Shakespeare in Tehran by Stephen Greenblatt [New York Review of Books]
"For more than four centuries now he has served as a crucial link across the boundaries that divide cultures, ideologies, religions, nations, and all the other ways in which humans define and demarcate their identities. The differences, of course, remain—Shakespeare cannot simply erase them—and yet he offers the opportunity for what he called “atonement.” He used the word in the special sense, no longer current, of “at-one-ment,” a bringing together in shared dialogue of those who have been for too long opposed and apart."
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 (previously). The focus is on Shakespeare's plays and how they were understood by his contemporaries. The series was also published as a book.
Folger Shakespeare Library Releases 80,000 Images for Creative Common Use. The Folger Shakespeare Library announced yesterday, that they have released the contents of their Digital Image Collection under a Creative Commons Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA) license. Full database can be accessed here.
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]
'Dark Lady' of Shakespeare's sonnets 'finally revealed to be London prostitute called Lucy Negro' [dailymail.co.uk] "New research claims The 'Dark Lady' of Shakespeare's sonnets was a notorious London prostitute named Lucy Negro or Black Luce - a dark-skinned madam who ran a licentious house in Clerkenwell."
"Richard may lie to all the other characters but within his solo speeches he always tells the truth."
"So, 'now'--ooh, what a wonderful first word, right in the beginning of the play. 'Now.' Not in the past. Not a history play. Now." Ian McKellen breaks down Richard III. [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.
Page through the entire first quarto of Hamlet, or the second quarto of King Lear, or any one of dozens of other precious rare editions of Shakespeare, courtesy of the British Library. Clicking on a page brings up a bigger view of the page, which is handy for taking a closer look at lines like "To be or not to be, I, there's the point". There's also some brief background on the various editions.
The Death of Hamnet and the Making of Hamlet. In the spring or summer of 1596, William Shakespeare received word that his only son Hamnet, 11, was ill. In the summer he learned that Hamnet's condition had worsened and that it was necessary to drop everything and hurry home. By the time the father reached Stratford the boy—whom, apart from brief visits, Shakespeare had in effect abandoned in his infancy—may already have died. On August 11, 1596, Hamnet was buried at Holy Trinity Church: the clerk duly noted in the burial register, "Hamnet filius William Shakspere." It might have been possible that Shakespeare's Catholic father urged his son to have prayers said to speed the child's release from purgatory. The problem was that purgatory had been abolished by the ruling Protestants, and saying prayers for the dead declared illegal. Hence, the possible dilemma for Shakespeare was whether to risk punishment by praying for their deceased loved ones or obey the law and allow those souls to languish in flames. This anxiety regarding one's obligations to the dead, Stephen Greenblatt suggests, lies behind Hamlet's indecision about whether to obey his father's ghost and take revenge on his uncle Claudius.
The Bard's sexuality comes into question, again, on his birthday. 'The portrait already has considerable intrinsic historical interest, and if you believe that the young man addressed in the sonnets was Henry Wriothesley there is the additional thrill that this could be the face that Shakespeare fell in love with, perhaps wishing its owner was a girl. The magnitude of the thrill depends on how much you think the identity of the young person matters to the poems. Many think it matters a lot.'
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.
Much Ado About Something. Fascinating Salon review of a new documentary investigating whether Shakespeare was really just a front-man for Christopher Marlowe, the true author of all the Bard's work. At first it sounds like just so much literary conspiracy theory, except unlike most conspiracy theories this one seems to gain more credibility the further you delve into it. The film just wrapped up a two- week opening run in New York City, and should be arriving soon at theaters in your area.
INTERIOR SHOT: Stratford-upon-Avon; Study; William at desk
William: takes long toke from hash pipe on desk
To be or not to be...
That is the question...
Shakespeare and the electronic age For those who studied or read Shakespeare some time ago, this quick test can help determine whether you recall the Bard's work or confuse it with the language of technology and more recent forms of entertainment. Not to sound Onan-like, score yourself.