As Dickens was born in 1812 two anniversary biographies have appeared. For an assessment of their merits vis-a-vis earlier biographies see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/books/review/charles-dickens-biographies-review.html
An academic provides nine ways of looking at the question, ‘Who was Shakespeare?’ This controversy never seems to go away – see the recent book by James Shapiro, Contested Will (in the library) for a summary of all the foolishness and deception involved. There’s a film appearing soon that will support one of the wildest of these theories: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBmnkk0QW3Q
See Shapiro’s review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/nov/04/anonymous-shakespeare-film-roland-emmerich
As part of the course ‘Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature’ (which includes The Merchant of Venice) students are visiting Groningen Synagogue on Wed. 9 November where they will get a tour of the building and a lecture on Shylockism in British Literature by Wout van Bekkum, the Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at RUG.
Usually the illustrations in novels are readings of fictional works by the artists and although they might add to a book, few people would think of referring to them as an integral part of the text. Famously, Tenniel’s drawings for Alice in Wonderland were executed in such close cooperation with Lewis that no edition of Alice without the Tenniel drawings is really Alice. Another unusual case is where the author is the illustrator as, for example, in Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
Two sites looking at the composition of the graphic novel Maus (which is on the Pleasures of the Text course). This is one of the best known graphic novels. It is based on the author’s father’s life and represents the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats.
Jonson had a much more interesting life than his contemporary, Shakespeare. He was a soldier, killed someone in a duel and converted (for a while) to Catholicism at a time when this was unlikely to have earned him any credit at the Royal court.
“I know no more about this play than anyone who manages to read it attentively. . . . I do not know who Godot is. I do not even know if he exists. And I do not know if they believe he does, these two who are waiting for him.”