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
posted by matteo
on Oct 1, 2004 -
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.'
posted by skallas
on Apr 24, 2002 -
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.
posted by hincandenza
on Mar 2, 2002 -
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.
posted by Postroad
on Mar 7, 2001 -