The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1993 Monday, 22 November 2004
Date: Sunday, 21 Nov 2004 15:07:55 -0500
Subject: Shakespeare in Love the Book (by Greenblatt)
He's got Will power
The literati are abuzz over Stephen Greenblatt's take on Shakespeare.
By Irene Lacher
Special to The Times
Nov 21 2004
You've seen the movie. Now read the book.
First, the movie: "Shakespeare in Love" was still an idea buzzing around
screenwriter Marc Norman's head when he sought out a preeminent
Elizabethan literary scholar to help him flesh out the man behind the
plays. Norman called universities around the country for names of "the
major dudes in Shakespeare studies, and everyone kept mentioning Stephen
Greenblatt," Norman says.
Greenblatt's gig as editor of "The Norton Shakespeare" certainly
qualified him as a major dude in the field. But what had made his
reputation was his role as a founding father of "new historicism" - an
approach to literary criticism that looks at art in its historical
context. He was teaching at UC Berkeley at the time, so Norman flew up
to see him and bat around ideas about the bard. The meeting went so well
that the screenwriter continued to visit Greenblatt periodically as he
shaped the Oscar-winning screenplay he and Tom Stoppard wrote about
Shakespeare's hardscrabble early years in the theater.
"Not only was he not huffy about some Hollywood guy poaching on his
turf, he was playful and imaginative," Norman says. "It was a fruitful
experience for me."
And an eye-opener for Greenblatt as well. The professor, now at Harvard,
may have guided Norman through the thickets of Renaissance England, but
the screenwriter introduced Greenblatt to new territory too - an escape
hatch from the ivory tower. The experience prompted the academic to
write his first book aimed at a general audience, "Will in the World:
How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare."
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