It’s been rather quiet on the Shakespeare front this week. But here’s the report. There are bits and pieces of interest.
From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
- Mulmutius is a mythic king of England, supposedly the first, but history is a bit muddled. Holinshed would have him the instigator of many wise laws, whereas Geoffrey of Monmouth, who also calls him a lawgiver, presents him as the son of Cloten, king of Cornwall. Cloten? He’s the very nasty villain in Cymbeline, and that is the only play in which Mulmutius is mentioned in Shakespeare, who gets his history muddled once in awhile too...
- Nature is not just the trees and lakes we enjoy when we go out walking, it is, D&F tell us, “goddess personification of the creative forces, what is given at birth as opposed to what is shaped by Fortune”. They go on to explain, “Differentiating between when Shakespeare is using Nature as a personification or when he is using it as an abstract noun is often a difficult decision for editors.” It is used in many of the plays; I’d venture to say all of them.
- In the almost unreadable Anne of the Island, the third in the Green Gable series, the author L.M. Montgomery displays her knowledge of Shakespeare with many references:
- Anne is given Shakespeare’s plays as a token of appreciation.
- Living in a room with many cushions, a thought it given to those who have lived in houses where cushions were loved not wisely but too well.
- An unwanted proposal of marriage murdered sleep for Anne though the proposer was unlike Macbeth in all other ways.
- “By the pricking of my thumbs,” Anne feels that something mysterious is about to happen.
- Anne’s landladies are “hardly such stuff as dreams are made of.”
- Davey declares to his unbelieving sister that he did so have a good time “in the voice of one who doth protest too much”.
- Later Davey leaves the room, “and stood not upon the order of his going,”
- Upon regarding still another refused proposal Anne reflected that, “Men have died and the worms have eaten them but not for love.”
- There were more but I don’t wish to make this list as tedious as the book was at times...
- Boudica by Vanessa Collingridge continues to be a treasure of British history. The above mentioned Raphael Holinshed, whose work was the source of Shakespeare’s history plays, also wrote about Boudica, in a renaissance of interest in the ancient history of Britain. One wonders why Shakespeare didn’t write a play about the warrior queen. Who knows? He might have been considering it but when Elizabeth died and James became king, the society turned distinctively misogynistic and playwrights had to tread very carefully indeed.
- There was review in Dagens Nyheter of Verdi’s Otello, now being played in some obscure place in the countryside in a barn-like ex-sawmill. Hmmm. But the critic called it “painfully elegant.”
Further since last time:
- Continued reading aloud with Hal: Cymbeline.
- Received from friends KJG and JG: Slings and Arrows, the DVD box of a Canadian comedy series about a theatre group putting on Shakespeare plays. We’re really looking forward to seeing it!
Posted this week:
- This Monday report.
- Book report on A Companion to Shakespeare‘s Works – the Tragedies, edited by Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard