I’ve said before, I think, how utterly fascinated I am with the way each era, since the late 17th Century, has tried to mould a Shakespeare of its own. Rewriting his works to make them merrier, or more classical, or less earthy, but also refashioning again and again what (comparatively) little we know of him into one or other ideal portrait – from John Aubrey’s merry poacher to W.H. Ireland’s perfect gentleman… Continue reading
Not that it’s a real cloak, either – just a large square of thick, dark red fabric. In Shakespeare in Words it does double duty: it is the cloak – the one we all know, the one Caesar first put on one summer evening in his tent – and also stands for the body. And it’s perfectly sized, and doesn’t reflect light, and always falls in good-looking folds… And it is missing. Continue reading
No, really: the average fictional Shakespeare spends half his life jotting down, more or less metaphorically, everything he hears… Continue reading
Some more Julius Caesar, do you mind?
The fact is that, because of Shakespeare in Words, I had a special thrill when, in Act 3.I, the conspirators bathe their hands in dead Caesar’s blood – half barbaric ritual, half preparation to face the angry and upset crowds outside. Very much like actors before a play, they plan to appear with bloody hands and swords, shouting “Peace, freedom, and liberty.” Continue reading
I re-watched Mankiewicz’s 1953 Julius Caesar, last night – the one with James Mason, Marlon Brando and John Gielgud – all the more happily because I’d been very much afraid that Shakespeare would disappear from Italian television after the end of 2016.
Of course it’s early days – but let us hope. Meanwhile, I I was once more struck by how much the play is centred on Brutus, for all that it is titled for The Life and Death of Julius Caesar… Well, certainly Caesar’s death is the centrepiece, and in life and death he deeply affects all the other characters well after he is stabbed in Act 3. Still, Brutus, his doubts and his resolutions are often centre-stage, and I can’t help wondering. Continue reading
In a world like Elizabethan England*, where a fair complexion was synonymous with beauty (it was not by accident that “fair” meant both “lovely” and “light-complexioned), here goes the lovestruck Biron, extolling his beloved Rosaline’s dark looks: Continue reading
So, the New Oxford Shakespeare credits Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays.
Well, actually fourteen more plays get co-authoring credits by someone else, and Arden of Faversham is added to the Canon, as well as one added scene in Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy… But – probably because he is more widely known, and because of the Authorship rumours ever since Ziegler – the idea of Kit Marlowe having had a hand in the Henrys is doing most of the splash.
Interesting week, this… Which is why I haven’t posted on Thursday, by the way. Things have happened – mostly good, but time-consuming, and I never know when all the time goes.
One of the things, though, is this: we have found a home for Il Palcoscenico di Carta. At long last. One wouldn’t believe how difficult it was, but really, we’ve tried all sort of places: from cafés to small museums, from bookshops to military clubs – with everything in between… some were so blatantly unenthusiastic that we walked away, some loved the idea but had no room, some were willing but not right now, some asked an extortionate fee… Continue reading
Oh yes, there is another one. Same title, but a very different book. Antonia Forest was a children’s writer – and, although this is one of those children’s book that are a pleasure to an adult reader, it’s definitely lighter fare than Bryher’s novel.
The story itself is of the Runaway Boy sort: at eleven, Nicholas Marlow lives with his much older, wealthy and indulgent brother, and studies at the local grammar school… Continue reading