Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday December 24 2012 and YearThat Was

A “This Was the Year That Was” report should rightfully come on New Year’s Eve but Hal and I will be spending New Year’s in the wilds of northern Sweden, more exactly outside the village of Drängsmark – find that on your map if you can!  It’s about 200 kilometers from the Arctic Circle.  Latest report: snow and 20 below (centigrade).  Our friend, MR, assures us haughtily that of course they have internet up there so theoretically I could do a Monday report and End of Year Report next week but…even Shakespeare has to take a day off now and then.  So this report will include the chronicle. And in fact I won’t be back on the blog until January 14 because I have to work on Monday, January 7. So here you have the last posting of 2012:

From Gregory Doran's Shakespeare Almanac:
  • Nothing this week.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • From an old issue of the Swedish weekly Flamman (I go through the piles of magazines and newspapers on the kitchen table once in awhile) a quiz (guessing the answer from clues worth five points, four points etc): 5 points – This legend was born in 1890 in Torquay, Devon and died in 1976 in Oxfordshire. Some of her works were written under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. 4 points – Next after William Shakespeare the world’s best-selling author…If you want to know the rest (if you haven’t guessed already) let me know.  I didn’t actually know that Shakespeare is the best-selling author, is that true??
  • In Steven Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought there is a 3-page discussion on how to define our concept of the name “William Shakespeare” and the conclusion is, ”So what exactly  does William Shakespeare mean if not ‘great writer, author of Hamlet, “ and so on?” What indeed?
  • Nick Hornby continues to refer to Shakespeare in Songbook
    • As a teenager NH preferred American quiz shows to the English heritage represented by Stratford etc.
    • In arguing that it’s OK for pop songs to use the same themes over and over again NH points out that Shakespeare recycled old (and not so old) stories.
    • “What a piece of work is…” a boxed set. How can so few works evoke an entire play?
  • In the third Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novel by Laurie R. King, A Letter of Mary, there are several sightings, the best of which are:
    • “Shakespeare must have been an insomniac. He has an overly affectionate fixation on sleep that borders on obsession. It can only have stemmed from privation.” I have made the same observation myself, also an insomniac…
    • An all-woman troupe that specialized in rude productions of Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare is mentioned.  Hmm, sounds interesting, this might have been listed in my reflections on “Can You Do That to Shakespeare?”
    • “The poet’s pen…gives to airy nothings a local habitation and a name.”  Quoted as a chapter heading of Part Five.  Any guesses? I don’t have a clue, a sonnet probably but I haven’t checked it out yet.
  • In the Swedish novel Eld (Fire), the second in a trilogy by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren, the high school students continue to study Romeo and Juliet in English.
  • Shakespeare in Love was shown on Swedish TV this weekend but we didn’t watch it. We have it, we’ve seen it a few times, and we’ll watch it again probably after our second marathon.
 Further, since the last report:
  • Finished: Bloom’s chapter on Twelfth Night.
  • Watched: Branagh’s production of same.
  • Wrote: rough draft of text on same.
 And now to The Shakespeare Calling Year That Was 2012:
·         Plays read and analyzed in 2012
o   Richard II - “Richard and Henry Do History”
o   The Life and Death of King John -  “Caught in the Middle, Lady Blanche”
o   The Merchant of Venice -  “Us and Them”
o   Henry IV Part One – “Language, Lies and Truth”
o   The Merry Wives of Windsor – “Wise Wives and Laundry Baskets”
o   Henry IV Part Two – “Hal and His Pal”
o   Much Ado About Nothing – “Is This Love?”
o   Henry V – “When Hoodlums Become Kings”
o   The Tragedy of Julius Caesar – “He Reads Much”
o   As You Like It – “Celia”
o   Twelfth Night” – “And the Winner Is…” (written but not yet posted)
·         Books Reviewed in 2012
o   Shakespeare – The World As a Stage by Bill Bryson
o   Shakespeare's Philosophy – Discovering the Meaning Behind the Plays by Colin McGinn.
o   Will in the World – How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt.
o   Shakespeare and Music – Afterlives and Borrowings by Julie Sanders
o   Shakespeare’s Wife by Germaine Greer
o   Shakespeare Our Contemporary by Jan Kott
o   Marxist Shakespeares edited by Jean E. Howard et al
o   Shakespeare in the Movies from the Silent Era to Today by Douglas Brode
·         Shakespeare Calling followers – now 12.
·         Shakespeare Calling – blog visit statistics
o   Total so far: 4,823
o   Top ten countries: Sweden, the US, Germany, the UK, Russia, the Netherlands, Australia, France, Canada, Bulgaria
o   Others of interest: Egypt, Burma, Venezuela, Iraq, South Africa, Latvia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Greece, Kenya…and many more. I’m sorry if I didn’t mention your country!
·         Shakespeare Calling – three most visited postings
o    A Midsummer Night’s Dream  - “Love Is Strange”
o   Romeo and Juliet “Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty (or Twenty-Eight)
o   Henry IV Part Two – “Hal and His Pal”

So that was the week and the year that was. Thank you all for an exciting year of Shakespeare Calling.  I wish you all the best in 2013. Happy New Year!


  1. Wow, if Wikipedia is to be believed, it is in fact the case:

    William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and... who? Barbara Cartland? Never heard of her.

    1. Wikipedia would never lie. And Cartland? You don't have to add her to your list of top priorities.