Archive for the Shakespeareana Category

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Shakespeare

Posted in Shakespeareana on 2014/04/23 by mattermind

I posted a list before, but since the world never seems to tire of top tens and hundred bests, I figured it might be helpful to pass THIS one along.

It contains lots of ideas that I’ve never heard mentioned before. Have you?

House of Shakespeare

Posted in Celebrations, Shakespeareana on 2014/04/22 by mattermind

Tomorrow is Shakespeare’s birthday and to honor it I will be posting throughout the day.

While wrapping up Henry IV, Part II, I encountered a bit of wicked treachery that reminded me of an article I had recently seen drawing comparisons between Shakespeare and the TV hit, House of Cards.

I don’t watch the show because I’m not, as a rule, attracted to treachery nor art depicting it. For similar reasons, I was unable to stick with Mad Men, another wildly popular and highly touted offering.

The dark side of humanity is not a place I desire to dwell unless to extract a necessary moral lesson. I can bear it in limited quantity, but I prefer to spend my time and what’s left of my senses exploring the virtue, goodness and possibilities rather than to surrender to the negative any more than need be.

I imagine that’s a rather odd confession in an age of anxiety. This is a time for the celebration of anti-heroes and ironic wit, detached critiques and dumbed-down avuncular stooges. It gets harder and harder to wear one’s heart nakedly on one’s sleeve.

But I do protest too much.

Henry IV will wrap tomorrow and I will share news of birthday celebrations from around the world as I find them.

This world was made a better place by Shakespeare’s birth. The day has finally arrived for everyone, everywhere to make hay of the occasion, and to let their appreciation for the Bard be known.


“Enough with the Goddamned Shakespeare Already”

Posted in Performance, Shakespeareana with tags , , on 2014/04/17 by mattermind

Public Radio International

While it’s safe to say that not everyone loves Shakespeare, few would go as far as to suggest that the modern theater is being undermined by too great an appreciation for the Bard.

Yet according to this NPR story, an internet meme has gathered momentum proposing that very thing. A closer examination, however, reveals that any aspersion cast by the opinion has more to say about theater managers than about the indisputably greatest playwright who ever lived.

And to an extent it makes sense; by overrelying on a singular cow to deliver the cream, theater houses are not only dulling audiences with steady doses of the already familiar, they are also neglecting all the other works that rarely get performed as a result.

I suppose the same argument holds in arenas like classical music where Bach, Beethoven & Mozart tend to crowd out all the rest. But is there any other field where one titanic individual dominates his rivals to such an extent as Shakespeare? Should he be throttled back to allow other neglected voices to shine?

It’s an interesting idea to say the least. You can read more and comment on it yourself HERE.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Shakespeare

Posted in Shakespeareana on 2014/04/09 by mattermind

Okay, I didn’t know that Shakespeare’s daughters were illiterate. And I also didn’t know that not one of Shakespeare’s three brothers married or had kids.

You’ll find these and other gems in this fascinating article at the HUNTINGTON POST.

I know, I know. A Huntington Post piece on Shakespeare? (It’s true.)

How many of these nuggets were already rolling around in your noggin?

Will’s Will

Posted in Shakespeareana, Uncategorized on 2014/03/29 by mattermind

Ever since hearing way back in what must have been junior high or high school that Shakespeare left his “second-best bed” to his wife, I (and, admit it, you too) have been curious what else the Bard bequeathed to his family and friends.

To humanity, of course, he left the greatest plays in the English language. But if you’re more fascinated by the everyday/tawdry bits, you can now read his last will and testament online for the first time.

Click HERE to learn more from the Coventry Telegraph.

ENGLAND A Pilgrimage for Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

Posted in Celebrations, Shakespeareana on 2014/03/10 by mattermind

As we get closer to Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, I expect a flurry of articles like THIS from the Miami Herald.

As a passionate traveller, I can’t help but envy those fortunate enough to make the journey for this momentous occasion.

Please let me know if you would like to share personal stories or have links to articles that may interest readers here.

Shakespeare, like all great artists, ultimately transcends a particular time or place. Yet we remain fascinated by origin tales – disputed and otherwise. It inspires us to visit a birthplace, school or gravesite, even in this era of virtual reality.

April 23rd. Mark it on your calendar. Nobody knows with absolute certainty that this is the correct date (or even the right guy). But it’s the best we’ve got. And the party’s going down anyway.

So be there. Well, in spirit at least.

Interactive Map of Shakespeare’s London

Posted in Context, Shakespeareana with tags on 2014/02/23 by mattermind

I’m not sure what the intellectual equivalent of “cool” is, but whatever it happens to be, this is it.

Talk about Shakespeare’s age deals mostly with abstractions, referencing ideas and history that have receded into historical memory. But there’s nothing like a map to make the past come alive again.

While it’s something less than a Thomas Guide (Do these even exist? Kids, ask your parents.) and not quite a Garmin that will take you to the nearest Starbucks ale house, you will find yourself clicking various places to discover what they were all about.

Start HERE

Until holograms become widely available, I suppose this will just have to do.

Two New Portraits of Shakespeare Found?

Posted in News, Shakespeareana on 2014/02/18 by mattermind

We have so few authenticated images of Shakespeare that any report of a new discovery is bound to draw worldwide attention.  Over the last few days I have become aware of not just one, but two of them – one from Shakespeare’s early playwriting career and the other from his days of leisurely retirement.

The First is known as the Wörlitz portrait and features a young man brimming with confidence:

Worlitz Portrait

The second is called the Boaden portrait (featured on the right) and renders a gentleman who has acquired a good measure of comfort and ease:

New Portraits

PHOTO CREDIT: See German link below

There is solid scholarship behind the assertions, coming from Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, a noted professor of English at Mainz University, Germany.  (That is her seen standing between the two portraits.  For a full recap in German, click HERE.)

She has been on the prowl for authentic images of Shakespeare for over 20 years!  For those seeking more information, her WEBSITE offers much to explore in both German and English.

“I subjected the images to fundamental tests of identity and authenticity, and these revealed that we are dealing with true-to-life portraits of Shakespeare, one from his youth, the second from his old age,” Hammerschmidt-Hummel told Discovery News. (For the full story in English, click HERE.)

With such solid scholarship behind the recent announcements, there is a good likelihood that these two new images will stand the test of time, helping round out a pictorial timeline stretching from Shakespeare’s ambitious early days as a young actor and budding London playwright through his latter luxury as an accomplished gentleman in Stratford.

I will update this site as more information becomes available.

10 Curious Facts About Shakespeare

Posted in Shakespeareana on 2014/02/17 by mattermind

Normally these are fairly generic and often throwaway, but the bit about the pipe is news to me and Much Ado About Nothing just took on a whole new meaning.

Great Writers Who for Some Reason Hated Shakespeare

Posted in Shakespeareana with tags , , , on 2014/02/08 by mattermind


Old Tolstoy Found Religion – But No Love for Shakespeare

While I spend the weekend hanging out at the California Antiquarian Book Fair, I thought you might enjoy a sampling of contrarian points of view to my heavy doses of Bardology.

This all began when I discovered tp my amazement that no less than the eminent Leo Tolstoy detested Shakespeare with a white-hot passion. I plan to read an ebook of his essay graciously made available for free by the Guttenberg Project.

Tolstoy on Shakespeare

In the meantime, this sent me on a most bizarre odyssey as I googled one shocking tale after another of famous people who could not stand either Shakespeare or his work. Surely there must be some professional jealousy going on here.

If there is any truth to professor Harold Bloom’s theory in the “agon” of the ages, that great artists inherit an obligation to absorb the accomplishments of their predecessors, this must quite naturally lead to enormous anxiety when you face the daunting challenge of having to follow upon the likes of Homer, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton. Better to draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa than attempt to top it.

That could, in part, explain these:

Voltaire called Shakespeare’s works an “enormous dunghill.”

Tolstoy was equally unimpressed, calling Will’s writing “Crude, immoral, vulgar and senseless.”

George Bernard Shaw really waxed poetic about how much he hated Shakespeare. “There is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare,” he said. “It would be positively a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him.”

I wish I could post this shocking listing from Brianpickings in full. But I offer this smattering of quotes as an appetizer and an invitation to bang the LINK for more.

Have a great weekend, everyone!