Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 2015

The months seem to go by as quickly as the weeks and it’s already time for the blog’s second Monthly Report. 
The editing of the book version of Shakespeare Calling progresses but what in the world have I taken upon myself!
Meanwhile, the world of Shakespeare carries on...

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
  • St. Albans is a town on the northern outskirts of London.  It dates from Roman times and was one of the early sites of an English monastery. During the War of the Roses battles were fought there and it figures in Henry IV Parts One and Two and Henry VI Part Two.
  • Saint Colum’s Inch sounds like a measurement but isn’t.  Inch, we are told, means island and this particular little bit of land is in the firth of Edinburgh. It’s mentioned in Macbeth and is named after the Christianiser of the Picts.
  • Scrivener, though an important occupation in illiterate societies and therefore in the times Shakespeare writes about, is mentioned only in Richard III.
  • The Severn is England’s second longest river and has long served as the border between Wales and England. It is mentioned in Henry IV Part One and Cymbeline.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey a woman who has died in a street of post-war London had been carrying flowers which were now strewn about her “so she looked like an old Ophelia who’s mistaken the road for a river.”
  • In the novel Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery our intrepidly cheerful heroine reflects that one of her acquaintances “is of Hamlet’s opinion that it may be better to bear the ills that we have than fly to others we know not of.” Later, a friend, on the subject of naming one’s children, recalls someone who named their child Bertie Shakespeare Drew.
  • In Omeros, the poem by Derek Wolcott, the character Plunkett remembers his father referring to Shakespeare, but to tell you the truth I don’t understand the poem well enough to explain further.
  • Veronica Mars attends her school’s audition for Hamlet.
  • Dagens Nyheter has adverts for Twelfth Night, premiering in February at the Royal Dramatic Theatre and Pericles, a kind of musical production at Berwaldshallen at the end of January.
  • Elegy for Eddie, a novel by Jacqueline Winspear, notes that the “course of true love ne’er did run smooth.” This has become such a truism that I almost didn’t include it but in fact it is a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But you knew that.
  • The trailer of Cymbeline with Ethan Hawke and Ed Harris has appeared on IMdB. It’s a very interesting play. I’m glad a film has finally been made of it!
  • In Jojo Moyes’s novel The Ship of Brides the captain says to Frances, “...are you saying that what happened wasn’t your doing? That you might have been...more sinned against than sinning?”
  • The title of German journalist Günter Wallraff’s book Aus der schönen neuen Welt (From the Brave New World or in Swedish, the language I read it in, Rapport från vår sköna nya värld) contains a quote from The Tempest It’s a very good book, about how new liberalism has pushed more and more people to the margins and beyond of economic security and democratic rights.
  • In the classic thriller Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Shakespeare is mentioned but once, when the villain uses Othello as an example of insane husbandly jealousy.
  • Veronica Mars continues to be scholarly: “the beast with two backs.”
  • In the very interesting A People’s History of London by Lindsey German and John Rees, Sir John Oldcastle, “friend of King Henry V and a model for Shakespeare’s Falstaff,” was imprisoned in the Tower for Lollardy, forerunner of the egalitarian Puritanism and the English Revolution.
  • In the science fiction novel 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, Shakespeare is listed among those chosen through throwing darts by the International Astronomical Union for a cultural mosaic. Later an attack on the Mercurials is referred to as their “winter of discontent.”
  • In the film Amazing Grace a reference is made in an exchange between anti-slave trade activist William Wilberforce and his friend the prime minister William Pitt to “bloody noses and cracked crowns” from Henry IV Part Two, a play about England changing.
  • In the Saturday library column in Dagens Nyheter Shakespeare is mentioned as one of the authors who had already written their greatest works before they became old, which he never did really. Become old, that is.
  • In Jojo Moyes’s novel Windfallen one of the characters considers herself more sinned against than sinning, but as is often the case, no awareness that this is a Shakespeare quote is indicated.
  • Dagens Nyheter had a review in yesterday’s paper of the Shakespeare Ensemble’s performance with the Trondheimsolisten at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm of Pericles (see above). It’s called “tongue-twisting action”. The play is described and the performance is said to be more interesting as a language lesson than as theatre but the critic Leif Zern likes the music.

Further since last time:
  • Worked: on the book version of Shakespeare Calling.

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