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Hidden Meanings : Datamining Early English Print

Datamining Shakespeare --- 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, histories or tragedies? — are connected to frequent, widely distributed features in the playwright's syntax, vocabulary, and diction. (approx. 30 minute lecture.) [more inside]
posted by crunchland on Dec 8, 2011 - 29 comments

The forgotten gentleman lawer turned privateer who founded Jamestown

In 1602, he became the first Englishman to sail directly to New England across the ill-charted waters of the North Atlantic (Google books; alt: Archive.org). He is credited with setting up a fort on Cuttyhunk Island, and naming both Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod in that voyage. A few months later, he then returned to England, where he planned the first English settlement to take hold in the new world. He returned in 1607, but only survived 13 weeks in Jamestown (Gb). Who was this founding father of the first English colony take hold in North America? Bartholomew Gosnold. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 7, 2011 - 12 comments

Peter Greenaway's "Prospero's Books"

Peter Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" (NSFW) is not a movie in the sense that we usually employ the word. It's an experiment in form and content. ... The books, their typography, calligraphy and illustrations, are photographed in voluptuous detail. ... "Prospero's Books" really exists outside criticism. ... It is simply a work of original art, which Greenaway asks us to accept or reject on his own terms. - Roger Ebert
posted by Trurl on Dec 4, 2011 - 32 comments

With four and twenty black-and-white birds, here's the history of the pie

NPR's food blog gets wordy: for the origins of "pie," look to the humble magpie. Though the etymology of pie doesn't present one clear path, the possibilities are fascinating. English surnames point to pie and pye as a baked good in the 1300s, with a Peter Piebakere in 1320 and Adam le Piemakere in 1332. Chaucer referred to "pye" as both a baked good and a magpie (Google books). Or perhaps the fillings were like a magpie's collection of bits and bobs, similar to haggis. You know, like the French "agace," or magpie (Gb), and similar to chewets, those baked goods, or another name for jackdaws (Gb), relative of the magpie. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 22, 2011 - 21 comments

Before you ask, no, it's not eponysterical.

Shakespeare was not a full-time writer without other responsibilities, like O’Neill or Williams. But what might look like a distraction for such authors—acting in his own and other people’s plays, coaching fellow players, helping manage the ownership of the troupe’s resources (including its two theaters, the Globe and Blackfriars)—was a strength for Shakespeare, since it made him a day-by-day observer of what the troupe could accomplish, actor by actor. [...]

'According to Pacini,' Julian Budden writes in The Operas of Verdi, 'it was the custom at the San Carlo theatre, Naples, for the composer to turn the pages for the leading cello and double bass players on opening nights.' The composer had to change his score to fit new voices if there were substitutions caused by illness or some other accident. In subsequent performances, he was expected to take out or put in arias for the different houses, transposing keys, changing orchestration. He was not a man of the study but of the theater.
Shakespeare and Verdi in the Theater.
posted by shakespeherian on Nov 18, 2011 - 48 comments

Hey Nonny Nonny

"Bellwether Pictures is proud to announce (PDF) the completion of principal photography: Much Ado About Nothing. A film by Joss Whedon, based on a play." Announced by near simultaneous tweets from various members of the cast and crew, it seems Whedon used his 2-week vacation from some other small film to shoot an adaptation of the Bard's play at his house. One of the more amazing details is how this was all kept under wraps, and pretty much all mainstream coverage is based on fan sites and Twitter. Based on the press release, the movie will be hitting festival circuits next year, which means 2012 will have 3 Whedon releases: this, The Avengers, and The Cabin in the Woods. [more inside]
posted by kmz on Oct 24, 2011 - 42 comments

Shakespeare in Code

The forthcoming film Anonymous, which posits the Earl of Oxford as the true author of Shakespeare's plays, has scholars bemoaning the immense effort wasted over the years (NYT) pursuing bogus theories of Shakespearean authorship. On the other hand, one of the 20th century's greatest cryptographers got his start searching for secret messages from Francis Bacon in Shakespeare's plays.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Oct 24, 2011 - 122 comments

The Top 10 Books Lost to Time

Smithsonian.com lists the top 10 books lost to time.
posted by reenum on Sep 27, 2011 - 67 comments

Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you...

Original Pronunciation (OP) "...performance brings us as close as possible to how old texts would have sounded. It enables us to hear effects lost when old texts are read in a modern way. It avoids the modern social connotations that arise when we hear old texts read in a present-day accent." The site includes transcripts of Shakespeare plays and other writings with IPA notations, indicating how to pronounce them in OP. It also includes some audio recordings. [more inside]
posted by grumblebee on Sep 11, 2011 - 38 comments

"I don't have time for Laertes. He must know I didn't mean to kill his father," Hamlet said.

Orson Scott Card adapts Hamlet into poorly written anti-gay screed. Welcome to Hamlet's Father. Gone are Shakespeare's language and philosophy, replaced with Card's trademark homophobia. Spoiler alert: Old King Hamlet was gay, and he molested everybody and turned them gay too!
posted by Faint of Butt on Sep 8, 2011 - 367 comments

Would Hamlet be better if it had a happy ending?

This past July marked the 253rd birthday of Thomas Bowdler, English physician and source of the eponym bowdlerise (or bowdlerize), through his family-friendly editing of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (prev), which was written originally by English historian Edward Gibbon. Though Thomas' name is on the later editions of The Family Shakespeare, it was his sister, Henrietta Maria Bowdler (commonly called Harriet), who actually excised the texts and removed about 10% of the original text that which she felt "cannot with propriety be read aloud in family." Some sample comparisons of the edits can be seen here. With that, Henrietta (and Thomas) earned a place in the ranks of Shakespeare editors (prev-ish). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 8, 2011 - 21 comments

Ensemble Monologue

Actor Jim Meskimen reads Clarence's monologue, slightly adapted, from Shakespeare's Richard III [text] in 25 celebrity impressions. Bonus points for using Ron Howard's voice for the line "Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days," and Barack Obama's for "Such terrible impression made the dream." (via @craigyferg) [more inside]
posted by maryr on Jul 21, 2011 - 28 comments

Achilles’ bane full wrath resound, O Goddesse, that imposd

A book recommendation by Mr. O'Brian (previously); the Chapman translation of the Iliad. The same book that guided William Shakespear in writing Troilus and Cressida. [more inside]
posted by Binliner on Jul 12, 2011 - 22 comments

Born and Bred in a... snap bean farm

The Wren's Nest, so named for the birds that took up residence in the mailbox, is the former home of author Joel Chandler Harris, the man behind the Uncle Remus tales. Located on the west side of Atlanta, the house--now a museum--was neglected, in disrepair and in debt until 2006, when Harris' great-great-great-grandson Lain Shakespeare took over as executive director. [more inside]
posted by Maaik on Jul 7, 2011 - 19 comments

Why, fool, you shall never wake till Judgement-Day!

Terminator the Second is a project to stage Terminator 2: Judgement Day using only lines from Shakespeare (with some proper nouns and pronouns changed). A sample page from the script. A second page. A bit of background on Husky Jackal Theater. [more inside]
posted by shakespeherian on Jun 8, 2011 - 52 comments

taH pagh taHbe

David Warner, on being Hamlet at the age of 23 in 1966, has played at least three different species in the Star Trek universe. Notably, as Chancellor Gorkon in Strek Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. But another Shakespearean actor, playing General Chang, was more apparent in that movie. Of course there is far more Shakespeare in the Star Trek Universe.
posted by Binliner on May 15, 2011 - 27 comments

The Man Who Broke Purple

How To Make Anything Signify Anything "By the time he retired from the National Security Agency in 1955, Friedman had served for more than thirty years as his government’s chief cryptographer, and—as leader of the team that broke the Japanese PURPLE code in World War II, co-inventor of the US Army’s best cipher machine, author of the papers that gave the field its mathematical foundations, and coiner of the very term cryptanalysis—he had arguably become the most important code-breaker in modern history."
posted by puny human on Feb 4, 2011 - 10 comments

Entrevista Con La Bailarina

The Dancer and the Terrorist. When Peru’s most wanted man, Abimael Guzmán Reynoso, was captured in 1992, a young ballerina, Maritza Garrido Lecca, went to jail too, for harbouring him at her studio. The story was turned into a novel and film, “The Dancer Upstairs” (trailer). This year, the author of the novel, Nicholas Shakespeare, flew to Lima to meet the dancer at last — and to ask her whether she was guilty.
posted by zarq on Jan 20, 2011 - 13 comments

Playing card art

♡♢♣ Different kinds of playing card art. [more inside]
posted by zamboni on Jan 11, 2011 - 20 comments

Happy Few

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.


Merlin Mann invites you to memorize, perform, and record the Happy Few speech from Henry V before St. Crispin's Day, October 25.
posted by swift on Oct 11, 2010 - 63 comments

That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once

"I HEREBY REQUEST that my body or any part thereof may be used for therapeutic purposes including corneal grafting and organ transplantation or for the purposes of medical education [...] with the exception of my skull, which shall be offered by the institution receiving my body to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in theatrical performance." [more inside]
posted by oulipian on Sep 11, 2010 - 17 comments

So please you, something touching the Timelord Hamlet. Captain Picard.

The Royal Shakespeare Company presents Hamlet, starring David Tennant as Hamlet, Sir Patrick Stewart as Claudius and the Ghost, Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius, Mariah Gale as Ophelia, and Edward Bennet as Laertes. Directed by Gregory Doran. [more inside]
posted by Ndwright on Aug 13, 2010 - 102 comments

Shakespearean Makeover

Juliet, Ophelia, Desdemona: All three met an untimely fate. This could have been avoided if they had a sassy gay friend. [MYTL] [more inside]
posted by JustKeepSwimming on Apr 29, 2010 - 34 comments

Frinds, Roomuns, coontrimun, lend me yurr eerrs.

Oy coom too berry Sayzurr, nut too preyze im. That's a reconstruction of how Brutus's famous speech from "Julius Caesar" may have sounded to Shakespeare's original audience. (Scroll down in the linked page for the rest of the speech -- or look inside this post.) If you'd like to learn more about Original Pronunciation (OP), check out www.pronouncingshakespeare.com, where you'll find several recordings by David Crystal, the scholar who probably knows most about the subject. You can also listen to this example or this NPR broadcast, first linked to in this 2005 post, here. Ben Crystal, David's son, tries some OP here. [more inside]
posted by grumblebee on Jan 28, 2010 - 34 comments

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski

The Big Lebowski as written by Shakespeare.
posted by Eideteker on Jan 7, 2010 - 105 comments

That is the question... yeah!

Actor Brian Cox gives an acting masterclass on Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy to a young student (SLYT)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 11, 2009 - 23 comments

Alleyn and company

The papers of Edward Alleyn, the Elizabethan actor-manager, are now available online in a digital edition. Most of what we know about the London theatre in the age of Shakespeare comes from this archive; highlights include the only surviving example of a 'part' or script written out for an actor in an Elizabethan play (image) and the contract for building the Fortune playhouse in 1600, just a year after the building of the Globe. Sadly, the archive doesn't include any manuscripts relating to Shakespeare, because Alleyn worked for the Admiral's Men, one of the two main theatre companies in London, whereas Shakespeare worked for the competition (the Lord Chamberlain's Men), though that didn't stop the nineteenth-century forger John Payne Collier from faking a few documents of his own to fill the gap.
posted by verstegan on Dec 11, 2009 - 6 comments

If rhythm be the food of love, play on

The ASL Shakespeare Project brings us Twelfth Night, fully translated into American Sign Language (ASL) [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam on Nov 5, 2009 - 17 comments

"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]
posted by kirkaracha on Nov 5, 2009 - 46 comments

Shakespeare in music

Amazing to see how differently Shakespeare's work has been dealt with in music: there is Jerry Lee Lewis doing a blues on Othello. 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!).
posted by Matthias Rascher on Sep 22, 2009 - 37 comments

We are such stuff: As dreams are made on

"Theatre," says Professor Lorraine Moller, Artistic Director of Rehabilitation Through the Arts at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, in her foreword to Laurence Tocci's The Proscenium Cage [pdf], "may well be one of the few antidotes to the de-humanizing climate of prisons." The use of theater in prisons has many forms: from projects designed to let prisoners tell their own stories as shown in the Austrian film "Gangster Girls" (trailer in German), to the elaborate, high-concept costume dramas of Italy's Compagnia della Fortezza. Some base their work on Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed, others on Moreno's Psychodrama, but many programs use a more direct approach: put on classic plays, and let the play do the illuminating. That's the approach of Shakespeare Behind Bars, the troupe at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky. Watch the entirety of Shakespeare Behind Bars, a compelling 2005 documentary that follows the troupe for a season as they produce a production of The Tempest. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Aug 4, 2009 - 8 comments

There was good sport in its making

The Royal Shakespeare Company presents King Lear, starring Ian McKellen, directed by Trevor Nunn, adapted for broadcast and available in its entirety online. [more inside]
posted by Ndwright on Jun 5, 2009 - 36 comments

Shakespeare's Sonnets Turn 400

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."
posted by Joe Beese on May 20, 2009 - 37 comments

a semi-staged production of Shakespere's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Mendelsohn's incidental music

Last night, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a semi-staged production of Shakespere's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Mendelsohn's incidental music. Now they've put a video of the performance up on their website. [more inside]
posted by feelinglistless on May 11, 2009 - 17 comments

Iambic Petameter

Look at this lovely hamster.
posted by william_boot on Apr 26, 2009 - 38 comments

in the street of the sky night walks scattering poems

Should you find yourself wandering around the city of Leiden, the Netherlands sometime, you may notice some curious markings on the city's walls.

These Muurgedichten ("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]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Apr 5, 2009 - 15 comments

To Sleep Perchance to Dream

To Sleep Perchance to Dream : an exhibition of 17th century sleep-related paraphernalia at the Folger Shakespeare Library offers insight into attitudes towards sleep and dreams. Insomnia? Try eating some lettuce.
posted by grapefruitmoon on Mar 29, 2009 - 2 comments

Ending up in a kind of soundlessly spinning ethereal void as we all must.

The day will come when the words of Shakespeare are no longer known. Roger Ebert looks back on a long career and waxes philosophical.
posted by The Card Cheat on Feb 10, 2009 - 60 comments

Cocktayle Napkinf

A retro set of cocktail napkins showing Eisenhower-era damsels and drunkards, with captions by The Bard. via
posted by Rumple on Dec 29, 2008 - 19 comments

Porn adaptations

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Now With Hot Girl-on-Girl Action. [NSFW!] [more inside]
posted by sveskemus on Sep 1, 2008 - 26 comments

Twas mine, tis his, and has been slave to thousands

How did this man end of with a copy of the most iconic book in the English language? He says he got it from a friend in Cuba, but the Folger Library has identified it as the copy of Shakespeare's First Folio stolen from Durham University in 1988. Turns out that stealing the book is much easier than selling it.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jul 20, 2008 - 17 comments

Shakespeare's Sonnets

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.
posted by Kattullus on May 24, 2008 - 8 comments

Not where he eats, but where he is eaten

Coming soon, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead, probably the first movie to combine Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard, and vampires. It is, however, not the first time The Bard and the undead have been seen together. [more inside]
posted by cerebus19 on May 7, 2008 - 86 comments

Shakespeare and philosophy

Martha Nussbaum reviews three recent books on Shakespeare and philosophy. The essay offers an excellent analysis of love in Antony and Cleopatra and Othello, and an excellent discussion of the interaction between philosophy and literature. [more inside]
posted by painquale on May 5, 2008 - 17 comments

Pulp Shakespeare

from ACT I SCENE 4

J: Your pardon; did I break thy concentration?
Continue! Ah, but now thy tongue is still.
Allow me then to offer a response.
Describe Marsellus Wallace to me, pray. [more inside]
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas on Apr 20, 2008 - 170 comments

The Case for the First Folio

The Case for the First Folio For centuries, editors of Shakespeare's plays have conflated different published editions (quartos and folios) in an attempt to create one true text as the writer intended. In this essay (.pdf file) Jonathan Bate, one of the editors of The RSC Shakespeare makes the case that in fact what they're doing is editing together different drafts of the play originated by the bard at different times in his life attempting to make better dramatic sense. Essentially that none of the texts you studied at school are what Shakespeare intended to be performed at all. [more inside]
posted by feelinglistless on Jan 25, 2008 - 29 comments

Is this a +2 dagger I see before me?

Arden: The World of William Shakespeare is a Neverwinter Nights mod created by the Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University. You can play it, but it's kinda boring.
posted by BitterOldPunk on Dec 1, 2007 - 9 comments

Much Ado About Shakespeare

BBC/HBO to film all 37 of Shakespeare's plays Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes will produce the entire canon over 12 years.
posted by crossoverman on Nov 19, 2007 - 52 comments

Symmetry. Shakespeare. Islamic medicine. Creative writing challenges.

Symmetry. Shakespeare. Islamic medicine. Creative writing challenges. Four podcast series from University of Warwick.
posted by Wolfdog on Nov 18, 2007 - 2 comments

Aphorisms - James Geary Books

Aphorisms: "A minimum of sound to a maximum of sense." [ram] Journalist, gnomologist and author James Geary has just released Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists [Amazon. recent NPR interview here]. It draws from such aphorists as Shakespeare, Voltaire, Emerson, Shaw, Mae West, Woody Allen and Steven Wright. Also discussed is chiasmus, the Jefferson Bible and some meta. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in your reading have been like the blast of triumph..." [more inside]
posted by McLir on Oct 2, 2007 - 16 comments

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