Category Archives: Shakespeare (William)

We Shall Not Look Upon His Like Again

Obama’s speech passing the baton to Hillary Clinton last night brings to mind a passage from “Hamlet.”

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Be Skeptical of Shakespeare’s Skeptics

Recent evidence further confirms what most Shakespeare scholars believe: that Shakespeare wrote the plays ascribed to him. The Bard’s social anxieties, however, may have communicated themselves to the skeptics, who play out their own anxieties as they attempt to tear him down.

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Shakespeare Was Malvolio

Recent research shows how much of a social climber Shakespeare was. The knowledge gives us new insight into characters like Malvolio and Othello.

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Kipling Perfectly Describes Brexiteers

A “Guardian” article applies Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Dead Statesman” to those irresponsible politicians who brought about Brexit. The poem applies equally well to Donald Trump.

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Defending the Canon vs. New Attacks

Yale English majors have been complaining about requiring them to study canonical writers. Here’s is why they are wrong.

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#NeverTrump! Never! Never! Never! Never?

Many who vowed NeverTrump are backing away from the word “never.” “Never” is an important word in “King Lear” and Lear, unlike Lear’s opponents, doesn’t back away from it.

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Time for GOP Moderates To Go to Ground?

As the GOP reels in the wake of Trump’s victory, it might want to model itself on Edgar in “King Lear.”

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Now, Gods, Stand Up for Trump!

When traditional institutions like the government or the Supreme Court are undermined, the way is cleared for the rise of liar like Trump.

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Ted Cruz as Lucifer, “Squat Like a Toad”

After John Boehner compared Sen. Ted Cruz to Lucifer, I went looking through “Paradise Lost” to find passages that would apply. If found a particularly good one but, if you ask me, Cruz more resembles Blifil, Tom Jones’s nemesis.

Also posted in Fielding (Henry), Milton (John), Stoker (Bram) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stories Have Always Opened Up the Future

An anthropologist argues that human beings took over the world because they had the ability to compose fictions. Literature continues to point the way forward for us as a species.

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Obama Is to Trump as Albany Is to Goneril

While Trump calls for torture of terrorists and Ted Cruz calls for carpet bombing them, President Obama calls for America to take the high moral road. He sounds like Albany arguing with Goneril in “King Lear.”

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If Trump Tweeted Classic Lit Reviews…

Donald Trump has a very distinctive twitter style., one that would be great for classic book reviews. A BuzzFeed writer imagines how he might have reviewed “Hamlet,” “Tristram Shandy,” “Ulysses,” and other classics.

Also posted in Hemingway (Ernest), Joyce (James), Sterne (Lawrence), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Plots vs. Trump Succeed?

“Beware the Ides of March,” the soothsayer tells Julius Caesar. On the Ides of March 2016, Marco Rubio received the unkindest cut from his home state of Florida. But if for perhaps a more apt application of the play, one should look at how members of the GOP establishment are hoping to stab Donald Trump at the July convention.

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Drama Shows Us a Way Out of Violence

New School philosophy professor Simon Critchley argues that theatre and the arts in general are vital in helping societies understand and moderate endemic violence. Aeschylus’s “Oresteia” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” are particularly important.

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Sans Scalia, a Happy Midsummer Ending?

The late Antonin Scalia claimed to be a strict textualist and would have found some excuse to support Texas’s law designed to close down abortion centers. There’s a Scalia-type character in “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Fortunately, by the end of the play he has been overruled.

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Christie as Prufrock & Other Lit Allusions

Political pundits have been turning to literature to talk about the GOP primaries. This past week saw citations of Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, Lewis Carroll, and Richard Adams (“Watership Down”).

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Prospero and the Presidential Primaries

Think of Shakespeare’s “Tempest” as an allegory for the current state of American politics, especially the presidential primaries. It contains visionaries and cynics, orchestrators and disrupters. If Prospero is the island “establishment,” then he enjoys some success but it is qualified.

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Rubio vs. Bush: The Unkindest Cut

The struggle between Jeb Bush and his former protegé Marco Rubio has been described as Shakespearean. The Shakespeare duos that come to mind are Caesar-Brutus, Duncan-Macbeth, and Henry IV-Hal.

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Conservative Extremists as King Lear

In another significant post that appeared this past year, I compared GOP extremists to King Lear–more interested in self-indulgent behavior than in responsible governance. The result is a divided country at war with itself.

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Donne’s Lovers, Spooky at a Distance

Tuesday Adam Gopnik makes some nice literary allusions in a recent New Yorker essay-review of George Musser’s Spooky at a Distance, which is about the history of quantum entanglement theory. Entanglement, also known as non-locality and described by Einstein as “spooky at a distance,” claims that two particles of a single wave function can influence each other, even […]

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A Cosmic Theory of Literature

My attempt at an overarching theory of literature and its place in human history and human progress.

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Rand (Ayn), Sidney (Sir Philip), Terence | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Johnson: The Bard Instructs by Delighting

Although today we are sometimes suspicious when literature seeks to instruct us, Samuel Johnson considered this to be literature’s primary aim. He held up Shakespeare as proof.

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Jeb! Agonistes: An Unsettling Parallel

Does Jeb Bush resemble at the moment Samson Agonistes? His rivalry with Marco Rubio also resembles any number of Shakespeare tragedies. There’s an Oedipus parallel as well.

Also posted in Milton (John), Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Bard Does Halloween

In honor of Halloween, check out what Shakespeare had to say about ghosts. When his graves yawn and yield up their dead, they produce apparitions that are genuinely frightening.

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Sacks & the Bard’s Midsummer Madness

The late Oliver Sacks’s observations on the mind sometimes sound a lot like Shakespeare in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest.”

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All the Devils of Hell Unleashed by Katrina

The panic of New Orleans 9th Ward residents ten years ago is reminiscent of the passengers on board the ship in Shakespeare’s “Tempest”: “Hell is empty and all the devils are here!”

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The Bard Endorsed Same Sex Marriage

In “Twelfth Night,” 400 years before Obergefell v. Hodges, Shakespeare dreamed of same sex marriage. He would have been celebrating Friday after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage.

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Puck’s Summer Magic

“Midsummer Night’s Dream” dips into ancient British legends about the mystical aspects of midsummer.

Also posted in Kipling (Rudyard), Nesbitt (E.), Sir Gawain Poet | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Memorable Poetic Pick-Up Lines

10 memorable pick-up lines from poetic greats. Try them at a bar near you.

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Behn (Aphra), Donne (John), Herrick (Robert), Marvell (Andrew), Montagu (Lady Mary Wortley), Rostand (Edmond de), Wilmot (John) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hamlet Instructs the Class of 2015

Our commencement ceremonies included a reading of Hamlet’s advice to the players.

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The Real Victims of Deflategate

Two characters from “Hamlet” have been invoked in Tom Brady’s deflategate scandal. Can you guess which ones?

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