Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday, February 20 2012

In the midst of my feverish scribbling on my text on King John (to be posted next week, I hope), I'm taking a break to cool down and write this Monday's report. One of the things accomplished this week was to start reading The Shakespeare Almanac, compiled by Gregory Doran, for the third time. It was a gift from our dear friend MR a couple of years ago. We started reading it aloud a date at a time and have now done it twice. The book contains a wealth of information about the life and times of Shakespeare. In the Monday reports I will henceforth note some of them. So this week's notes are:

  • February 15 – On this day in 1564 Galileo was born, two months before William Shakespeare.
  • February 18 – On this day, two months before Shakespeare was born, Michelangelo died.

It's lucky there was something to report from the Almanac because there haven't been so many sightings and some of them are a bit odd:

Shakespeare sightings:

  • Steven Pinker in his book Words and Rules continues to refer to Shakespeare and his language and he astutely notes, among other things, that, “We do not speak like Shakespeare (1564-1616), who did not speak like Chaucer (1343-1400), who did not speak like the author of Beowulf (around 750-800)” (p.47) He's not just stating the obvious, he's making a point against language police who don't want language to change.
  • In the movie Bobby, about the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Anthony Hopkins' character says to Harry Belafonte's character about their daily chess game, “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.” Anthony Hopkins has undoubtedly said these very words on stage in their original context in...well, which play? Contest time! First to comment correctly on the blog gets the big prize!
  • In the old sci-fi novel The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (the author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep upon which the classic movie Blade Runner was based), an obscure reference to Shakespeare is made and I quote: “Commit suicide by drowning himself on an ocean voyage? Maybe I ought to do that. But here there was no ocean. But there is always a way. Like in Shakespeare. A pin stuck through one's shirt front, and good-bye Frank” (p.35). There, did you get that? I didn't. Please explain if you can!

That's it for this week.


  1. I'm afraid I can't resist: Macbeth for the "Tomorrow" one, and as for the "pin", I suspect Richard II:

    All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
    That rounds the mortal temples of a king
    Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
    Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
    Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
    To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
    Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
    As if this flesh which walls about our life,
    Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
    Comes at the last and with a little pin
    Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king! [...]

    There's also Hamlet's "bare bodkin", and the gravedigger's speech on the water coming to Ophelia to take into account...

    What do you think?

  2. Here you are, James, your fine prize for the tomorrow quote: :-)
    And yes, absolutely, I agree with your Richard II quote, that has to be it and I'm somewhat embarrassed about not having thought of it myself, having recently read and written about the play. The bare bodkin is a possibility, yes, but the actual pin seems to be spot on. Well done! I wish I could give you an even finer prize for that but alas this is what you get, another :-)