Sunday, May 1, 2016

May 2016

What a Shakespeare month April has been! Newspapers and television have been filled with Shakespeare, his plays are everywhere, celebrations have abounded. So much has happened that I scarcely know where to begin. So I’ll just begin:
Shakespeare Calling – the book
or Adlibris, CDON or Bibliotekstjänsten
Please help promote the book by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it!
Once again, thank you all for visiting the blog throughout the years and for supporting this project.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary:
  • Wye is a river flowing from southern Wales to the Bristol channel. The name is Celtic for ‘conveyor’. It is mentioned in Henry IV Part One and Henry V. 

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel The Long Room by Francesca Kay the main character Stephen, when he was at university, fell for the student playing Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Later when leaving a pub, his colleague says, ‘Once more into the breach, old man.’ Another colleague whose baby niece has been saved by modern medicine says, ‘…when people say that they’d like to have lived in ancient times so that they could have had a chat with Shakespeare, I point out that they probably would have died at birth…’
  •  Dagens Nyheter has had so many articles that I will just mention a few: a comparison of Othello and today’s fear and hatred between ethnic groups, a review of an opera version of Hamlet, a rather uninteresting Sunday supplement with various articles about the 400th celebration, a notice on how the Shakespeare hype in England is even worse than here in Sweden, one on Shakespeare and Cervantes sharing the same death date but not day, a long article by Salmon Rushdie about Shakespeare and Cervantes, an interview with well-known actor Mikael Persbrandt doing Macbeth, a review on a Twelfth Night
  • In the very good novel In the Woods by Tana French
    • DCIs Rob and Cassie are talking about Shakespeare and Rob wants to continue but Cassie starts telling him about an attempt to molest her when she was a child.
    • Rob is questioning the father of the victim and asks, ‘Who’s the Shakespeare fan?’ The father doesn’t understand until Rob points out that the man’s three daughters are called Rosalind, Jessica and Katharine, all Shakespeare characters. The father replies that Rob is the first to have picked up on that, and yes, he had gone through a self-improvement period when he read Shakespeare, Milton and other classics. I hadn’t picked up on it…
  • In the novel Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss, young Ally is given A Midsummer Night’s Dream which her puritanical mother finds unsuitable. Ally thinks about various Shakespeare characters throughout the novel.
  • In Jodi Taylor’s One Damned Thing After Another, in which the characters are skilled time travellers, they find two lost Shakespeare plays about the Scottish queen, which makes them realise that some mistake has been made in their travels and history has been changed.
  • In Mark Billinham’s 5th Tom Thorne novel Tom’s friend Phil Hendricks philosophises about human nature and comes to the conclusion that if you want Shakespeare you also get Shipman (a mass murderer, I had to Google him).
  • On The Third Rock from the Sun Dick and Mary are playing a sex board game and Dick gets the question, ‘What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in bed?’ His answer is that he staged Othello in bed and Desdemona was played by a duvet.
  • On The X Files someone (I didn’t note who) used the phrase ‘mortal coil’ etc.
  • On Kulturnytt Jeanette Winterson is interviewed about her new book The Gap in Time, roughly based on The Winter’s Tale, one of a series of novels based on Shakespeare plays. She said among other things that reading Shakespeare is a reality check, comparing today’s refugee situation with the shepherds taking care of baby Perdita in The Winter’s Tale. Today we say that refugee children aren’t our problem and turn them away and Winterson asks, ‘What have we learned in the past 400 years, really?’ 

Further since last time: 
  • Read aloud: excerpts from Shakespeare Calling – the book at a well-attended ‘Breakfast talk’ at the English Bookshop in Stockholm
  • Received and started reading: Kent Hägglund’s Shakespeare en man för alla tider.
  • Performed: with SEST the program for the 400th anniversary on the 23rd and 24th April. On the 22nd Macbeth only was performed but I was there with Shakespeare Calling – the book. All three performances were sold out. Some comments from the audience: ‘brilliant!’ ‘impressive!’ ‘magical!’ ‘the best thing I’ve seen in years!’ ‘I’ll never see a Shakespeare play in Swedish again!’, ‘sooooo impressed, enjoyed everything immensely!’  See further ‘On stage with Shakespeare’, posted today.
  • Bought: Howard Jacobson’s Sherlock is My Name, one of a series of novels based on Shakespeare plays.
  • Watched, a few days after the live sending: Shakespeare Live with the RSC and BBC. It’s available on Svt-play until 15 May Don’t miss it! 

Posted this month


  1. I believe you meant "Shylock is My Name" by Howard Jacobson. :-)

  2. I believe you are right! Thank you :-) I was having a Swedish moment - only the first word in Swedish titles is capitalised.

    1. I actually meant the intrusion of "Sherlock". :D