Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

Portia’s Casket (More Stumbles) | Voices News for the Week of August 31

Repost of my weekly column for The Shakespeare Standard. See the original post here.

So, given all the oddities I stumbled into last week, I decided to continue on stumbling into odd and otherwise tidbits again this week.

If Shakespeare is called by any other name, would he still be Shakespeare? Would our favorites, such as Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Julietand Midsummer Night’s Dream be the same, if they were written, not by the now familiar bard, but someone else? Steven Cherry hashes out this issue as he reminds in Shakespeare by Any Other Name that the Shakespeare authorship is still under debate. Would it be a very different world, if Shakespeare is not the Shakespeare that we have always believed to be?

Few people earn from the Bard, few people earn from Shakespeare. Even staff of The Shakespeare Standard does not earn from the Bard. David Sabrio, states, “Reading and studying Shakespeare, the arts and humanities may not make us materially wealthy. But studying these fields can give us wealth that is not subject to the fluctuations of the Dow Jones averages; the arts, humanities, and Shakespeare give us wealth that, in the long run, is just as valuable as material goods and far less ephemeral. We should not have to choose between Shakespeare and solar shingles.” In the article Either or Fallacy: Shakespeare vs. Sciencethe Bard’s importance to our everyday life was given life, though we may not earn from it.

Photo by Ian Nichols

Shakespeare is an inspiration to literature, in so many levels. This includes the inspiration for Shakespeare and Company, a quaint bookstore that “lives under the brooding glory of Notre Dame de Paris, at 37 Rue Bucherie, in the fifth arrondissement.” According to Ian Nichols, “To walk into Shakespeare and Co is to enter a wonderland jumble of books. The first thing you see upon entering is a case holding rare books and first editions. I had to have my credit card surgically removed when I saw a first edition of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises on display.” The book stops here, “There may be some order to how the books are stacked, piled and heaped, but it is one open only to initiates. For the novice, it is simply a browser’s paradise, where you can grab a book of poetry, slide on up to one of the many cafes nearby and enjoy a little verse and execrable French coffee. If you’re lucky, you may chance upon on of their weekly readings, a signing, or even one of their bi-annual festivals. Like Paris, Shakespeare and Company is a whirlwind of delights.” As the inspiration suggests, Shakespeare has his unique pleasure that you have to find amidst the whirlwind.

Stewart Buettner, Author of The Shakespeare Manuscript

More on Shakespearean inspired literature, a literature from literature, Lauren Zachary reviews Stewart Buettner’s The Shakespeare Manuscript“The race to put on the new production is on, but this strange new Shakespearean play takes its toll on everyone involved as they search for the manuscript and begin to discover their true identities, revealing secrets and taking risks along the way. Was the manuscript really written by Shakespeare? Or is it a fraud? And who stole the manuscript? The Shakespeare Manuscript is an interesting read as Buettner weaves this captivating plot by providing a perspective of a different character with each new chapter. This keeps the reader on edge and speculating as to who stole the manuscript until the very end. It does contains a fair amount of foul language and material that may make it difficult to finish.”

On a lighter note, can you imagine Shakespeare’s Macbeth voice-acted by The Simpsons characters? Jack Van Beynen says, “Some of the play’s funniest moments came when he played on the original text, inserting pop culture references or snide remarks from the characters pointing out its flaws. Although he takes many liberties with the script, this is the show’s beauty. Miller proves that Shakespeare can be fun, that we can play with it as well as revere it.You get the sense Miller really loves Shakespeare, and while The Bard can seem daunting, MacHomer is an excellent, highly entertaining way of making one of his greatest tragedies accessible.”

Literature and more, we should open more caskets and discover more Shakespeare. If you pay attention, he is around and easy to stumble into. How did you stumble into Shakespeare today?

Are you interested in joining The Standard’s volunteer staff? Check out our current staffing needs. If one of our roles sounds perfect for you, email our Managing Editor today!

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