Saturday, April 19, 2014

Theme: Shakespeare

  • Joss Whedon’s recent Much Ado About Nothing embodies the question: can movies made from Shakespeare still find a wide audience? It has been a long trajectory since 1948 when Laurence Olivier's Hamlet got seven nominations and three Academy awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, to the late ‘90s when Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet drew $150 million and Shakespeare in Love brought nearly $300 million to studio coffers. Read more
  • I've always disliked facile talk of the green-world/real-world distinction in Shakespeare. Belmont, the Athenian woods, the Forest of Arden, Bohemia. As though Shakespeare was acknowledging fantasy while gently tutoring us in the reality principle that moralist critics, each a mini-Leavis, valued most.Read more
  • Taking a turn the other day in the Abbey, I was struck with the affected attitude of a figure, which I do not remember to have seen before, and which upon examination proved to be a whole-length of the celebrated Mr. Garrick. Though I would not go so far with some good Catholics abroad as to shut players altogether out of consecrated ground, yet I own I was not a little scandalized at the introduction of theatrical airs and gestures into a place set apart to remind us of the saddest realities.Read more
  • Around 1905 or 1906, Sigmund Freud wrote an essay, unpublished in his lifetime, called “Psychopathic Characters on the Stage.” The essay addressed the question of what we, as spectators, get out of watching people go crazy. Freud’s theory was that we’re fascinated by crazy characters because they help us express our own repressed impulses. Drama, of course, can’t express our fantasies too literally; when that happens, we call it pornography and walk out of the theatre.Read more
  • Great men are more distinguished by range and extent than by originality. If we require the originality which consists in weaving, like a spider, their web from their own bowels; in finding clay, and making bricks, and building the house; no great men are original. Nor does valuable originality consist in unlikeness to other men.Read more
  • On a June day in 1598, at about three o’clock in the afternoon, nearly three thousand patrons file into The Curtain, a London playhouse on the outskirts of the city, along the Shoreditch road. They wait for the actors of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men to take the stage for a hotly anticipated new play by William Shakespeare, the sequel to his enormously popular Henry IV.Read more
  • The poet most likely to practice and evoke ethical imagination is not "poetical," in the sense of flamboyant or opinionated. Thinking of Shakespeare, Keats, who was Shelley's contemporary, claimed that the most powerful versifier "has no identity" at all, for "he is continually ... filling some other body." He inhabits shade as much as light, Iago as much as Imogen.Read more
  • As in Freud’s own time, the “boundary violation” (the discipline’s contemporary euphemism) remains embarrassingly common. Usually the clinician is a man, often professionally distinguished with years of experience, and the patient a younger woman.Read more
  • The persistent employment of excessive violence on the early modern English stage was studied by Renaissance scholarship for centuries in diverse but rather formal or historicist ways, and this critical focus received no new impetus until the corporal turn in critical theory after the 1980s. Read more
  • William Shakespeare’s late tragedy Coriolanus is often seen as one of his most political plays. Set in ancient Rome, and based upon the life of the title character as written by Plutarch, the resonances with Shakespeare’s own time have often been remarked upon, especially in terms of the corn riots and resultant popular uprisings in the English Midlands around the time he wrote the play in 1607. Read more
  • Shakespeare as a writer is the embodiment of human freedom. He seems to have been able to fashion language to say anything he imagined, to conjure up any character, to express any emotion, to explore any idea.Read more
  • My Shakespeare class finally persuaded me to take a class trip to go see the new Roland Emmerich movie, Anonymous. I went forewarned. Multiple reviewers have pointed out problems with the film, which proposes that the Earl of Oxford wrote the literature by William Shakespeare.Read more
  • Verdi adored Shakespeare. Besides the three operas he took from him—Macbeth, Otello, and Falstaff—he considered (though briefly) doing a Tempest or Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet.Read more
  • Surprisingly, queer theorists have rarely encountered Shakespeare. Not because they are badly-read or have blinkers on, but because of a deep belief that Shakespeare existed “before” the days of queer theory.Read more
  • Chris Adrian, reads from his latest novel, The Great Night, a retelling of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" set in San Francisco's Buena Vista Park.Read more
  • It is a time of dreariness and decay. I'm speaking of winter, of course. I always think, when thinking of winter, of the opening lines of Richard III.Read more
  • Minds across the globe will automatically couple Shakespeare and England as they will Coca Cola and the USA. Yet it was with Britain that Shakespeare was first joined by another writer. The prefatory poem to the consecrating, expensive edition of the first folio of 1623 trumpets: “Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show / To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.”Read more
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