Category Archives: Shakespeare & his world

a darker As You Like It

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0CELIA: I’ll put myself in poor and mean attire, And with a kind of umber smirch my face; The like do you; so shall we pass along, And never stir assailants. ROSALIND: Were it not better, Because … Continue reading

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the politics of negative capability

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0Zadie Smith’s article “Speaking in Tongues” (The New York Review, Feb 26) combines several of the fixations of this blog–literature as an alternative to moral philosophy, deliberation, Shakespeare, and Barack Obama–and makes me think that my own … Continue reading

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people who flop at Oxford

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0Reading Ingrid Rowland’s very enjoyable and insightful biography of Giordano Bruno, a parallel occurred to me: In 1583, in mortal danger from the Inquisition, a European exile comes to Oxford University in search of a professorship. He … Continue reading

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The Winter’s Tale

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0Reading The Winter’s Tale this week reinforced my sense that Shakespeare, in his last years as a playwright, was worried about the power of a dramatist to influence people’s passions and make them believe falsehoods. In both … Continue reading

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Gonzalo’s commonwealth

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0Gonzalo is the most virtuous character in Shakespeare’s Tempest, a man “whose honor cannot / Be measured or confined” (v,1,135-6). He arrives on Prospero’s island in the company of vile politicians who have organized a coup and … Continue reading

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a true story, a propos of nothing

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0It is 1617. Edward Coke, until recently the Lord Chief Justice of England and before that the implacable prosecutor of Guy Fawkes, Sir Walter Ralegh, and the Earl of Essex, has been fired by King James for … Continue reading

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a production of Lear

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0(Chicago) Last night, I saw King Lear at the Goodman Theater. Stacy Keach was the King, and the director was Robert Falls. It was a “strong” production, in the sense that the director’s choices were bold and … Continue reading

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when chivalry died

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0I just finished James Shapiro’s very enjoyable book entitled A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599, which is about the year when Henry the Fifth, Julius Ceasar, As You Like it, and Hamlet were written. … Continue reading

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Shakespeare in retirement

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0I recently finished Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World, a chronological series of essays about Shakespeare’s life and its influence on his work. It leaves me thinking about the reasons for Shakespeare’s early retirement around 1611. That … Continue reading

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“every subject’s soul is his own”

Facebook0 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 0(Continuing Friday’s theme. …) There is no doubt, after Nuremberg, that soldiers must question the justification of their side’s conduct during a conflict–and disobey any immoral orders. But should they worry about the purposes and legitimacy of … Continue reading

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