We have always known already that Shakespeare was a collaborator; he was a man of the theatre which is an inherently very collaborative, social art. The news is that he also collaborated as a writer much more than we used to think he did. We can now say with a high degree of certainty that upward of third of his plays were co-written in some sense or other. In most film portrayals, Shakespeare seems to produce his plays in isolation.
What constitutes a person’s identity: family, country, religion? How do we resolve conflict: military action, strategy, negotiation? What turns a good man into a traitor?
I just found out that a scientist whom I greatly admire is writing his first book. Only he’s not. He’s hired a writer to do the heavy lifting. The hired writer’s name won’t appear on the cover. He’s signed on the dotted line in the invisible ink. Ghostwriters don’t write about ghosts, but waft around in the background like them. Unlike real ghosts, such behind-the-scenes authors deal in reality, turning the ideas of ‘living’ authors into words for them to take credit for.
How does an avowedly nonpartisan news organization like the New York Times cover an outrageous but media-savvy and factuality-challenged candidate like Donald Trump? In a recent interview, Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet explained that the press was at first flustered by Trump, that “everybody went in a little bit shell-shocked in the beginning, about how you cover a guy who makes news constantly.
When we read Shakespeare’s Complete Works we are primarily, of course, reading Shakespeare. But as a bonus we also get, in the same volume, an excellent anthology of most of the important playwrights who were his collaborators. Shakespeare collaborated for the same reason that most people do: different members of the team are especially good at different tasks.
The recent media furore surrounding the publication of new findings about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works reassures us of one thing: people care about Shakespeare. Or, perhaps better stated, people care about caring about Shakespeare. A momentary venture into the ‘comments’ section to any of these news stories (a risky move at the best of times) reveals at least three camps of commentators.
I am in Palermo, sitting on the floor of the puppet museum with a circle of teenagers. Around us hang gaudy, dormant marionettes of characters from the Orlando Furioso: the valiant Orlando and his horse Brigliadoro, his rival Rinaldo, his beloved the beautiful Angelica. Their stories are amazing, the stuff of epic and romance; but in fact the teenagers around me, all boys, have been through adventures no less extraordinary, though harsh and real.
Some people love libraries so much, they never leave. Though no living human being knows exactly what happens—or doesn’t happen—after death, certain library patrons have reported unnatural, paranormal events occurring within the walls of these four supposedly haunted libraries. Could they be ghosts attempting to check out a new Sci-Fi novel or mischievously disrupting the organized stacks?
Sherlock Holmes is literature’s greatest rationalist; his faith in material reality is absolute. In his certainty, he resembles his creator; but not in his materialism. From the beginning of his writing career, Doyle was fascinated by the spirit world. One of his favourite literary modes, the Gothic, allowed him to explore the world of spirits and the supernatural, of vengeful mummies and predatory vampires, of ghosts and necromancers.
When Best Buy, the American multinational consumer electronics corporation, declared 30 October 2008 “National Vampire Awareness Day,” they were cannily exploiting a metaphor that, within Western culture at least, was over 200 years old. Here, though, the vampires to be arrested, staked, and vanquished were not the suave, velvet-cloaked aristocrats of Old-World Europe, but the electronics and electrical appliances…
Homeric word-order is unusually accommodating towards its English equivalent. Verbs usually come where you expect them, adjectives sit near their nouns. Compared to, say, the complex structures of a Pindaric ode, or the elliptical one-line exchanges of dramatic dialogue, Homer’s largely paratactic progression of ‘…and…but…when…then…’ presents his translator with few immediate problems.
We’re eagerly preparing for Halloween this month by reading all of our creepy classics and spine-chilling tales. Below is an extract from “The Brazilian Cat”, one of many short stories from master of the gothic form Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle drew on his own medical background, his travels, and his increasing interest in spiritualism and the occult for his Gothic Tales. Read on if you dare…
Not many, however, noted that Stranger Things, with its murderous, tentacled creature unleashed through a trans-dimensional portal into a small town by the experiments of a mad professor, owed virtually everything to the imagination of H. P. Lovecraft. He composed these scenarios over eighty years ago in classic stories like ‘The Dunwich Horror’ and ‘The Shadow over Innsmouth’.
At this year’s UKSG conference we asked our librarian delegates to help us build the perfect library by answering one simple question: which one book couldn’t you live without? Whilst the instructions were straightforward – write your chosen title on one of our book stickers and stick it on our bookshelf – the question itself proved challenging for the majority of our exceptionally well-read participants.
Peter Gilliver has been an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary since 1987, and is now one of the Dictionary’s most experienced lexicographers; he has also contributed to several other dictionaries published by OUP. In addition to his lexicographical work, he has been writing and speaking about the history of the OED for over fifteen years. In this two part Q&A, we learn more about how his passion for lexicography inspired him.
Henry Green is renowned for being a “writer’s-writer’s writer” and a “neglected” author. The two, it would seem, go hand in hand, but neither are quite true. This list of reasons to read Henry Green sets out to loosen the inscrutability of the man and his work.