Monday, June 1, 2015

June 2015

It’s been a month of proofreading and waiting.  Shakespeare Calling – the book is now at the printers’.  One last proof copy should be on its way and then hopefully I will be able to say, ‘That’s it. Go ahead.’  And then, a few weeks. And then…
In the meantime it’s been rather quiet on the Shakespeare front.  A few sightings, a few doings. So here’s the report of the past month, well, three weeks actually.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary:
  • Tomyris was the queen of Massagetae. She killed Cyrus the Great of Persia for having killed her son in battle.  She threw his head ‘into a bucket filled with human blood and invited him to drink his fill.’ Hmm, sounds like something from Titus Andronicus but she’s only mentioned in Henry VI Part One.
  • The Tower was not, as legend goes, built by Julius Caesar but by William the Conqueror.  It’s still there and costs a fortune to visit so in fact we never have gone in. In our more recent visits to London we haven’t even come close. Anyway, back to D&F: unsurprisingly the Tower figures in the history plays, all the Henrys and Richards. 

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the sci-fi novel Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson a theatre troupe stage a production of Hamlet for the colony on Mars.
  • And in the second of the trilogy Green Mars, the young hero Nirgal attends a performance of King John and discusses with his friends the play’s significance in relation to ‘various forces on Mars, or the Mars-Earth situation itself.’
  • The final chapter in Stephen Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning - from More to Shakespeare deals with the question of empathy and is called ‘The Improvisation of Power.’ The chapter circles around Iago and how he performs ‘a crucial Renaissance mode of behavior’ through his ‘ability both to capitalize on the unforeseen and to transform given materials into one’s own scenario.’ Greenblatt goes on to describe Othello as ‘the supreme symbolic expression of the cultural mode…for violence, sexual anxiety, and improvisation.’ Heavy stuff.
  • In the big crossword from Dagens Nyheter with the theme ‘Family’ the clue was ‘the surnames of the families in Romeo and Juliet.’
  • In a report on the TV’s cultural news we were told of a ballet of Romeo and Juliet in Malmö in which the dancers are of various ages. Romeo is very young and Juliet is very old.  It looked wonderful.
  • Oliver Sachs, in his book Musicophilia, uses this quote from Troilus and Cressida to head a chapter about losing one’s sense of music, a condition called amusia: ‘Untune that string / And hark, what discord follows?
  • In Dagens Nyheter a reporter who likes to wander around cemeteries reflects that in ‘Great Britain one can fantasise an entire Shakespeare play from the unknown names and dates.’  The heading for the column is ‘Cemeteries are like Shakespeare plays.’ 

Further since last time:
  • Actually this should have been reported last time but I simply forgot: After seeing The Merchant of Venice at the Globe with our friends in April we had dinner at the George Inn, which some of you may recall existed in Shakespeare’s time and we like to believe that he was a guest there.
  • Purchased: a new edition of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, because after our latest reading, the Norton edition is completely falling into pieces, and most of the plays are underlined and heavily marked. We need a fresh one to start the next reading. This time we bought the Royal Shakespeare Company edition and we are leaning heavily towards reading the history plays. By the next report we may well have started.

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Posted June 1, 2015


  1. It is now the beginning of July I finally got my hands on Shakespeare Calling-the book! I'm so happy reading an actual paper book even though I do most of my reading on-line, on Kindle or other e-readers. I watched Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing and then read Ruby's thoughts on Branagh's version before commenting here on the blog! I like the combination and interaction between traditional paper media and blogs!
    I know not everyone is as fortunate to live in the same town as the author Ruby Jand so you have to tell the rest of the world how they too can purchase your book! :)

    1. Great comment, AnneliT. Thank you! And on today's report, July 2015, you'll find the links needed to purchase the book wherever you are in the world.

    2. Great comment, AnneliT. Thank you! And on today's report, July 2015, you'll find the links needed to purchase the book wherever you are in the world.