III, Henry IV Part One, Much Ado about Nothing, Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet and Henry V.
- In Edna Ferber’s novel Giant the main character Leslie, angry with her husband Jordan as she so often is, is told by one of her friends, “Stop looking like Lady Macbeth.”
- In London a Social History Roy Porter
- quotes Oscar Wilde in connection with the excellence of London, “’Shakespeare wrote nothing but doggerel verse before he came to London and never penned a line after he left’.”
- Reports that in the 1830s Covent Garden led a Shakespeare revival.
- Dagens Nyheter has Rickard III as number two on the best on stage list this week too.
- DN also had a four-page supplement about Shakespeare in honour of the coming birthday. The title: “Dear William, Who were you actually?” (In Swedish: “Dear William, vem var du egentligen?”) The journalist made a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, was horrified at finding in a gift shop little yellow rubber ducks looking like Shakespeare and talked to actors and others involved in the Birth Place and Grave. She visited the Globe and the British Library and included a list of famous quotes. Another reporter tells of experiencing Shakespeare when he was in London to go to football games and realizing that it’s not necessary to understand everything but that the language itself is enough.
- DN’s crossword on one of the Easter days included a clue using the witches of Macbeth. Witches are an Easter thing in Sweden.
- In the little gem English Proverbs Explained by Ronald Ridout and Clifford Witting, borrowed from MM of the library’s English Book Circle, there are naturally many Shakepseare sightings. The introduction tells us what we all know, that Shakespeare is the source of a great many proverbs and household words, so often used that we are often unaware of the source. Here are just a few from the more than fifteen proverbs listed so far:
- “Conscience does make cowards of us all” – Hamlet
- “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose” – The Merchant of Venice
- “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” – Hamlet
- “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin” – Troilus and Cressida. Not the most famous quote exactly; what it means is that a show of human emotion often brings people together.
- “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – Romeo and Juliet
- “Sweet are the uses of adversity” – As You Like It
- “There is a tide in the affairs of men” – Julius Caesar
- Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet was on TV this past week.
- In the documentary film Lost in La Mancha, about the ill-fated filming by Terry Gilliam of Don Quixote, the fact that this project was jinxed from the start was compared to bad luck that reportedly often accompanies production of “the Scottish play” and when an unexpected thunderstorm floods out the filming of one of the desert scenes, King Lear is mentioned.
Further since last time:
- Continued reading aloud with Hal: Coriolanus
Posted this week:
- This Monday report.
- Report on Contested Will – Who Wrote Shakespeare? By James Shapiro