Musings on Poets and Poetry

For me, reading the American literary critic, Harold Bloom, is often like wading in molasses. Intellectual molasses, to be sure, but slow going nonetheless. His writing is thick with difficult ideas and difficult words. Bloom’s historical reach, his knowledge and his understanding of the tapestry of literature far outstrip mine, so I find myself scuttling to the Net or other books on my shelf … (more)

Shakespeare’s Mirror

Grant that, and then is death a benefit. So are we Caesar’s friends, that have abridged His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop, And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood Up to the elbows and besmear our swords. Then walk we forth, even to the marketplace, And, waving our red weapons o’er our heads, Let’s all cry “Peace, freedom, and liberty!” … (more)

Misquoting Shakespeare. Again.

Let me begin with a digression on memes. Like a virus, a meme can spread uncontrollably in the right environment and infect millions with an idea or goal. This, of course, is good for such advocates of social ideals as Greenpeace or PETA, but like viruses, there can be bad memes that do more damage than good. More, it seems, than good or socially … (more)

Power, ambition, backstabbing

Power grabs. Backstabbing. Lust. Ambition. Conniving. Hypocrisy. A weak but well-meaning ruler. A grasping second in command who viciously usurps power. A bureaucrat jealous of the nobles, jockeying for power and trading favours to get his way. Sleazy nobles selling their loyalty for petty trinkets. A cast of despicable, grasping characters all out for themselves, oblivious of the cost of their machinations on the common people, … (more)

On the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death

“Is There Such a Thing as a ‘Bad’ Shakespeare Play?” asks a recent article on the Smithsonian website. It adds, “Shakespeare, despite the efforts of notable dissenting critics and writers to forcibly eject him, has occupied the position of world’s greatest playwright since his star was re-affixed to the firmament in the late 18th century. No other playwright is as universally revered. No other … (more)

The Bard’s Best? Nope…

To help celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death (April 23) and 452nd of his birth (also April 23), the website Mashable has put together a “battle” for the “Best Shakespeare Play Ever.” It’s done up as a sort of sports playoff grid (a tournament bracket), broken into four categories. Four? That’s right. Even though the First Folio was only divided into three categories, … (more)

Anthony and Cleopatra

While Julius Caesar is my favourite of all Shakespeare’s plays, I think Anthony and Cleopatra is my second favourite. I know it’s hard to choose any favourites from his plays, they’re all so good, but this one seems to resonate with me more than most others, enough to encourage me to reread it this week. Perhaps it’s because both lead characters are past their … (more)

Prenzie Scamels

Four hundred years after he wrote them, we still use in everyday speech the many words and phrases Shakespeare coined. He gave us so many, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to list them all here. But two words he wrote have stopped us dead: prenzie and scamels. What do they mean? Were they more of his 1,700-plus famous neologisms like accommodation, castigate, frugal, inauspicious, … (more)

Shakespeare Changed Everything

I have been reading an entertaining little book called How Shakespeare Changed Everything, which, as the title suggests, is about the pervasive influence the Bard has had on pretty much everything in our lives ever since he started putting quill to paper. Stephen Marche’s book was described in the NatPost as a, “sprightly, erudite sampling of Shakespeare’s influence on absolutely everything.” Reviewer Robert Cushman … (more)

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