Shakespeare's Restless World
is a BBC radio series (podcast link
) where the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, explores England during the lifetime of William Shakespeare
as represented by twenty objects, much in the way of his earlier A History of the World in a 100 Objects
). The focus is on Shakespeare's plays and how they were understood by his contemporaries. The series was also published as a book
: Reprints of the Early and Very Rare Jest-Books
Supposed to Have Been Used by Shakespeare
The earliest Shakespeare quartos are over four hundred years old and constitute the rarest, most fragile body of printed literature available to Shakespeare scholars. Sold unbound and often read to pieces, they are among the most ephemeral books of the age and survive in relatively low numbers. In the absence of surviving manuscripts, the quartos offer the earliest known evidence of what Shakespeare might actually have written, and what appeared on the early modern English stage. Only about half of Shakespeare’s plays were printed in quarto during his lifetime (1564–1616), and before the first printed collection of his plays, the First Folio of 1623. They are living artifacts telling the story of how Shakespeare's
Hamlet, Henry V, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and
Romeo and Juliet, to name just a few, first circulated in print.... Due to their rarity and fragility, the earliest quartos are often not accessible to those who need to study them. Today, six institutions in the United Kingdom and United States stand out as the main repositories of the pre-1642 quartos.... Through this international collaboration, many of the earliest Shakespeare quartos are now freely available for in-depth study to students of Shakespeare across the globe.
You can read, compare, read annotations and overlay copies at Quartos.org
Did Amelia Bassano Lanier write William Shakespeare? Her
single volume of poetry, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum
was published in 1611, but Amelia Bassano Lanier
(1569–1645) may have left us even more. John Hudson
, a British Shakespeare scholar and director of the New York theatre ensemble the Dark Lady Players
that if Bassano did not write all of the plays, she was certainly a major collaborator. He is not alone
New technology has changed scholarship. Whereas previous generations of experts have sought to reconcile the differences between quarto and Folio, current thinking highlights the difficult relationship between the various incarnations of Shakespeare's texts, something made easier by the availability of rare Shakespeare quartos in digital databases such as Early English Books Online. The scholar Eleanor Prosser thus detects "considerable evidence" for the elimination of metrical and stylistic "irregularities" in the Folio: short lines are lengthened to 10 syllables, verbs agreed with subjects, double negatives resolved. In addition, a range of unusual words are added to the text, words not used elsewhere by Shakespeare. Prosser concludes: "somewhere behind the Folio … lies a conscientious and exacting editor with literary pretensions", albeit one "more experienced in the transcription of literary than of theatrical works". But who was it?
—Who edited Shakespeare?
by Saul Frampton. [more inside]
Christopher Pound combines and weights lists and ratings from Project Gutenberg, Goodreads, and elsewhere to produce novel sortings of familiar data
—Shakespeare's plays by popularity
, for example. The most successful fiction writers
at Gutenberg, and the top thousand most popular works of fiction
found there. The most highly rated films of 2012
. The most popular Sci-fi and fantasy sub-genres
at Goodreads. [more inside]
The universe (which others call The Twitter) is composed of every word
in the English language; Shakespeare's folios
, line-by-line-by-line; the Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
, exploded; Constantine XI
, in 140 character chunks; Sun Tzu's Art of War
, in its entirety; the chapter headings of JG Ballard
, in abundance; and definitive discographies
of Every. Artist. Ever...
All this, I repeat
, is true, but one hundred forty characters of inalterable wwwtext
cannot correspond to any language, no matter how dialectical or rudimentary it may be. [more inside]
Are the verbal pignuts nipping at thine clay-brained heels yet again? Does your dankish, knotty-ated mind quiver at scouring the bard's
for suitable defense? Then attend thee to the Shakespeare Insult Kit
, where all manner of creations await your dullish wit
--- Othello is a Shakespearean tragedy: when the hero makes a terrible mistake of judgment, his once promising world is led into ruin. Computer analysis of the play, however, suggests that the play is a comedy or, at least, that it does the same things with words that comedies usually do.
On October 26, 2011, Folger Shakespeare Library
Director Michael Witmore
discussed his recent work in Shakespeare studies which combines computer analysis of texts, linguistics, and traditional literary history. Taking the case of Shakespeare's genres as a starting point, Witmore shows how subtle human judgments about the kinds of plays Shakespeare wrote — were they comedies
? — are connected to frequent, widely distributed features in the playwright's syntax, vocabulary, and diction. (approx. 30 minute lecture.) [more inside]
Smithsonian.com lists the top 10 books lost to time.
Amazing to see how differently Shakespeare's work has been dealt with in music: there is Jerry Lee Lewis doing a blues
David Gilmour, former Pink Floyd lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, turned Sonnet 18 into a touchingly beautiful ballad
The Metal Shakespeare Company wrote a heavy metal song about Hamlet (III/1), "To bleed or not to bleed
And yes, there is Shakespeare rap, too: William Shatner (the very same!) raps about Caesar
and British rapper Akala thinks he is a reincarnation of the bard
Last but not least, the Beatles tried their luck at Shakespeare, too (no music this time): they did a skit
on the famous Pyramus and Thisbe scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream (very rare footage!).
400 years ago today, Thomas Thorpe
entered into the Stationers' Register
a book titled "Shake-Speares Sonnets"
. However, Clinton Heylin argues
that - like Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes
- the Sonnets
were never intended for a wide audience. "In both cases, they were killing time and at the same time dealing with huge personal issues in a private way, which they never conceived of coming out publicly."
Should you find yourself wandering around the city of Leiden, the Netherlands sometime, you may notice some curious markings
on the city's walls.
("Wall Poems") adorn many of the town's streets (clickable map)
, and many English-language poets are represented: one John Keats
, for instance, inside a bookshop; Dylan Thomas
, E. E. Cummings
, W.B. Yeats
, some guy called William Shakespeare
, or this ode to Charlie Parker
by American William Waring Cuney
. [more inside]
William Shakespeare wrote some of the world's finest sonnets. The website shakespeares-sonnets.com
is a fine place to start delving into the poems. Here you can see scans of the first edition
of The Sonnets as printed by Thomas Thorpe in 1609. If you wish there were more sonnets by Shakespeare, your jones might be eased by the Shakespeare Sonnet Shake-Up, which lets you remix them according to taste. And finally there's Shakespeare in Tune, a site where Jonathan Willby recites each of the 154 sonnets following a short improvisation on a German flute.
Martha Nussbaum reviews
three recent books on Shakespeare and philosophy. The essay offers an excellent analysis of love in Antony and Cleopatra
, and an excellent discussion of the interaction between philosophy and literature. [more inside]
To honor the Greatest's
birthday, one could consider his greatest work by reading this excellent post by matteo
which touches upon the religious issues facing our confused Protestant hero
, the student at Wittenberg
, who doubts orthodoxy
, cannot decide if he is
, but ultimately accedes to a belief
in divine Providence
, if you would rather dive into an
intriguing amusing royally f'ed up
"unique" analysis of the play, check out this extensive theory
of Hamlet which corrects our accepted and flawed interpretation by explaining that a literal reading of the play tells us, among other things, that King Hamlet was never killed; that Horatio--our narrator--is the King's son and prince Hamlet's half brother; that the guy we incorrectly think of as Claudius is in fact King Hamlet; and that prince Hamlet's father is Fortinbras. Oops. Boy do we have egg on our faces.
Shakespeare's Sonnet 116:
read firmly by Eleanor,
skimmed through somewhat hurriedly by Megan,
recited from memory by the cowboy hatted Bill,
and delivered with a vaguely cockney accent by Will.
There are others,
Shakespeare in the Bush:
in which an anthropologist tells the story of Hamlet
to a group of Tiv
, and ideas about the universal nature of literature get the worst of it.
Beware the Ides of March
! Take a little time today to think about Crazy Old Bill
. There's a ton of Shakespearian stuff out there from the silly
to the scary. (Even if you do think he's a phoney)
. Party Anon, dude.
INTERIOR SHOT: Stratford-upon-Avon; Study; William at desk
To be or not to be...
William: takes long toke from hash pipe on desk
That is the question...
Gay Elizabethan Spy and Playwright found murdered!
Not one, but two
Christopher Marlowe movies. Hollywood,
thou art such a suppurating whore. Thanks to Pete
for the link.