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Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Denigrate Your Enemies, Shakespeare Style

February 6, 2014 | by

Lear BAM

Photo: courtesy of BAM

Last night I saw Angus Jackson’s King Lear, now at BAM, with a spry, sturdy Frank Langella in the title role. Langella was astonishing—he does high dudgeon, he does piss and vinegar, he does grief, perplexity, and weariness. His rimy, bellowing voice belies a surprising range, especially in the later acts. Lear dodders around, benighted, mad, machinating and fulminating to no one.

I haven’t read Lear in a while, and I’d forgotten that it has some tremendous insults in it—as befits a play about a graying, cantankerous head of state. I have a thing for archaic insults. They carry all the rancor of their modern-day counterparts, and with the added advantage of unfamiliarity—you called me what? The result is pure, clean-burning rage. It’s not unlike seeing someone mouth off in a country where you don’t speak the language.

Shakespeare, being Shakespeare, really knows how to deliver a good tongue-lashing—the theater has always been an ideal venue to see people go off on one another, and accordingly his plays are zested with putdowns. These are, I think, great fun to try on your friends. (And then, later, once you’ve mastered them, on your enemies.) Read More »

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F. Scott Fitzgerald Reads Shakespeare

September 25, 2013 | by

mediumfscottfitzgerald (famousauthorsDOTorg)

When we posted a recitation of “Ode to a Nightingale,” a reader noted that F. Scott Fitzgerald also made a recording of the Keats poem. That audio is great, but on the occasion of the author’s birthday, we thought we’d share another: Fitzgerald doing Othello’s act 1, scene 3 monologue. Keep in mind that the future writer trod the boards while at Princeton; while he may not recite like a trained Shakespearean, his reading is clear, emotive, and confident. And if you’ve never heard his voice, it’s a pleasure of a whole different kind.

 

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Secret Book Landscapes, and Other News

September 5, 2013 | by

bookpaintingiowa

  • These miniature landscapes, painted on the sides of nineteenth-century books, were recently discovered at the University of Iowa.
  • Jokes (of varying degrees of hilarity) for grammar nerds.
  • Adding to the indignity of Richard III’s parking-lot exhumation, scientists have now discovered that the monarch had worms. “Thy broken faith hath made the prey for worms,” wrote Shakespeare, calling it.
  • Speaking of cross-pond exhumation! “Exhuming Poirot is disrespectful towards Agatha Christie’s careful burial,” argues John Sutherland in the Guardian.
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    Damned Spot

    August 27, 2013 | by

    Macbeth-Alternative-Cover-Paris-Review

    We urge you to check out this gallery of alternative Shakespeare covers

     

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    The King of Queens

    July 11, 2013 | by

    hillsidesigns

    Squatting behind a bookshelf with a stolen cup of coffee, I tilted my head like a dog at a shadow. Ear to shoulder, eyebrow raised, I mouthed the title of a book I’d never seen before.

    K-I-N-G L-E-A-R.

    Huh. Must be some Knights of the Round Table type-a-thing, I figured.

    Typically, when I cut classes, I was stealing away for a smoke, not Shakespeare. At sixteen, I was already a pack-a-day smoker. My brand was Marlboro Menthol, as opposed to Newport, that likely being the subconscious way Queens white girls differentiated themselves from Queens black girls—a thought I had much later in life. But on this day my caffeine addiction must have trumped my nicotine addiction, because I skipped the smoke, took a cup of coffee from the teacher’s lounge, and hid in an empty classroom to drink it.

    Straightaway I pulled the book from the shelf and split it in half, a gesture that tells me now I was not looking to read it, but to perform an autopsy. Maybe there would be pictures, or some chivalric bit of nonsense to help me pass the time. But there on the page was line after line of language as beautiful as it was bizarre, and I was mesmerized. I threw myself back, falling from my feet to my haunches, crossed my legs on the cold linoleum and turned to the beginning. Act 1. Scene 1. I had never read a book on my own. But I kept on, in a fury, cutting one class after the next after the next, until I was done. Read More »

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    The Funnies, Part 5

    May 3, 2013 | by

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