The title of Hamlet…

The Second Quarto (1603-4): The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection: title page (1604)
Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection: title page (1604)

 

The First Folio (1623): The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection: title page (1623)
Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection: title page (1623)

Tragical History or Tragedy?

What’s the difference? Is it important?

Podcast 95: Twelfth Night: Directorial Concept, Cast, and Wrap-Up

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This week’s podcast concludes our two month-long discussion of Twelfth Night, with a directorial concept, a look back, and a wrap-up of the play.

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Twelfth Night: midpoint

Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory, let’s take a look at Twelfth Night.

There are 2462 lines in in the play, which means the midpoint is at line 1231, or at Act Three, Scene One, line 65. Now, Rodes’ theory postulated that you could find (within twenty lines either way) a speech that perfectly summed up the major theme of the play. The 20-line leeway was to help remove the differences in prose line lengths between individual editions; and in a play with as much prose as Twelfth Night (63% of the lines are prose), this forty-line window seems to be all the more important.

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The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, February 23th, 2015

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This week’s Shakespeare news review includes the Stratford Shakespeare Festival initiative to capture its productions on video for future release, Shakespeare & Co.’s 2015 season, National Theatre Live’s announcement that this October’s Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch will be broadcast globally to cinemas, Buenos Aires’ Shakespeare Fest, and the mock trial of Falstaff v. The Merry Housewives of Windsor. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

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Twelfth Night: it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad play

So, for the past few days I’ve looked at the meanings and occurrences of some words in Twelfth Night and within the Canon as a whole, “Puritan” and “gull,” in specific.

But there’s another word/set of words/concepts that seemed to be popping up some frequency during my repeated readings: “mad”-man/nessness, and its Elizabethan brethren, “distract.”

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Twelfth Night: Puritanical Shorthand

I’m going to start this post seemingly off-topic.

Last week, Jon Stewart announced his upcoming departure from The Daily Show. Stewart, if you’re going to label him, is a liberal. Now watching the show on television (or online, if you’re a cord-cutter) can be a fairly enjoyable experience, no matter where you sit on the socio-political spectrum. There’s enough stuff there needling everyone, that even non-liberals can find something to laugh at. In person, however, you get a different vibe (even from just listening to the broadcast): here, the audience is a little more rabidly left-wing, as you can tell whenever Stewart ridicules conservative philosophy. It could be said that he doesn’t even have to ridicule conservative thinking, all the has to do is mention it to get a rise out of his audience. “Conservative” for his audience has become a kind a shorthand, encompassing an veritable cornacorpia of political, fiscal, military, and social sins in the eyes of his live audience.

Why do I mention this?

Stewart isn’t the first to do this. I would argue that Shakespeare did it over 400 years ago in Twelfth Night. Only then it was not “conservative” that was the shorthand, bur rather “Puritan” that was the red-meat for the groundlings.

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