[review + recipe + giveaway] Will’s Words by Jane Sutcliffe and John Shelley

Back in my salad days, I crushed on Will Shakespeare. In high school I swooned over Romeo, in college I hissed at Iago’s villainous schemes, and as a starry-eyed rookie teacher did my best to convince my students that when it came to reading and studying the Bard of Avon, their labours of love were never lost.

I wish there had been a book like Will’s Words (Charlesbridge, 2016) to share with them then. The naysayers who struggled with and questioned the practical value of Shakespeare’s seemingly antiquated language could have seen (much to their amazement), how Will’s words weren’t so archaic or esoteric after all. In fact, many phrases have since become household words, regularly popping up in modern everyday speech. I like to think Will Shakespeare has made poets of us all. 🙂

Author Jane Sutcliffe begins by confessing to the reader that she fully intended to write a book, in her own words, about the Globe Theatre and Shakespeare’s wordsmithing and storytelling genius in penning “the most brilliant and moving plays ever written.” But aye, there’s the rub: no matter how hard she tried, Shakespeare’s words kept bumping into hers — they were simply everywhere and impossible to ignore. So she did the next best thing: wrote a marvelous book cleverly incorporating Will’s colorful turns of phrase in her narrative. As an added treat — since when it comes to Will’s words it’s impossible to have too much of a good thing — she explains what his phrases mean and cites the plays in which they appear.

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hotTEA of the week: daniel craig

“I’ve never really had a desire to do Shakespeare. For me, it’s just too many lines.” ~ Daniel Craig

 

“Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.” ~ the Bard

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happy birthday to the bard!

“Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” ~ Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.


Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, not yet authenticated.

Huzzah, I say, Huzzah!

And, bullyrook, scullion, rampallian, fustilarian! Let me tickle your catastrophe, o trencher-friends!

Lords, Ladies, Cousins and Curs: don your finest cauls, corsets, breeches and brocade! Only your finest jeweled or flowered ruffs will do. If thou hast need for a codpiece, joyfully tie a big one
on — for today is Will Shakespeare’s 445th birthday!

Ay, our most beloved red-haired poet, actor, and dramatist from Stratford-upon-Avon, who gave us 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and several other poems besides, is still the brightest star amongst all the luminaries who ever dared to tarry with the English language. His comedies, tragedies, and histories are still the most widely performed on the planet, and even after centuries of scholarship, speculation, and debate — some details of his life, as well as doubt over his authorship, continue to mystify and enthrall enthusiasts and detractors alike.


Franco Zefferelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” (1968).
photo from EmMe09’s photostream.

I must admit I didn’t truly “get” Shakespeare until I saw the Franco Zefferelli version of “Romeo and Juliet” in high school. I remember swooning over Leonard Whiting, and thinking Olivia Hussey the most beautiful woman ever. For the first time, I really listened to Shakespeare as these actors delivered their lines, and realized how beautiful, varied, complicated, precise, multi-faceted, and glorious the English language really was. For months afterwards, I listened to my R&J record and recited some of the most memorable speeches, imagining myself in “fair Verona, where we lay our scene.”

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just for fun: the beatles do shakespeare

Here’s a little something to get you in the mood for Shakespeare’s birthday tomorrow: a skit based on Midsummer Night’s Dream. How cute is Ringo’s roar?!

friday feast: this lady doth protest too much

"Stage love will never be true love while the law of the land has our heroines played by pipsqueak boys in petticoats."  ~ Viola from Shakespeare in Love

Well, it’s finally happened.

I always thought I was reasonably enlightened when it came to Shakespeare. I studied his plays in high school and college, and once upon a time, I traveled to Stratford-on-Avon to see where he was born. I saw the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Hamlet in England, and even ventured to Verona to gaze at Juliet’s balcony.

But I guess nothing could have prepared me for Shakespeare in drag.

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