Matthew Wills writes for JSTOR Daily on the romcom interpretation of King Lear. Wills brings to attention the fact that for almost two centuries, a version of Shakespeare’s Lear by poet Nahum Tate, one with little tragedy and a happy ending, was almost the only version seen on stage until the mid-19th century....more
Posts Tagged: Shakespeare
Taylor Swift, Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell, Mumford and Sons—they’ve all got a surprising musical forefather in the Bard of Avon. Looking for more literary musical references of the week? Check out the favorite tracks of Man Booker prize-winning author Marlon James over at the BBC....more
Earlier this month, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival commissioned thirty-six playwrights to “translate” Shakespearean plays into modern English. Not everyone is happy about this. However, Sheila T. Cavanagh over at The New Republic argues there is nothing wrong with modernizing Shakespeare....more
When a piece of art inspires you, it literally in-spires, breaths into you. It makes us want to create new art. Or, maybe it’s a more basic instinct. From the beginning of our lives, when we hear a good story, a story that as Winterson says becomes “talismanic” for us, what do we say?
Shakespeare is about the intoxicating richness of the language… It’s like the beer I drink. I drink 8.2 per cent I.P.A., and by changing the language in this modernizing way, it’s basically shifting to Bud Light. Bud Light’s acceptable, but it just doesn’t pack the punch and the excitement and the intoxicating quality of that language.
Over at the Ploughshares blog, Cathe Shubert discusses the historic nature of sexism in the publishing industry, and urges her readers to keep searching for an early canon of women writers:
Despite the many gains we have made in including women in our understanding of the history of literature, many students graduate with the false understanding that women did not really write until the nineteenth century–that they just couldn’t.
Shakespeare may have felt anxiety, but he was no worrier.
More from The Economist on how the word entered our lexicon, in a review of Worrying by Francis O’Gorman. O’Gorman, who traces the word’s rise through literary modernism’s focus on the inner world, believes “being a modern worrier is just… the moth-eaten sign of being human.”...more
At the New York Times, Alice Gregory and Pankaj Mishra discuss the role of moralism in the novel—and conclude that authors should seek to question and provoke rather than preach:
Not only does moral preoccupation corrupt the artfulness of fiction, but fiction is an inefficient and insincere vehicle for moralizing.
“All good love songs are sad,” Paul McCartney, who knew, once told this reporter. The mystery is that while what we want is love fulfilled, what we actually feel most deeply about is love frustrated.
What do Shakespeare’s love sonnets and Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” have in common?...more
As part as the Shakespeare on Tor series, Brian Stavely brings us on a quick tour of King Lear’s descent into madness, as evidenced by a careful metrical reading of five speeches. Following the aging monarch through his perfectly-pentametered Latinate invocations of stately power, all the way down to the chaotic exclamations of a man in shambles, Stavely makes quick work of Lear....more
There’s a lot to get excited about and offended by when reading Shakespeare with a feminist eye. NPR interviewed Tina Packer about her new book Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays, which chronicles how the playwright’s portrayal of women improved over time:
From there after, whether the women are disguised as men or whether they’re in their women’s dresses…he never steps back from their full humanity as human beings.
In 2013 Ross Williams began an ambitious project: film all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets in 154 different New York City locations, and reach “beyond the restrictions of a live performance in a small theater.” Now the project has taken a large step forward, as the group completed their 100th film, which features the Emmy-award winning actress Carrie Preston reciting Sonnet 27 on the Verrazano Bridge....more
(n.); unification; to make into one; the unifying power of imagination; accredited to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
“Austen is far from superficial … Her books are intimate and compelling. She has a voice that somehow seems to chime even with a modern sensibility.
Sensational headlines declaiming the death of the humanities often misunderstand what the humanities actually are. Paul A. Kottman explains that the practice of analyzing texts doesn’t just teach us how to think; it creates new ways of thinking:
Whatever we learn by reflecting on literary texts in our teaching is the direct outcome of those very same activities.
A French public library has discovered that the institution possesses a rare ‘first folio’ of the works of William Shakespeare. There are many first folios, but these earliest anthologies all contain variations in the texts. (The writing we have come to know as the definitive works have actually been pieced together by scholars who’ve researched and compared the various versions of first folios.) For example, the newly discovered folio has changes in Henry IV:
In one scene in “Henry IV,” the word “hostess” is changed to “host” and “wench” to “fellow” — possibly reflecting an early performance where a female character was turned into a male.
Shakespeare is invading China. The first complete Chinese translation of the works of Shakespeare wasn’t released until 1967, but Britain’s number one dramatist is now starting to catch the attention of Chinese audiences, reports Melville House’s Moby Lives, saying Shakespeare is “having a cultural moment.”...more
In the wake of a tweet by Ira Glass that called Shakespeare’s plays unrelatable, Rebecca Mead explores why we care so much about whether we can relate to a play, story or work of art. She admits there’s nothing new about people wanting to see themselves reflected in art, but is still bothered by this recent insistence on relatability:
To appreciate “King Lear”—or even “The Catcher in the Rye” or “The Fault in Our Stars”—only to the extent that the work functions as one’s mirror would make for a hopelessly reductive experience.
In an excerpt from her book The Shelf, Phyllis Rose illustrates the systematic dismissal of women writers through the imagined figure of Prospero’s Daughter: wealthy and educated yet burdened by the demands of a family life whose quotidian challenges, having monopolized her time, become central concerns in her work....more
Amid all the meanings and uses that give a word its weight, it’s easy to forget that language is ultimately a system of arbitrary signs. Lexicographer Paul Dickson’s new book “Authorisms—Words Wrought by Writers” chronicles some of the most dynamic moments in a language’s history: those instances when writers endeavored not just to create with words but to create the words themselves....more