My Year Of Shakespeare Shakepeare

My personal journey into the world of William Shakespeare

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I have always been aware that there was this dude named Shakespeare and that he influenced, well, everything. It seemed like a good time to read up on him and read what he wrote.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Me thinks thou hast fallen of the face of the earth

OK, I intended this to be My Year Of Shakespeare and it turned out to be My Year Of MS and My Year Of Changing Jobs. I'm still The Bookman but I'm currently working at Michaels. Go figure. To all of you who end up here once and a while, thanks for stopping by and come back sometime. I'll try to post something Shakepearean soon.
I'm going to read Hamlet.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Venus and Adonis (pt 2)

It is proven. A cold shower doesn't work at all. I'm still all fired up about this particular poem.
But when, at last
She takes him by the hand, and that is cold;
She whispers in his ears a heavy tale,
As if they heard the woeful words she told;
She lifts the coffer-lids that close his eyes,
Where, lo, two lamps, burnt out, in darkness

I am also cold. The bitter death of Adonis, hard fighting hunter that he was, leaves me shuddering in sorrow.
Maybe Venus, in her pure, lust driven enchantment, loved Adonis, not as a woman, but a naive, little girl.
She loved him truly, but did not seem able to comprehend the death of the one she loved.
Her incredible goddessly powers, were no match for the simple, raw force of nature (ok, a boar, but a natural one).

Sorry for the long delay in posting.
Thanks for listening.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Venus and Adonis (part1)

It is fitting that I am starting out with this work. I learned two things about Shakespeare right away.
1. Venus and Adonis was probably written during a terrible outbreak of plague when London's theatres were closed as a precaution against infection. Shakespeare had already begun to make his mark as a playwright but this is his first work in print.
2. This isn't a play at all, it is a poem. Shakespeare didn't just write plays, he also wrote poems. OK, I knew of the Sonnets, but those are sonnets, this is a full poem. I guess I am in for more than I bargained for.
Venus and Adonis is an early example of the erotic poems that were fashionable at the time in London. This is one hot, steamy example to be sure. No wonder that it is his most frequently reprinted work.
Not being familiar with the tale of Venus and Adonis, or the telling in book 10 of Ovid's Metamorphosis, I quickly discovered that Adonis, pretty boy that he was, inadvertantly, yet completely enraptured poor innocent Venus. Or so it seems. Wait, isn't Venus the Goddess of Love? Yeah that seems familiar. Not so innocent after all. After begging, pleading, kissing, cajoling, kissing some more, she is very frustrated with his less than excited responses. Venus tells him,"

'I have been wooed as I entreat thee now
Even by the stern and direful god of war,
Whose sinewy neck in battle ne'er did bow,
Who conquers where he comes in every jar.
Yet hath he been my captive and my slave,
And begged for that which thou unasked shall have.

And then she says"

Thou wast begot; to get is thy duty.

Poor Adonis, I think you have bit off more than you can chew here."

Fondling,' she saith, 'since I have hemmed thee here
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
I'll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer.
Feed where thou wilt, on mountains or in dale;
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.

Whoa! I need a cold shower before I continue.....

Sunday, January 01, 2006

In good troth, it begins so.

Well now, another January 1st has arrived. I'm not much on the whole calendar thing, but it does get me to work on the right day. Sundays, ok, that is spagetti night, so maybe the calendar is ok. I digress.
I have selected the order in which I will change my entire life around. Drum roll please....Tah Dah...I'm starting with the Greek plays (more to follow on why) and the first play is Venus and Adonis. Depending on how long it takes me to learn a new language, Shakespearean English, I'll probably post about my new life soon. And a very special thank you to Sandra at Book World for leaving the road clear for me to make a complete and utter fool of myself in public. The pressure is on.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Et Tu Brute?

Shakespeare had a major effect in colorizing our language. He introduced, or recorded in print for the first time, many words and phrases that he used for the first time or had only been spoken previously.
Here is a short list that I found here.
I'll add more to the sidebar eventually.


A fool's paradise.
A foregone conclusion.
An eye-sore.
Bated breath.
Budge an inch.
Dead as a doornail.
I have not slept a wink.
For goodness sake.
Love is blind.
Wild goose chase.
To thine own self be true.
My own flesh and blood.

Clodpole - dunce
dewlap - loose skin at the throat
bawcock - fine fellow
absey book - ABC book
flirt-gill - loose woman
hugger-mugger - secrecy
onion-eyed - weepy

Feel free to add your own via comments.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mergers and Aquisitions

Now here's an interesting bit...Isaac Asimov published close to 500 books in his life. That would mean he averaged 7 books a year or so, and would have published 7 books by the time he was 1 year old. OK, maybe he started a little later and that makes the averages even higher! I just acquired Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare and I find that his grouping of Shakespeare's plays into Greek, Roman, Italian, and English is much to my liking. My wife has already suggested that I read the Kings all in order so this will fit nicely with that suggestion. I'm still slightly undecided, but leaning in that direction. First I must finish that pesky 1599 and at least start Shakespeare, The Biography by Peter Ackroyd having aquired this one along with Asimov. Along with the 2 or 3 complete collections of plays that I have, I'm just about set to merge the plays into a coherent (for me)order and begin this madness, gentle madness.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

New Chronology Of Shakespeare Plays Discovered!!!

Now wouldn't that be nice? Seriously, I am trying to find the best order to read the complete works. I have my suspicions that it won't be easy since the First Folio wasn't published until 1623, many years after Shakespeare's death. And, get this, the idiots (or actors if you will) John Heminges and Henry Condell who actually put the folio together, actually acted in the plays and so should have known better, grouped them into the currently accepted comedies, tragedies, and histories. Not, I might add, the correct chronological order that they were written and performed in. Here's the rub, I'm asking you for some suggestions on the order to read the plays in. I am leaning towards the accepted (by me) chronological order that I found here. But, if I choose one that gets suggested here, in the comments, I will award the nice commenter/suggester with a copy of A Year In The Life Of William Shakespeare 1599, the very same edition that started me on my venture. Now I am off to finish the book so I can start on more prereading.