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
Posts Tagged: Shakespeare
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
In honor of the Bard’s 450th birthday, The Millions presents us with an analysis of Women Making Shakespeare, a new anthology from The Arden Shakespeare series edited by Gordon McMullan, Lena Cowen Orlin, and Virginia Mason Vaughan. They have a few questions about the representations of gender found in Shakespeare’s work:
The anthology contains short essays on anything related to women and Shakespeare — as characters, as actresses, as critics and scholars, as educators, as suffragists and feminists, and as readers — over the past 450 years.
In honor of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday a couple days ago, the Paris Review posted some audio clips of him reading passages from Keats and Shakespeare.
“While he may not recite like a trained Shakespearean, his reading is clear, emotive, and confident,” writes Sadie Stein....more
Via 22 Words, here’s a video demonstrating how Shakespeare plays sound when performed in their original pronunciation.
That’s right: the sonorous received pronunciation we associate with Shakespeare didn’t evolve until long after the bard’s death.
This new, old accent sounds strangely Irish (to American ears, anyway) and reveals all kinds of rhymes, jokes, and double-meanings that stay hidden in most modern performances....more
Book blurbs—and the controversies surrounding them—go back as far as Thomas More, who gathered a bouquet of them for Utopia.
Ben Jonson blurbed Shakespeare. Ralph Waldo Emerson blurbed Walt Whitman. But do they really mean anything anymore?
Click through to find out—and read historical blurbs and blurb satires like this one:
Whom do we have to thank for the line “I’ll teach you how to flow”? LL Cool J? Method Man? Actually, it’s Antonio, Prospero’s villainous brother in The Tempest.
HTMLGiant collects this and other Shakespeare quotes that sound like 1990s hip-hop lyrics....more
Richard III, whom Shakespeare portrayed as deformed and murderous, has been dug up not in a cathedral or mausoleum but underneath a parking lot.
The BBC reports that after extensive research and DNA testing, archaeologists are sure “beyond reasonable doubt” that the remains belong to the fifteenth-century king....more
As the amount of digital data in the world balloons, so do the costs of storing that data.
Some scientists are experimenting with ways to save data on a “device” much older—but also much more efficient—than hard drives: DNA itself.
The first thing they encoded on a double helix of nucleotides?...more
Located, according to its profile, in Stratford-upon-Internet, Twitter account @pentametron finds random users’ everyday tweets that happen to be in iambic pentameter and retweets them as rhyming couplets.
It’s unclear whether the account is a bot or a human with computer assistance or what, but the results are golden....more
If you’ve ever felt like reading good literature gives you more comfort and insight than any self-help book ever could, you’re probably onto something.
Scientists at the University of Liverpool recently conducted a study indicating that the brain “lights up” bigger and brighter when grappling with Shakespeare and Wordsworth than when taking in ordinary prose....more
Happy Sunday! I’m in upstate New York at my sister’s college graduation. She’s really smart, like Phi Beta Kappa smart. However, she’s insisting that I play drinking games with her, which I haven’t done for like ten years, so posts might be light today....more
Here’s some interesting reading from the world of poetry this week.
This is a little dated by internet standards, but it’s still worth looking at: Calvin Trillin versifies about the Roman Polanski apologists....more