Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Devise, wit; write, pen

I was thinking, late last night, of posting about sleep, and how much I love it. But then phrases kept popping into my head, one after another after another:

To sleep, perchance to dream.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care.

Shakespeare. He knew about sleep and dreams. And those are just the sleep ones that I thought of, lying in bed. If I try, without references, to think of other Shakespeare quotes, I could go on and on:

Arise, fair sun and kill the envious moon.
The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar.
Words, words, words...
Discretion is the better part of valor.
There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Out, damned spot!

I love Shakespeare. This is how much of a Shakespeare nerd I am: in college I took all the Shakespeare courses I could for my lit degree...and then I audited the rest of the available courses. Just for fun. Also in college I got together with a couple of other nerdy friends and had some Shakespeare evenings, where we ate junk food, drank wine, and read Shakespeare aloud, acting out the parts. I've seen Shakespeare plays live in Ashland, Oregon; London; San Diego (lots; even when we go on vacation there I fit one in); Sacramento; San Francisco; Los Angeles; and Butte, Montana. I've seen all the Kenneth Branagh Shakespeare movies, more than once. I've been to Stratford-upon-Avon and visited Anne Hathaway's cottage.

It's fascinating, once you look, how very many common phrases and quotes, and words, come straight from Shakespeare. All's well that ends well. All that glitters is not gold. Bag and baggage. Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Brave new world. Brevity is the soul of wit. (Go here for more)

So I began to wonder...he's clearly affected my use of language, even how I think about language. He's affected how I think about drama, and what a play (or a story) should do. Has he crept into my book as well? Are any of my characters unconscious echoes of Shakespearean characters or ideas?

I don't know yet; I'm still pondering it. Godwina somehow reminds me of Goneril from King Lear. The Duke...well, he could be lots of Dukes. {g} Katherine is just Katherine to me, so I can't compare her. But it's interesting to think about, trying to fit your own work into the larger body of literature, to see how it fits. If it fits.

Are any of you Shakespeare freaks too?

Medieval Word of the Day: tempest: A violent storm of wind, usually accompanied by a downfall of rain, hail, or snow, or by thunder.


Renée said...

I'm a Shakespeare fan, although you have me beat on the college courses. I took a Shakepeare class one summer at U.C. Berkeley and it was great! I've seen several productions (mostly in Vacaville) but my favorite Shakespeare memory is reading Othello aloud with my mom. It was a class assignment in high school and she and I took parts and read the whole thing together. That's when I caught the Shakespeare bug and Othello has been my favorite ever since. So gorgeous and sad.

Susan Adrian said...


Yes, I like Othello too--just saw it staged in San Diego this summer. I'm torn on favorites. I like Hamlet for tragedy and Henry IV for historicals, but I think my favorite is Much Ado about Nothing. :)