Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shakespeare Study: The Poems

I'm nearing the end of my three and a half years of Shakespeare study. February 2013 was month #38. This month I read Shakespeare’s poems. This was the order in which I read them:
  1. Venus And Adonis
  2. The Rape Of Lucrece
  3. The Phoenix And The Turtle
  4. The Passionate Pilgrim (including Sonnets To Sundry Notes Of Music, which this Yale book sets as a separate poem)
  5. A Lover’s Complaint (which may or may not have been written by Shakespeare)

Related Book:

- Shakespeare’s Poems And Sonnets  edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom  -  This is a volume in the Bloom’s Major Poets series. It is a collection critical views on a few of the sonnets and poems. The poems discussed in this book are The Phoenix And Turtle, The Rape Of Lucrece and Venus And Adonis. Sometimes the excerpts seem too short, as if we’re getting a taste of a thought, rather than the full thought. Regarding The Phoenix And Turtle, G. Wilson Knight writes, “The Turtle-Dove is a normal Shakespearian symbol of love-constancy, as at I Henry VI, II, ii, 30-1” (page 74). Murray Copland writes, “Shakespeare appears to have called his poem The Phoenix and Turtle. That is, the subject is one thing, not two” (page 76). Regarding The Rape Of Lucrece, Katherine Eisaman Maus writes, “She turns to a representation of the Trojan war for relief, not because it offers her the possibility of consolation, but because its novelty inspires her with new ways to describe and understand, and thus to experience her despair” (page 85). Regarding Venus And Adonis, Richard Lanham writes, “Venus really creates with her own praise the Adonis who can represent beauty. She creates herself with her own praise. She creates the significance of Adonis’s death by her descriptive sorrow. She creates everything. Her eloquence dominates the poem” (page 95). Published in 1999.

I also read the 83-page introduction to the updated edition of The New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of The Poems, edited by John Roe. Roe writes, “Although Shakespeare’s Sonnets were among the first of his poetic compositions, they were the last of his non-dramatic works to be published, and there is evidence that he continued to write them into the 1600s. When they did finally appear in 1609 they were followed in the same volume by a narrative poem entitled A Lover’s Complaint, which the publisher also attributed to Shakespeare. For a long time its authenticity was strongly contested. But recent scholarship has made emphatic advances in favour of its being by Shakespeare, and the poem is now confidently regarded as his. Its date of composition is still under dispute, estimates ranging from the mid-1590s to as late as the year of publication, though a majority prefers the beginning of the 1600s” (page 2).
Regarding Venus And Adonis, Roe write, “It works by contraries, celebrating the principle of erotic pleasure embodied in Venus while countering this with that refinement of spirit expressed in Adonis. Between the two polarities degrees of approximation can be observed. Adonis’s integrity is tempered by his childish petulance over the loss of his horse (325-6); but such chafing and lowering of brows is none the less attractive, as Venus finds. Venus’s voluptuous appeal is qualified by her disingenuousness; yet that aspect of her too finds an answering chord in the reader who is no longer sexually innocent” (page 5). Roe also writes, “To some degree Shakespeare follows the practice of classical authors in observing this contradictory behaviour of a deity: a goddess being still a woman and therefore subject to whim might turn petulant when crossed, acting out of character and even contrary to her own interests. But that does not sufficiently explain the force of Venus’s dire prediction, which issues in a spirit of lament as much as threat, as if she is discovering that things have changed beyond her control. It is not Adonis now but fate that has crossed her, and, understanding this, she declares her new-found opposition to love as much in terms of a submission to destiny as an edict of her own rule” (page 9). Roe also writes, “Venus might be regarded less as a goddess than as a creature from a perfect world who has strayed into a lesser one, and has to adjust to different principles” (page 11).
Regarding The Passionate Pilgrim, Roe writes, “Following the close of number 14 there surprisingly appears a second or supplementary title page, ‘Sonnets to sundry notes of Musicke’…Why this title page exists where it does is a mystery. According to Willoughby it was intended ‘to enable the latter portion of the work to be sold separately should the sale prove slow’ (p.50). Adams (pp. xxxv-xxxvi) thinks that its presence has more to do with Jaggard’s wish to appease Shakespeare, who may have proved difficult over the printing of some of his poems without his consent as well as the attribution to him of several more which he certainly did not write. Plausible as this conjecture is, it ignore Jaggard’s apparent repetition of the offence in 1612” (page 54). And then, “The ‘sonnets’ following the supplementary title page, while formally different, claim to be sonnets none the less; and the inclusion among this second group of number 16 contradicts Adams’s theory that Jaggard was trying to square things with Shakespeare by not attributing all the poems to him” (page 57).
Regarding A Lover’s Complaint, Roe writes, “Whereas the diction of A Lover’s Complaint does not occur in the plays it seems not to appear in the work of any contemporary either, which supports the argument that here as elsewhere Shakespeare is adding to his considerable vocabulary” (page 61). Roe also writes, “Whatever reservations we may entertain about the poem’s artistic success (and there are a number of those), there is no doubt as to the compelling nature of its theme: a seducer who openly displays his moral weakness, excusing his powers of attraction as if he himself were their victim rather than those whom he ensnares in his ‘craft of will’” (page 65).
This book was first published in 1992. This updated edition was published in 2006.

Other Shakespeare Book:

- Shakespeare  by Michael Wood  -  This biography of William Shakespeare focuses a lot on events of the time, and how those events and surroundings shaped him as an artist. It aslo includes several maps of London and Stratford-upon-Avon. Wood writes, “Unlike the works of most of his urban or university-educated contemporaries, Shakespeare’s plays are full of images of flowers, trees and animals. His linguistic roots are here too – not in the more socially acceptable speech of London or the court” (page 17).  Regarding The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Wood writes, “A seventeenth-century story claims that Queen Elizabeth herself had requested ‘one more play’ about Falstaff, this time showing him in love; Shakespeare, it is said, dashed off the piece in two weeks. But new evidence suggests that Merry Wives cannot have been written until much later, after Henry V (1599), in which Falstaff dies. This clearly disappointed his many fans, including, it seems, the queen herself. It is now thought that the masque at the end of Merry Wives was the show performed to celebrate the election of new Knights of the Garter (including the new Lord Hunsdon) on 23 April 1597. It was only subsequently (at the queen’s request?), with the typical economy of a professional writer, that Shakespeare expanded it into a full-length play” (pages 208-209). Regarding other plays attributed to Shakespeare, Wood writes, “But among the plays performed then by the King’s Men are some that, intriguingly, were printed at that time with Shakespeare’s byline: The London Prodigal of 1605 and A Yorkshire Tragedy of 1608. The popular tragi-comedy The Merry Devil Of Edmonton was later also credited to him” (page 292).  Regarding the May 1606 Act of Parliament to “Restrain the Abuses of Players,” Wood writes, “What Shakespeare and his colleagues feared is revealed by a comparison of the Quarto of Othello, which is thought to be a pre-1606 text, and the revised Folio text, published after his death. The first version contains more than fifty oaths and profanities, especially in the racist misogynist rants of Iago; the Folio text has none. The oaths are mainly old English ones using the name of God, such as ‘Zouns’ (God’s wounds) and ‘Sblood’ (God’s blood), although the fact that ‘Tush’ is dropped from the play’s opening line suggests the company were jumpy about what might be thought profane” (page 293). Published in 2003.
(Next month is the sonnets.)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Shakespeare References in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Spell

Alan Hollinghurst’s 1998 novel The Spell has several references to Shakespeare. The first is in a description of one of the book’s minor characters: “Terry was a local factotum and Romeo, with a family interest in the Broad Down caravan park, a famous eyesore on the other side of Bridport, as well as a vaguer association with the pretentious Bride Mill Hotel” (page 47).

The second is a reference to Hamlet: “‘I don’t know what I’m turning into,’ Alex said. ‘“ We know what we are but not what we may be”: Ophelia.’” This is a reference to Ophelia’s line in Act IV Scene i: “Lord! we know what we are, but know not what we may be.” And then another character, Hugh, responds, “‘Well, look what happened to her’” (page 108).

The third is a reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “A yellow quarter-moon had appeared between the beautiful tall crocketed finials of the church tower. Margery said, ‘I suppose it’s all a sort of Midsummer Night’s Dream’” (page 122). Hollinghurst then continues: “Mike wasn’t having this. ‘It is not a Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ he said. ‘People are always getting this wrong. Yesterday was the longest day, the 21st. That’s a fact, an astronomical fact. Midsummer Day, which is an ancient pagan festival, is on the 24th. Tomorrow, if you must, is Midsummer Eve.’ He shook his head furiously. ‘Today is nothing, absolutely nothing’” (page 122).

The fourth reference is to Shakespeare himself: “There was also an R. Swinburne, which Tony said people wanted to believe was A. Swinburne having trouble with his stylus; and a Wm Shakspere, facetiously introduced by Tony’s grandfather when he was a boy” (pages 177-178).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shakespeare Study: The Tempest (Part 1: Books)

I'm nearing the end of my 3 1/2 years of Shakespeare study. I've been reading one play each month, and then reading as many related books as I can, and watching as many film versions as I'm able to get my hands on. January 2013 was month number 37. And the play this month was The Tempest. (Now I just have the poems and sonnets, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and some miscellaneous stuff to read.)

There were quite a lot of books and films this month, so I've divided this into two blog entries. This one deals only with the books - books of criticism, children's books, and novel adaptations. The second blog entry details the various film versions that I've watched.

Related Books:

- William Shakespeare’s The Tempest  edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom  -  This is a volume in the Modern Critical Interpretations series, and is a new edition. It presents criticism on the play by several writers, including Kenneth Muir, Northrop Frye, Tom McAlindon and others. Kenneth Muir writes, “Secondly, it is important that Prospero should be played not calm of mind, all passion spent, but one who has brooded for twelve years on his brother’s treachery, the memory of which still rankles. He is an angry old man, whose rage is precipitated by his memories of the past. He is moreover one who neglected his duties as a ruler and thereby opened the door to his brother’s treachery, so that his violent speeches about Antonio are animated partly by a desire to excuse himself” (page 7). Later Muir writes, “At least we can say that Ariel, at some moments, represents the poetic imagination, and his desire for freedom is said to reflect Shakespeare’s wish to retire, though about this we may well have doubts” (page 8). John G. Demaray writes, “Throughout The Tempest, it is precisely the element of fire, with its power to cause the heat of burning desire, that Prospero seeks to keep at a distance from cool and chaste Miranda” (page 47). Then, regarding Ariel’s line about the “sixt hour” from Act V, Demaray writes, “According to all four Gospel accounts, it was at the sixth hour that, as Christ hung crucified on the Cross, darkness came over the earth and the graves gave up their dead” (page 50). Tom McAlindon writes, “In the opening scene, the word ‘plague’ in the boatswain’s outburst, ‘A plague upon this howling’ (i.e., the cries of the courtiers) is followed in the Folio by a long dash; this must have replaced a blasphemous oath or string of oaths which was heard on stage (I.i.35). The boatswain is immediately condemned as a ‘blasphemous, incharitable dog,’ an ‘insolent noisemaker’ (I.i.39-43); and when he reappears in the last scene in a dumbstruck condition he is greeting ironically as a loud-mouthed blasphemer chastened by experience” (pages 62-63). B.J. Sokol writes, regarding incest in Shakespeare’s last plays, “Therefore I think incestuous wishes may be powerfully represented in The Tempest, in a negative form, when Prospero expresses his absolute disgust at the sexual attempt on Miranda by her foster-brother Caliban. This fury, joined with Prospero’s general scorn for physicality, combine to silence any deviant desires of his own. Thus the play, I think, represents a skillful ploy of denial, and in Prospero’s hatred of lustful Caliban represents psychological projection” (page 98). Paul Yachnin writes, regarding Prospero’s books, “Since they are objects of great emotional investment, the source of Prospero’s supernatural powers, and among the primary agents of the dramatic action (they distracted Prospero from his duties as Duke of Milan, which led to his ouster), it is striking that the play-text does not call for the onstage appearance of a single volume” (page 116). Peter Holbrook writes, “The play explores the notion of self-government throughout; and appreciating the centrality of this theme helps us understand an initially puzzling episode, Prospero’s lecturing Ferdinand and Miranda on the importance of pre-marital chastity. The speech seems boringly neurotic; and the scene as a whole can appear superfluous. Actually both are fundamental to the play’s intellectual structure. Prospero’s emphasis on the importance of Ferdinand’s preserving Miranda’s ‘virgin-knot’ (IV.i.15) until marriage is part of Shakespeare’s meditation on the connection between the passions and tyranny” (page 159). Published in 2011.

- William Shakespeare’s The Tempest  adapted by Daniel Conner; illustrated by Cynthia Martin  -  This is a volume in the Graphic Shakespeare series. Like other books in this series, it is very short, and so contains not much more than an outline of the play. Prospero does not mention how his books distracted him when he was Duke, nor how Gonzalo provided him with his books on the boat. Ariel is presented as a green, glowing pixie, and is female in this version. Caliban looks like a demonic ogre. Caliban does not mention how Prospero taught him language. As soon as Stephano approaches, Caliban gets up and moves away, so Stephano’s line about “four legs” makes no sense. And Trinculo is standing before him when Stephano says “Four legs and two voices.” Again, that doesn’t make sense. The creators of this book clearly do not understand this scene. Prospero’s famous speech from Act IV is completely cut, though a line from it is included in the list of “Famous Phrases” at the end of the book. Also, in Act V, there is a weird mistake. Alonso’s lines, “A most strange story. Thy dukedom I resign and do entreat thou pardon me my wrongs,” are assigned to Prospero. That’s a big error, and will confuse anyone not already familiar with the play. Miranda’s famous lines (including “O brave new world”) are cut (though again, a line is included at the end under “Famous Phrases”). A portion of the epilogue is included. Published in 2009.

- The Tempest For Kids by Lois Burdett  -  This book is a volume in the Shakespeare Can be Fun series, a series aimed at getting children interested in Shakespeare. The book is written in rhyming couplets and is illustrated by children. There are also short bits written by children. It begins with Shakespeare sitting down to write The Tempest. It seems from the illustrations that most kids think that Ariel is female, though the author indicates he’s male (as in the lines, “Ariel was filled with joy and despair,/He and his master had been such a pair,” page 61). This adaptation still retains some of Prospero’s famous speech: “Be cheerful. Our revels now are ended./These our actors, are melted into air,/And, like the baseless fabric of this vision rare,/The great globe itself shall one day be gone./We are such stuff as dreams are made on,/And our little life is rounded with a sleep./Bear with my weakness. Come, do not weep” (page 51). Also, the “brave new world” line is kept. In this adaptation, Prospero actually throws his books into the ocean: “Then he cast his treasured books into the sea,/And for the first time, he too was free” (page 62). Published in 1999.

-  Williams Shakespeare’s The Tempest  adapted by Marianna Mayer; illustrated by Lynn Bywaters 
- This is a beautifully illustrated children’s book, adapting the story of The Tempest. The first illustration is of Prospero and Miranda in their little boat, with the island in the distance. In this version, Prospero tells Miranda he will “finally extract revenge upon these villains” when explaining who he and she really are. (Revenge is mentioned again later – “his all-consuming desire for revenge.”) Then the author writes, “Prospero left his daughter and went at once to speak with his servant,” rather than Prospero using magic to make her sleep. An odd choice.  Ariel seems female in the artwork. Prospero says he’ll free Ariel without Ariel reminding him of his promise. Caliban is green and resembles an ogre. The plot to kill Alonso is completely cut from this adaptation. Sebastian is not even a character in this version. Gonzalo is also cut, though at the beginning he is referred to in the line, “But a loyal friend of Prospero had hidden a bundle of provisions and precious books on the magic arts inside the hull of the boat.” In this version, Antonio makes amends in lines that have no equivalent in the play – “Then Antonio, with tears in his eyes, implored his brother’s forgiveness. ‘I promise to restore your dukedom to you and if another attempts to take what is yours, I will lay down my life to protect it.’” Also, in this version Ceres, Iris and Juno arrive to celebrate the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda after Prospero has forgiven Antonio and Alonso, so those two are present at the celebration. At the end there is a bit about Prospero after he has left the island. Published in 2005.

- The Tempest  edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom  -  This is a volume in the Bloom’s Shakespeare Through The Ages series, and includes criticism from the seventeenth century all the way up to the twenty-first century. The volume editor is Neil Heims. In the section on key passages: “Scene 1 seemed to be a representation of an actual shipwreck. But it actually is the representation of a representation of a shipwreck” (page 13). In the introduction to the chapter on the seventeenth century: “In June 1609, a fleet of nine ships with some 500 colonists set out from Plymouth, England, for Jamestown, Virginia. Around Bermuda, the lead ship, Sea Venture, was separated from the rest of the fleet by a storm. The other ships safely reached the port of Jamestown in the summer of 1609, but not the Sea Venture. Its crew and passengers, including the admiral and the governor-to-be of the colony, were presumed dead. Then on May 23, 1610, nearly a year later, the passengers from the wrecked ship arrived in Jamestown. They had managed to survive on the island they had been cast upon and had even built two seaworthy ships” (page 31). From the introduction to the chapter on the nineteenth century: “The idea of identifying Prospero with Shakespeare was first presented by a Scottish poet and critic named Thomas Campbell in 1838, when he said, ‘Shakespeare, as if conscious that [The Tempest] would be his last [play], and as if inspired to typify himself, has made its hero a natural, dignified, and benevolent magician, who could conjure up spirits…Shakespeare himself is Prospero, or rather a superior genius who commands both Prospero and Ariel’” (pages 71-72). Samuel Taylor Coleridge (in 1811-1812) wrote, about Miranda’s line “Who had, no doubt, some noble creatures in her,” “The doubt here intimated could have occurred to no mind but to that of Miranda, who had been bred up in the island with her father and a monster only: she did not know, as others do, what sort of creatures were in a ship; others never would have introduced it as a conjecture” (page 76). E.M.W. Tillyard (in 1938) wrote, “If he had seriously intended vengeance, why should he have stopped Sebastian and Antonio murdering Alonso? That he did stop them is proof of his already achieved regeneration from vengeance to mercy” (page 135). Northrop Frye (in 1959) wrote, “Of the others Caliban says, probably with some truth, ‘They all do hate him/As rootedly as I.’ The nervous strain of dealing with such creatures shows up in Prospero’s relations with human beings too; and in his tormenting of Caliban, in his lame excuse for making Ferdinand’s wooing ‘uneasy,’ in his fussing over protecting Miranda from her obviously honorable lover, there is a touch of the busybody” (page 190). A little later in the same piece, Frye wrote, “In this island the quality of one’s dreaming is an index of character. When Antonio and Sebastian remain awake plotting murder, they show that they are the real dreamers, sunk in the hallucinations of greed” (page 191). Published in 2008.

- Ariel  by Grace Tiffany  -  This novel, aimed at teenagers, is a re-telling of The Tempest with a focus on the character Ariel. The author takes a lot of liberties with Shakespeare’s play, the first being a change of Ariel’s gender to female. This version also makes many references to Christian mythology, which are off-putting (lots of mentioning of Christ and the Virgin Mary). Most of this novel takes place before the events of the play. It begins with Ariel’s beginning: “She jumped from the head of a luckless sailor, who was blown across the Atlantic in the fifty-eighth Year of Our Lord” (page 1). Dying on the shore, the sailor (named Jasper) dreams up Ariel. Ariel is then powerful enough to create other spirits, but finds a barrier on the island which she cannot pass. The story then recounts the tale of Sycorax, pregnant, arriving on the island. Sycorax becomes angry with Ariel, for Ariel doesn’t want to help with the birth. So Sycorax yells out to her god Setebos, “Curse this worthless sprite who lies! Give her a body so she knows the feel of it!” (page 39). Ariel is given the body of an insect and trapped within a tree. Sycorax forbids her son Caliban from touching that one tree, which of course makes him curious about it. Caliban gives water with berries in it to the spirit of the tree (That, of course, is a reference to Caliban’s line to Prospero in Act I Scene ii of the play: “When thou cam’st first,/Thou strok’st me and made much of me, wouldst give me/Water with berries in ‘t”). This book removes nearly all of the magic from Shakespeare’s play. For example, Ariel tells Caliban that Sycorax is a witch, that she casts spells, but Sycorax isn’t a witch at all. Ariel turns Caliban against his mother, even telling him that she is not his real mother. Sycorax dies from eating poison filberts Caliban had gathered. Caliban then turns on Ariel. There is also some mysterious drumming heard occasionally from the other side of the island.
And then Prospero and Miranda arrive. In this version Antonio took not only Prospero’s dukedom, but also his wife. Prospero frees Ariel by burning the tree. Ariel makes Miranda sleep, to which Prospero responds, “I can see you are a spirit to be reckoned with, Ariel. Yet I must not worship you. That would be idolatry” (page 98). (That’s just one example of the Christian nonsense that is throughout the book.) So instead of worshiping her, he makes her his servant (No, that doesn’t quite make sense). Caliban emerges from the forest, burned. Plus, since his mother’s death, he’s grown wild. So he appears a monster rather than human. However, in this version Caliban and Miranda play together. The “brave new world” line is spoken twice, the first time by Prospero to Ariel: “Ah, there are fine folk there for you to charm, my chick! A brave new world!” (page 125). Prospero talks about his revenge on Antonio. And, though he’s been on the island for years, he knows about the marriage plans for Alonso’s daughter. In this adaptation, Miranda kisses Caliban, and Ariel makes Prospero think he’s seeing Caliban attempting to rape her. Obviously, this is quite a departure from the play. Miranda later sneaks behind Prospero’s back to visit Caliban. Another change is that Caliban offers to fetch wood, and Prospero tells him, “There’s wood enough within” (page 142).
Chapter 13 is titled “The Tempest,” and it’s then that we finally reach the events of the play. Ariel uses magic to make Miranda appear more attractive to Ferdinand, and then makes Ferdinand more attractive to Miranda, which of course takes true love out of the equation. Prospero requires Ferdinand to give him a written statement declaring his intention to marry Miranda, which is odd. Prospero has selfish motives – the riches that will come with a royal wedding, rather than his daughter’s welfare. By the way, a large number of the play’s characters are cut, including Sebastian, Adrian, Francisco, Trinculo and Stephano. The banquet table appears almost immediately, and also Ariel says the line, “Were I human, I would pity them” (page 179). Prospero responds, “But you are not human,” which again is a big change from the play. Because Sebastian is cut, Ariel saying “You three from Milan did supplant good Prospero” (page 180) doesn’t make sense. For now it includes Gonzalo.
This novel really starts to forget the play toward the end, when suddenly it is revealed that Prospero was not a duke at all, but a farmer. And that he and Miranda got in the little boat on their own accord. (Yes, this is seriously stupid.) He calls himself, “Only a very bad farmer, who owns too many books” (page 205). And Prospero’s wife, Althea, did not run off with Antonio, but waits for him. Prospero tells Antonio, “I began to forget what had happened, what had really happened. I began to think you were the villain, and had set us adrift” (page 211). So it was all in Prospero’s mind.  Ugh. Prospero does say, “But our revels now are ended” (page 200), but does not continue that speech. He even apologizes to Caliban for treating him like a slave. The book becomes more and more absurd, as Miranda ends up with Caliban, partially because she beat him in a burping contest (I’m not kidding). Miranda says, “Oh, brave new world” (page 222) when she sees the sailors. Prospero buries his books and breaks his staff. He then prays to God (that is, the Christian god) to give him enough magic to make Ariel sleep. And then at the end it turns out the island was America. So the drumming was by Indians. And Christobal Colon arrives. No explanation on the weird barrier that kept Ariel from investigating further.  
As a side note, Grace Tiffany makes a few references to other works of Shakespeare in this novel. For example, she has Prospero tell the young Miranda: "On this beach, little Miranda, we are safe from the various animals that might take it into their heads to chase and munch us in the darkness. Loping monsters, and depraved unicorns, and - who knows? - the dread anthropophagi, perhaps, who eat their dead, or the men whose heads grow beneath their shoulders" (page 80). That is a reference to Act I Scene iii of Othello, when Othello says, "And of the Cannibals that each other eat,/The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads/Do grow beneath their shoulders." There is also a reference to Hamlet, when Ariel tells Prospero, "Sleep will restore you. Perchance you should dream" (page 186). That is a reference to a line from Hamlet's famous speech: "To sleep? perchance to dream" (from Act III Scene i).

- Understanding The Tempest: A Student Casebook To Issues, Sources, And Historical Documents  by Faith Nostbakken  -  This is a volume in The Greenwood Press “Literature In Context” Series. It’s not particularly well written, but does include excerpts from interesting, related documents, including portions of the Bermuda pamplets, recounting the wreck of the Sea-Venture. Though toward the end, the author also includes excerpts from fantasy novels. Author Faith Nostbakken writes, “The word ‘romance’ was first used for plays such as The Tempest by literary scholar Edward Dowden in 1877, more than 250 years after Shakespeare wrote his final plays…But ‘romance’ was by no means a new term, being based on a tradition of romantic literature that existed as far back as in ancient Greece” (page 4). Nostbakken writes, “The first scene, for example, is characterized almost entirely by prose, even when court characters such as Gonzalo speak. This is a deliberate departure from convention to suggest that the storm is a social leveler treating everyone equally, from the common boatswain to the royal characters who travel with him” (page 11).  Regarding Prospero’s intentions, Nostbakken writes, “But although the goal is not punishment, Prospero is certainly capable of it. The goal is not even simply guilt or regret but rather the right frame of mind for the wrongdoers to receive his pardon, which, when he has brought all the company together, he generously offers. His forgiveness is what makes possible the union of Miranda and Ferdinand and the promise of a new generation to bring hope for the future” (page 19).  Regarding Miranda’s famous line: “Miranda’s remark, ‘O brave new world/That has such people in’t’ (5.1.183-184) alerts audiences to the New World overseas” (page 25). Regarding the end of the play, Nostbakken writes, “Antonio and Sebastian never show remorse, however, for their part in the past treason and the attempted regicide on stage. Their silence leaves somewhat open-ended the sense of peace and reconciliation, suggesting that this particular power struggle may be over but that the power hungry never completely disappear nor find appeasement on the political scene. Moreover, Prospero’s suitability as an effective and astute political leader remains questionable from his comments at the beginning and the end of the play” (page 82). Regarding an early adaptation of the play, Nostbakken writes, “William Davenant, with assistance from John Dryden, composed The Tempest; or the Enchanted Island for its first performance on November 7, 1667. They used less than a third of Shakespeare’s original text, diminishing Prospero’s role substantially, making him both less powerful and more repressive as the governor of the island. Other roles were added. Miranda was given a younger sister, Dorinda, while Caliban gained a twin sister Sycorax. Prospero maintained a young man under his protection, Hippolito. Ariel received a companion, a female spirit named Milcha” (page 134). Regarding the portrayal of Caliban: “Darwin believed that humans evolved from an aquatic animal, and so Shakespeare’s fishlike references to Caliban only helped to confirm in the minds of stage producers that this strange creature of The Tempest was what one critic referred to as the ‘missing link’ in human development from animal predecessors. One of the most famous players of Caliban, Frank Benson, spent hours in a zoo observing the movements of monkeys so as to imitate their behavior in his role, played in 1891” (page 135). Published in 2004.

- The Storm  by Frederick Buechner  -  This novel is a loose adaptation of The Tempest. It actually opens with a passage from the play: “Come unto these yellow sands,/And then take hands:/Curtsied when you have, and kiss’d,/The wild waves whist…” Those lines are sung by Ariel in Act I Scene ii. This novel also has a reference to King Lear: “As Kenzie sat there doing the best he could not to make them clam up by trying too hard to draw out their stories and letting them know what the Alodians could offer in the way of shelter, food, and professional help if they were sick or pregnant or addicted, he thought often of the lines in which King Lear says, ‘Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,/That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,/How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,/Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you/From seasons such as these?’ He never forgot how once when he had used them in one of his readings at the Apollonian, some octogenarian had risen unsteadily to his feet and interrupted him with Lear’s answer to his own question. ‘Take physic, pomp,’ the old man had shrilled as though it was Kenzie himself he was admonishing, ‘Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,/That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,/And show the heavens more just’” (pages 13-14). In this novel, Kenzie is the Prospero character; Gabrielle (who goes by Bree) is the Miranda character; Calvert is Caliban (“the whole island was rightfully his,” page 37); Averill is Ariel (“the water sprite and mystic,” page 41); Nandy Maxwell is Ferdinand (“They called him Ferdinando,” page 85); and Dalton is sort of a combination of Alonso and Antonio, in that he is Kenzie’s brother, but also Nandy’s father. In a sort of reversal of the play, Kenzie seems to have the power to stop a storm: “…standing there barefoot on the grass with his wet, tousled hair in his eyes, he raised his arms over his head and looked toward where the lightning flickered on the horizon. He said, ‘Rain, rain, go away, little Willow wants to play.’” And then: “As suddenly as they had appeared, the clouds started to thin” (page 81). The big storm of the story doesn’t occur until toward the end of the book, and when it does, Willow asks Kenzie, “Is this your revenge, Kenzie?” She adds, “If you can keep bad weather away, I suppose you can make it happen too” (page 155). Like in the play, Dalton and Nandy each thinks he sees the other drown, though both arrive safely on shore. Calvert speaks lines similar to Caliban’s: “’This island is always full of weird noises,’ Calvert said. ‘There’s been times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night when there wasn’t a breath of air stirring and could have sworn I heard fiddles or somebody plucking on a harp or God only knows what. But I’m used to it’” (page 182). (Those lines, of course, aren’t nearly as good as Caliban’s from Act III Scene ii.) The novel also includes a variation of Prospero’s famous speech from Act IV: “It makes you wonder if we only dreamed up the whole business – not just the storm but this whole implausible little island, maybe the great globe itself… Such revelry!” (page 184). Published in 1998.

- The Sea And The Mirror: A Commentary on Shakespeare’s The Tempest  by W.H. Auden; edited by Arthur Kirsch  -  This poem begins at the end of a performance of The Tempest. The second chapter of the poem has verses spoken by each of the play’s characters. The third chapter is titled “Caliban to the Audience.” This poem was written in the years 1942-1944, and first published in 1944. This edition incorporates corrections that Auden made on the galleys of the first edition. Published in 2003.