Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shakespeare References in Writer's Digest, Part 2

I'm still going through old copies of Writer's Digest (I have a lot of stuff), and found more references to Shakespeare.

In the July 1988 issue, in an article titled "Lying Down On The Job: 5 Tips For Capturing And Using Your Dreams," J. Kevin Wolfe wrote, as one of the tips, "Wake yourself in the middle of the night to help capture dreams. Set your alarm for 3 one night, 5 another, and 4 another. After a few tries, you're bound to wake during REM sleep. (Getting marital grief in the wee hours? Explain that Shakespeare used to set his digital alarm for 3 a.m. while working on Macbeth. Drowsy people are usually gullible)" (page 52). 

In the September 1988 issue Lawrence Block wrote an article about some of the prejudice folks have regarding genre fiction. In it he wrote, "Hamlet is a detective story, Les Miserables and Crime and Punishment are crime fiction, but because these works are Literature they are no longer considered mysteries" (page 60).

The May 1989 issue has several Shakespeare references. The first is in the section titled "The Writing Life." Richard Lederer wrote, "For centuries our greatest poets and orators have recognized and employed the power of the monosyllable. Nobody used the short word better than William Shakespeare, who had his dying King Lear lament: 'And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no, no life!/Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,/And thou no breath at all?.../Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips/Look there, look there!'" (page 9).

The second is in an article titled "A Sense Of Humor: Light Verse And Serious Poetry Can - And Should - Mingle Comfortably." Judson Jerome wrote, "Wit is simply the sharpest ingredient of intelligence, and it appears at the most intense moments. Claudius refers to Hamlet as his son, and Hamlet instantly replies, 'I am too much in the sun.' Lady Macbeth, returning to the room where murdered Duncan lies with two sleep grooms, plans to smear Duncan's blood on the servants: 'I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal,/For it must seem their guilt.' These puns do not make us laugh, but they illuminate emotional reality with the harsh light of acumen" (page 10).

The third, in an article's title, refers to that famous soliloquy by Hamlet: "To Buy or Not to Buy: Should You Invest In The Writing Tool That Shakespeare Never Dreamed Of?" (page 22).  That article is about purchasing word processors and computers, and was written by Ronald John Donovan.

David Petersen took the title for his article on titles from Shakespeare: "What's in a Title?" Toward the end of the article, he commented on that: "I relied on a Shakespeare phrase for the title of this piece, confident that my slight twist on the Bard's famous line 'What's in a name?' would ring familiar. I considered using 'O, that I had a title good enough'; 'O, how that name befits my composition!'; and 'What you will have it named, even that it is,' but decided those were too esoteric even for a highly literate audience" (page 38). (By the way, regarding the other possible titles, the first comes from Act III Scene i of The Merchant Of Venice; the second comes from Act II Scene i of Richard The Second; and the third comes from Act IV Scene iii of The Taming Of The Shrew.)

Referring to that same line Petersen used, Chris Dodd wrote, in his article on query letters in that same issue, "To rephrase Shakespeare, what is in a query?" (page 50).

And then finally, in a piece titled "This Article Was Written With The Right Side Of The Brain...Even Though It Was Typed With Both Sides Of The Keyboard," Lance Contrucci wrote, "New words enter our language every day, so I'm confident that my proposal will catch on with the public at large. As far as I can tell, the only hard part will be in referring to all of the 'writers' of the past (Shakespeare, Keats, Tolstoy, etc.) as 'penitents'" (page 78). Contrucci had written earlier in the piece that writers who use the right side of the brain should be called "penitents" and writers who use the left side of the brain should be called "paywrights." He then provided a worksheet so that readers could test themselves. One of the questions is, "How would you complete the following sentence: 'Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May...'" And the choices were: "a. '...And summer's lease hath all too short a date'" and "b. '...due primarily to a cold front moving in from the ocean that's only supposed to last a few days'" (page 78).  Those lines are from Sonnet 18 (the one that begins "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?").

The October 1989 issue has a few Shakespeare references. John Gardner wrote a piece titled, "Of My Books, James Bond's Books, And The Accumulation Of Knowledge," and in it he wrote, "People ask how I research, having never truly lived within the secret world of security and intelligence - except for one incident in the early 1960s when I smuggled uncensored letters from Moscow to London for members of the Royal Shakespeare Company; but that, as they say, is a long story" (page 18). (I am, of course, curious about that long story.)

That issue also contains a cartoon related to Hamlet on page 57.  And finally, in a piece titled "In Flight With Rocket J. Squirrel" by Lloyd Turner, Turner wrote, "Hoppity was a frog with two buddies - a fox named Uncle Waldo (with the Shakespearean voice of Hans Conried), and a great big bear named Fillmore with the mind of a child who didn't understand much but sometimes displayed a flash of brilliance" (page 70).

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