Back in December, before Godaddy broke my blog through technical incompetence, I had written a piece about the first stanza in Inferno, the first book of Dante’s trilogy, The Divine Comedy. Since that post seems irretrievably lost, I decided to write another in the same vein. So please bear with me if this seems redundant. It all began innocently enough on Tuesday late last year when I was searching through my bookshelves in search of something I can no longer … click below for more!
Eyyyyyyy Wssup guys This was the entire first post that started a thread in a group I belonged to on Facebook. I think seeing it aged me a decade, and encouraged me to leave the group afterwards. Walking barefoot on broken glass would cause me less distress. All the poster needed to do to make me despair enough to seriously consider slitting my wrists would have been to write “yall” instead of “guys” (thus removing any actual words from the … click below for more!
Are less-religious or more secular nations happier than religious ones? Studies suggest yes. Personally, I would certainly be happier in a more secular nation if it meant fewer angry, nasty, fanatic believers like the Westboro Baptist congregation (see picture, right), or the faux-faith anti-mask/anti-vaccine, pro-disease protestors,* or any of the frothing anti-choice, anti-abortion protestors who appear around medical clinics. I suspect many among us would also live much more happily without their disruptive, often vicious, pseudo-religious behaviour. But as a … click below for more!
At the end of his long and storied life, Giacomo Casanova found himself a lonely man in a damp, cold castle in Bohemia, a small German kingdom distant from all the places where he had lived and loved. The servants mocked him, making fun of his stuffy, outdated and foreign fashions, his powdered wigs and stiff formality. He is from an older world, a more refined and gentile world than everyone around him, and as the 19th-century approaches, he struggles … click below for more!
In his famous work, Essays, Michel de Montaigne, channelling the Epicureans, wrote that, “All the opinions in the world point out that pleasure is our aim. (Book I: On the Power of Imagination).” And I have to admit that what we euphemistically call “junk food” is a widespread pleasure that many of us enjoy these days. Of course, Montaigne, ever the skeptic, also wrote, “Que sais je?” (What do I know? Book II, Ch. 12). I did it again: I … click below for more!
It was a dark and stormy night… Shakespeare’s last solo-authored play, The Tempest, opens with a storm (the eponymous tempest) in which a group of elite passengers (a king, a duke, relatives, and courtly hangers-on) gets washed overboard (or jump) while the working sailors remain safe onboard their ship. In fact, the working class are sturdy, brave, and steadfast as they struggle to save the ship and passengers, while the panicked elites run around like headless chickens on the deck, … click below for more!
Niccolo Machiavelli and Michel de Montaigne never met, nor could they have — Machiavelli died six years before Montaigne was born, and they lived about 1,200 km (800 miles) apart — but imagine the conversations they could have had if they had lived at the same time and close enough to visit one another, to have dinner together. Imagine the hard-nosed philosopher of the body politic and the curious philosopher of inner space, together, discussing humankind, discussing ways of living, … click below for more!
This week I finished re-reading The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz, the best biography I’ve read of the group that defined music, culture, and style in the Sixties: the era I grew up in. I’ve read several other bios in the past, both of the band and of the individual members, although there are many more in print that I haven’t read. But this is the only one I’ve re-read. And it was well worth it, to recall in … click below for more!
There’s a passage from the novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog (by Muriel Barbery, Europa Editions, 2008, p. 116-117) that so delighted me when I came across it that I read it aloud to Susan: “Mildly hemorrhagic urine” is, to me, a form of light entertainment: it has a nice ring to it and evokes a singular world, a brief refreshing change from literature. For the very same reason, I enjoy reading the leaflets that come with medication, the respite … click below for more!
Unless you’re an academic who has studied The Bard for your entire career, you really need a guide, a Virgil if you will, to enter the dark forest of Shakespeare and find your way about in it. At the very least, you’ll want a guide to Shakespeare’s language and wordplay to illuminate the texts. Fortunately, there are plenty of guides to be had in the printed world. From essays on a single soliloquy to books that explore the entire canon, … click below for more!
A good book of selected quotations from Shakespeare is a nice complement to the collected works. Properly arranged, it lets you find relevant aphorisms, and speeches on a wide variety of topics; bon mots you can drop into conversations, emails, and blog posts. As is my wont, I have collected several of these books, and herein are my opinions of them. Note that there may be later editions than those noted here. First, I classify them as four different types … click below for more!
Wonderful thing, the internet. You can type “complete works reading list Shakespeare” into a search engine and come up with dozens of lists with a recommended order for reading The Bard’s plays and poems over the period of a year. And none of them the same or seemingly made with the same logic. But, it seems, many have taken up the challenge. In almost no time, I had several lists to examine (here’s a PDF I made of the first … click below for more!
When the Arden Shakespeare: Complete Works arrived this week (an early birthday gift from my wife who might have wanted to hide it until the actual date… oops… I saw the postie arrive…), I thought it might be time to put together a spreadsheet identifying some of the key differences between the various versions of the “complete works” in my library, and among those other editions I don’t own (but may in the future). This is meant to help me … click below for more!
When the First Folio was published in 1623, it had 36 of the Bard’s plays, listed in three categories: histories, tragedies, and comedies (it didn’t include his longer poems, or the sonnets)*. And even then, these were not all of his plays. Several were not included, although they were known to the folio’s compilers. For reasons unknown, there were several plays missing from the original canon, including Pericles, Prince of Tyre; The Two Noble Kinsmen; Edward III; The Book of … click below for more!