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Talking with Biographer Stephen Grant about the Founders of the Folger Shakespeare Library

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.183  Wednesday, 10 April 2014

 

From:        John F Andrews < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 8, 2014 at 3:58:41 PM EDT

Subject:    Talking with Biographer Stephen Grant about the Founders of the Folger Shakespeare Library

 

Stephen H. Grant’s Collecting Shakespeare

 

Sunday, April 13, at 4:00 p.m.

921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE

Near DC’s Eastern Market

Free and Open to the Public

 

Many people are astonished to learn that the world’s largest repository of early Shakespeare editions is to be found, not in London or Stratford, but two blocks from the United States Capitol in Washington. How this came to be is the subject of a fascinating new book by Stephen H. Grant, who tells the story of Henry Clay Folger and his wife Emily Jordan Folger, who married in 1885 and devoted the rest of their lives to Collecting Shakespeare.

 

Henry was a close associate of John D. Rockefeller, and he eventually rose to the helm of the Standard Oil Company of New York. But the passion that most deeply obsessed a quiet, unassuming Brooklyn couple was not to become public until April 23, 1932, when President Hoover presided over a Capitol Hill ceremony at which the Folger Shakespeare Library was presented to the American people.

 

Copies of Mr. Grant’s long-anticipated biography of the Folgers will be on hand for purchase and inscription, and he’ll be available to sign them both before and after his conversation with John F. Andrews, who spent a decade (1974-84) as Director of Academic Programs at the Library.

 

Seating is limited, so attendees are encouraged to arrive early. For details about the venue, see www.HillCenterDC.org or call 202-549-4172.

__________________

For more information about this and related Shakespeare Guild offerings, including Speaking of Shakespeare programs in Manhattan with Stephen H. Grant, with Yale scholar David Kastan, and with lexicographer Paul Dickson, in mid-May, see www.shakesguild.org/May2014.pdf, visit www.shakesguild.org, or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
 
The Sonnets

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.182  Tuesday, 8 April 2014

 

[1] From:        Susan Rojas < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 7, 2014 at 5:24:40 PM EDT

     Subject:    Sonnets 

 

[2] From:        Dom Saliani < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 7, 2014 at 6:25:11 PM EDT

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Sonnets 

 

[3] From:        Peter Groves < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 7, 2014 at 9:17:29 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Sonnets 

 

[4] From:        Ian Steere < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 8, 2014 at 9:07:39 AM EDT

     Subject:    The Sonnets 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Susan Rojas < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 7, 2014 at 5:24:40 PM EDT

Subject:    Sonnets

 

Gregory Woodruff’s take on reading the sonnets is an interesting one, and does make sense . . . John Donne came to mind immediately.  His Holy Sonnets sound anything but holy at times, and his love poetry often has a layer of the sacred.  Why shouldn’t this apply to Shakespeare’s sonnets as well?

 

Susan Rojas

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Dom Saliani < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 7, 2014 at 6:25:11 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Sonnets

 

Bravo to Ira Zinman for helping to put things into a bit of perspective:

 

>We are reminded that these 4 levels of interpretation

>as expressed by Dante [although these were known 

>earlier] are as follows:

>

>  1. Literal or Plain meaning; 2. Allegorical; 3. Moral; 

>and 4. Anagogical or esoteric.

 

Far too often commentators focus too narrowly on one of the above levels and consequently fail to acknowledge that other levels may apply just as well if not better.

 

I also whole heartedly agree with Ira Zinman that:

“The complexity of Shakespeare allows for a multitude of perspectives . . . and who is it that may rightfully claim his or her position or argument is correct? As the author has not favored us with a full explanation of his intention or intentions, we, like observers of the world’s great Classical Works in art, drama, painting, sculture, etc can speak to how of our own feelings and impressions.  Is any one’s idea right or wrong?”

 

To this I would add T.S. Eliot’s observation that:

 

“About anyone so great as Shakespeare,

it is probable that we can never be right;

and if we can never be right,

it is better that from time to time 


we should change our way of being wrong.”

 

Now that is a challenge if I have ever heard one.

 

Dom Saliani

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Peter Groves < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 7, 2014 at 9:17:29 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Sonnets

 

Gregory Woodruff writes “Stephen Booth points out . . . that the metric of sonnet 20 reveals a layer of double entendre. “A man in hew all Hews in his controwling” reads “a MAN in HEWS ALL HEWS in his CONT row LING” with the spondee in the middle of the line, where the caesura should be, pushing the next emphasis to the first syllable of “controwling” thus emphasizing “cont,” which of course sounds like that Old English word for the female parts (Booth, 1977, pp. 163-4).”  I’m afraid this is a nonsensical scansion, with a nonsensical ad hoc ‘explanation’ attached to it.  Scansion is a game with rules (there would otherwise be no point to it) and one rule is that you can’t move lexical stress around to please yourself. There are about 100 words in Shakespeare’s English where lexical stress differs from its modern position (e.g. “auTHORising”), but there are no such words in this line: the word is “conTROlling” for Shakespeare and for us, rhyming with “ROlling”, and (to use the traditional terms), the line scans unproblematically iamb-iamb-spondee-pyrrhic-iamb with feminine ending.  There is bawdy enough in the poem: we don’t need to invent more.

 

Peter Groves

Monash University

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Ian Steere < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 8, 2014 at 9:07:39 AM EDT

Subject:    The Sonnets

 

Respondents to date are content to expound upon the diversity of interpretation of the poems—but each seems to take the diversity as justification for ducking the evidence for (shudder) biography, earlier presented. 

 

As I have previously indicated, this evidence is unimpaired by such diversity—but no one will discern this resilience if the argument is ignored.  

 
 
Gary Taylor’s Review of New Shakespeare Novel

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.181  Tuesday, 8 April 2014

 

From:        John Crowley < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 7, 2014 at 5:16:58 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Shakespeare Novel

 

Jude Morgan’s novel sounds quite dreadful. “Strident need to pee”? I’ll re-read Anthony Burgess’s wonderful “Nothing Like the Sun,” or perhaps the underrated “Bitten Apples” by Fellowes Kraft. 

 
 
Cumberbatch Does the Classics

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.180  Tuesday, 8 April 2014

 

From:        Charles Weinstein < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 8, 2014 at 8:45:38 AM EDT

Subject:    Cumberbatch Does the Classics

 

The Guardian reports that “Benedict Cumberbatch is to play Richard III on television . . . .[He] is also to play Hamlet on stage in London next year.”

 

I would like to be expectant, but Cumberbatch’s online poetry-readings give scant grounds for optimism. Take (please!) his rendition of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huf2yG7IrIA. Lines 8-11 of the poem consist of the following quatrain:

 

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, 

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; 

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. 

 

Cumberbatch reads the first of these lines as “And there were gardens bright with sinuous riles.” This glaring mispronunciation is both substantively nonsensical and incompatible with the ABAB rhyme scheme. Cumberbatch may be unfamiliar with the poem, but shouldn’t he know English?

 

His delivery of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale is even worse.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHIUo00VihM. I count at least nine errors, including one in the very first line, where he refers to “drowsy numbness” instead of “a drowsy numbness.” Soon afterwards he yearns for “a beaker of the warm south,” instead of “a beaker full of the warm south.” He absurdly reads “Provençal song” as “provincial song,” mistakes “haply” for “happily,” and pronounces “Poesy” as “Posy” (which is akin to pronouncing “poetry” as “potry”).  “Clustered around” becomes “clustered round,” while “Lethe-wards” is transmogrified into “Leth-wards.” And while Cumberbatch properly scans some of Keats’ past participles as two syllables (e.g., “mused”), he fails to do so with others (e.g., “stained,” “embalmed").

 

Cumberbatch has speculated that he may suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). http://www.digitalspy.com/celebrity/news/a477763/benedict-cumberbatch-i-probably-have-adhd.html#~oANpyYA41AUP41. This might explain a few of his mistakes, but most appear to be attributable to ignorance.  Of course, the directors of these readings are also at fault for being too unlettered or too timid to keep him up to the mark.

 

As for Cumberbatch’s interpretations, his Kubla Khan is perfunctory, while his meandering rendition of Keats’ Ode skims the surface.  Music is played under (or over) both readings to impart some of the feeling that Cumberbatch fails to provide, and perhaps to distract from his mediocrity.

 

An actor whose literary knowledge, linguistic awareness, poetic sensitivity, textual fidelity and rhetorical skills are as poor as this would seem to have no business playing Richard III and Hamlet. We shall have to wait and see if his performances, like his poetry-readings, turn out to be a Cumberbotch.

 

--Charles Weinstein

 
 
SAA Features Actors from the London Stage

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.179  Tuesday, 8 April 2014

 

From:        Actors From The London Stage < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 7, 2014 at 5:16:28 PM EDT

Subject:    SAA Features Actors from the London Stage

 

ATTENTION SHAKESPEARE SCHOLARS

 

After visiting campuses across the United States for the past 10 weeks, Actors From The London Stage will conclude its Fall 2014 tour in St. Louis at this week’s annual meeting of Shakespeare Association of America.

 

The visit will include two performances of As You Like It and four workshops open to all attendees without pre-registration. Workshops and performances will be at the SAA Conference Hotel

 

Details are as follows:

 

AFTLS As You Like It Performances:

  • Wednesday, April 9th at 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, April 11th at 8:00 p.m.

AFTLS Workshops:

  • Shakespeare and Gender: Playing sexual biformity in As You Like It
    • Thursday, April 10th at 10:00 a.m.
  • The Actor and the Text: Verse vs. prose in As You Like It
    • Thursday, April 10th at 3:30 p.m.
  • A Forest Full of Characters: Extreme casting and the creation of character(s) in As You Like It
    • Friday, April 11th at 3:30 p.m.
  • The Empty Director’s Chair: Collaboration and consensus in the AFTLS production of As You Like It
    • Saturday, April 12th at 4:00 p.m.

Download the entire 2014 SAA Conference Program HERE

 

If you’re not familiar with AFTLS and its great tradition of teaching and performing on college campuses across the USA for nearly forty years, click on the following links to learn more:

 
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