After 10 months of reading Shakespeare along with The Play's The Thing Blog, I finally feel like I've crossed the line as to greater appreciation andAfter 10 months of reading Shakespeare along with The Play's The Thing Blog, I finally feel like I've crossed the line as to greater appreciation and understanding. Hurray!
Merchant of Venice is my 14th play, reading them in roughly chronological order that Shakespeare wrote them. There were three distinct parts of Merchant of Venice: the fairytale-like way Portia was to determine her husband; the loan and the bond, "a pound of flesh" required by the Jewish moneylender, Shylock; and the part where Portia becomes the judge. There was also the last act, which was filled with symbolism and sweetness, the latter quite a contrast to the previous acts.
From Marjorie B. Garber: "Gold, silver, lead. The choice of the three caskets is also a choice offered to the audience of Shakespeare’s play. The gold of happy endings, of golden stars and the golden rule and the Golden Fleece, but also of inheritance and rivalry, Belmont with all its idealizing quality and all its undercurrents of disquieting cost. The silver of commerce, of the pale and common drudge ‘tween man and man, of the use of usury that makes Bassanio’s quest possible, makes possible the commercial world of Venice (and of London). And lead. The lead of the third casket, the choice we all have to learn that we all have to choose. The lead of mortality, the choice of death. Notice that the play opens all three of these caskets, not just the last one, and that it once again discloses similarities, as well as differences, between and among them. ‘I am locked in one of them,’ says Portia, but she – and the play – is really locked in all three. In this play of difference the casket choice offered to the audience and the reader is a choice not between but of. We cannot proceed directly to the leaden casket: choosing it first would not be the right choice. We must open the caskets in turn – Belmont, Venice, poetry, death – in order to assess the value of their contents, choosing their meanings (‘who chooses his meaning chooses you’). The ambivalence that an audience feels about this play is something built into the play and emerging from it. If we alternatively sympathize with Shylock and criticize him; admire Bassanio’s energy and deplore his mercantile motives and his use of other people; bask in the glory of Portia’s wit and wisdom, her ‘godlike amity,’ and critique her as a woman who will always get her way, regardless of the wishes and the feelings of others – if we feel this ambivalence – it is not because the play fails but because it succeeds."
From Harold Clarke Goddard: "At a time like our own when economic problems sometimes threaten to eclipse all others, their relation to moral and spiritual problems gets forgotten. But to divorce the two is to leave both insoluble. The Merchant of Venice not only does not make this error itself, it corrects it for us. It offers precisely the wisdom we need, a wisdom that goes deeper than the doctrine of any economic school or sect. Shylock made his money by usury, Antonio, his by trade, Portia got hers by inheritance, Bassanio by borrowing and then by marriage, Jessica by theft and later by judicial decree. The interplay of their lives makes enthralling drama. But to those not content to stop with the story it propounds questions that have a strangely contemporary ring: How are these various modes of acquiring and holding property related? Are they as unlike as they seem? And, coming closer home: Am I myself possibly, thanks to one or more of them, living in a golden world?"...more
I liked this book, focusing on Robert Dudley, because I like the series, the setting and the time period, but if this were the first book I'd read inI liked this book, focusing on Robert Dudley, because I like the series, the setting and the time period, but if this were the first book I'd read in the series I wouldn't be encouraged to read others. Dudley makes several unimpressive appearances in The Queen's Fool, the preceding book in The Tudor series.
The abrupt though not quick ending, and lack of action and character development were flaws, though I enjoyed a different look at the first years of Queen Elizabeth's reign, political and sexual maneuvering from the male perspective rather than female....more
Jewish refugee, Hannah Verde, renamed Hannah Green, gets caught up in intrigue and politics and is pressed into service as a Fool, first in the reignJewish refugee, Hannah Verde, renamed Hannah Green, gets caught up in intrigue and politics and is pressed into service as a Fool, first in the reign of King Edward and then Queen Mary (1548-1558). Suspenseful and historically fascinating, but longer than necessary.
Queen Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VII, is another doomed and misguided member of the Tudor family, who is extremely jealous of her younger half-sister, later Queen Elizabeth, who is the daughter of Mary's worst enemy, Anne Boleyn....more
Told from the perspective of three different women: Anne of Cleves, Jane Boleyn, widow of George who was executed the same time as his sister Anne, and Catherine Howard; this historical novel is a bit less engrossing but still interesting, with interesting characters and historical period. Jane becomes a more sympathetic and understandable character, but still in the end, despicable, than portrayed in The Other Boleyn Girl....more
Focusing on Katherine of Aragon, Daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, who is betrothed as a small child to Prince Arthur of EnglandFocusing on Katherine of Aragon, Daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, who is betrothed as a small child to Prince Arthur of England, and after his death she becomes the first wife of Henry VIII, preceding Anne Boleyn, who is the featured in the second book of the Tudor Court Series.
I continue to be fascinated with this historical series, and time period, which ties in well with the historical plays of Shakespeare, my other current reading interest. Gregory's emphasis on the personalities and strengths as well as weaknesses of the historical figures makes them come to life....more
Mixed feelings about this book coalesced into admiration for how well the alternating and intersecting plots involving Shakespeare in 1582 and his modMixed feelings about this book coalesced into admiration for how well the alternating and intersecting plots involving Shakespeare in 1582 and his modern counterpart, Willie, in 1986, merged into a cohesive novel, with similar life-changing situations and character development. The subtitle, "a novel of sex, drugs and Shakespeare" is correct but neither the drugs or the sex seem gratuitous but rather support the theme of discovery, interconnectedness and building quality relationships.
My recent background in reading Shakespeare and novels about Shakespeare and his time, furthered my enjoyment, but would not be necessary to appreciate the storyline....more
A fictional journal of the year 1597 in the life of 14-year-old Susanna Shakespeare, oldest daughter of William, as she deals with the loss of her broA fictional journal of the year 1597 in the life of 14-year-old Susanna Shakespeare, oldest daughter of William, as she deals with the loss of her brother, her struggles to be herself in a time when conformity was necessary for survival, the restrictions on Catholics, and a budding romantic interest.
The journal style seemed a bit forced and occasionally lapses into lengthier segments. Susanna's escapades add interest and excitement but do not seem historically likely for her to take such liberties. There are several references to Shakespeare's works but, unless one was familiar with the plays, might not mean much to the average child reader.
Author's Note at the end adds historical details about Shakespeare, his family and religion. This would rank on the low side of 3*....more
Doesn't everyone know the basic plot of Romeo and Juliet? Though I was fairly familiar with the story, I had forgotten how young Juliet was (14) and tDoesn't everyone know the basic plot of Romeo and Juliet? Though I was fairly familiar with the story, I had forgotten how young Juliet was (14) and the love-sick-ness of the characters seems way overdone, but then again, this is Shakespeare, and a classic of classics.
From Atlas Obscura: Juliet's Balcony [image error] Even though Juliet Capulet is a fictional character created by Shakespeare, millions worship her as a love goddess. Every year tourists from around the globe, flock to Verona just to see the balcony where she was wooed by her Romeo.
The balcony belongs to the aptly named, La Casa di Giulietta, or House of Juliet, the former home of the Cappello family and the inspiration for the Capulets. Love-struck couples linger in the garden, pose for pictures on the balcony, or attach letters filled with sweet nothings to the walls. For good luck, many like to cop a feel off the bronze statue of Juliet, specifically her right breast, which has resulted in it developing a beautiful patina.
People even send mail to Juliet of Verona. There is a local volunteer group that is dedicated to responding to the thousands upon thousands of letters that pour in annually, by people desperately seeking romantic advice.
What was nothing more than a figment of Shakespeare’s imagination is now a central part of Verona’s tourism industry....more
When the king issues a decree of monastic discipline on his country and attendants and all must forswear love/contact with the opposite sex, it is immWhen the king issues a decree of monastic discipline on his country and attendants and all must forswear love/contact with the opposite sex, it is immediately apparent that no one, including the king himself, are able to abide by the consequence. When a visiting princess and her attendants tease and deceive them there a massive bungling of witty and comedic consequences....more
A play within a play, involving three separate sets of characters who interact in dream-like comedic sequences. Consequences of harsh laws, fairy taleA play within a play, involving three separate sets of characters who interact in dream-like comedic sequences. Consequences of harsh laws, fairy tale magic, and odd events in the moonlight combined with confusion and a ludicrous consequences equals high entertainment.
This is one of Shakespeare's plays with which I had previous experience. ...more