BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week was called ‘Icons of English Literature’ today. The podcast is available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0004s95
Chaucer is renowned as the father of English literature. But in a new biography Marion Turner argues he is a far more cosmopolitan writer and thinker than we might assume. She tells Andrew Marr how the 14th-century author of The Canterbury Tales moved from the commercial wharves of London to the chapels of Florence, and from a spell as a prisoner of war in France to the role of diplomat in Milan.
The academic Emma Smith challenges audiences to look with fresh eyes at the plays of Shakespeare. In a series of essays she reveals how his plays have as much to say about PTSD, intersectionality and #MeToo as they do about Ovid, marriage and the divine right of kings.
When Charles Dickens started his writing career, his ambition was global: to speak to ‘every nation upon earth’. And he succeeded. His stories reached Russia, China, Australia, even Antarctica, and he was mobbed in the street when he visited America. Juliet John, co-curator of the exhibition Global Dickens, examines how Dickens’s work could travel so far, when the settings of his novels were much closer to home. [BBC]
The latest issue of William the Dutch Shakespeare magazine has now appeared. A number of people associated with the department have been involved with it:
Kristy Zuijdervliet has written an article ‘Shakespeare fandom 3.0’
Dr Hans Jansen has written about Measure for Measure and his fetish for Shakespeare dolls.
Sara van Geloven, a former student, is now the general editor of the publication.
A seventeenth-century manuscript that includes poetry by John Donne (written during his lifetime but not in his own hand) has been discovered at Melford Hall in Suffolk recently and is expected to realise an auction price of three hundred thousand pounds.
See the auction catalogue details including images of the pages (Sotheby’s).
Thanks to Pamela for drawing this to my attention.
The Shakespeare Documented site reproduces contemporary documents about Shakespeare’s biography and reception.
Records of Shakespeare’s father’s legal problem have recently been rediscovered at the National Archives (London). Their discoverer makes a case for their relevance to the representation of government power in Shakespeare’s plays.
George Lauder (1603-1670): Life and Writings by Prof. Alasdair MacDonald (our emeritus professor of English Language and Literature of the Middle Ages) has recently been published by Boydell & Brewer.
The Scottish poet George Lauder began as a “university wit”, by imitating anti-papal satires popular in the Italian Renaissance. He set off for London as a young man, looking for patronage, but instead became an officer in the army, seeing service in France, the Low Countries, Germany, Denmark and Sweden — an experience which provides the backdrop to the poetry of his mature years. At the Restoration he wrote a lengthy poem of advice to Charles II, and his final masterwork was a poetic conflation of the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ. Lauder was influenced by Ben Jonson, William Drummond, and by the Metaphysical and the Caroline styles. His personal library testifies to his wide range of interests, and to his acquaintance with European literature in neo-Latin and other languages.
This volume traces Lauder’s career, collects all his surviving verse (presented with full notes and commentary), and examines his interactions with certain of the greatest intellectuals of the Dutch Golden Age. Lauder was a British patriot and a loyal supporter of the House of Orange; above all, however, he is the author of a unique corpus of highly accomplished poetry.
On Monday 28 May at 21:30 (UK time) BBC 2 will broadcast their King Lear starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and others. Details here.
As the play had to be cut down to a little under two hours, the BBC version is expected to adapt the text considerably. The ageing Lear looks back nostalgically to a housekeeper he wanted to, but did not marry. In the consequent emotional turbulence he resolves to eat one of his daughters and a fool, and drink the blood of one of his sons-in-law. However, he cannot decide whom he should dine on first, and though it is clear that he should drink Burgundy, the culinary dilemma unhinges him.
(image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b57d0w)
Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is often regarded as the most controversial play The Bard has ever written. This is not peculiar: the tale of Italian merchant Antonio who signs a contract with the Jewish Shylock is riddled with antisemitic motives and questions the morality of the law. The Groningen University Theatre Society (GUTS) brings The Merchant of Venice to the Groningen stage in an authentic and completely English rendition.
16-18 February, Vrijdag Theatre. Click here for details.
Note that this play is on the syllabus of the year 2 course Shakespeare & Early Modern Literature.