Monday, May 16, 2016

Shakespeare References in Edward: Dancing On The Edge Of Infinity

Bruce Taylor’s odd novel, Edward: Dancing On The Edge Of Infinity, contains several Shakespeare references. Shakespeare is even mentioned in the dedications at the beginning of the book: “Here, world, remember the words of Shakespeare, ‘The world dances in laughter and tears’” (p. 4). I don’t think that’s actually a quote from any of Shakespeare’s works. There is a line from the poet Kabir that reads, “The world of man dances in laughter and tears.”

The book contains a lot of footnotes, and some of the Shakespeare references appear in these footnotes. For example, one footnote reads, in part, “It’s one of those days in Seattle: a nice April day that started off looking like the opening scene in Macbeth, but which has cleared magically as the day has gone on” (p. 70). Another footnote makes a reference to Hamlet: “Alas, Poor Edward!” (p. 80). And actually that footnote contains another footnote, which has a Shakespeare reference: “Who do you think you are? Shakespeare?” (p. 80). Another footnote within a footnote contains references to Shakespeare and specifically to Macbeth. It reads: “I suppose it might be wise to elaborate on this further; Edward did not realize until years (and I do mean years) later, how right Shakespeare was: here today, gone tomorrow. Boo! thought Edward when he realized this. Boo! Hiss! What a bummer! I want my ticket back. Hang the author of this fatalistic play! All this sound and fury signifying nothing? We’re all cosmic cookies that crumble, crumb by crumb with the passage of time? Out, out, brief chocolate chip! But then, Edward thought, once he got past the shock, even if this life is a cookie, made by an idiot, full of ingredients signifying nothing – oh, hell. It’s still edible. And Edward then sat back, metaphysically munched life’s cookie and looked about” (p. 90). Another footnote reads, in part, “A Shakespearean character looking at the sky for the pale threads of fate weaving through the stars!” (p. 125).

But yet, some Shakespeare references are in the main body of the book. For example, Shakespeare appears in one of the many dream sequences in the book. Taylor writes, “William Shakespeare sat on a bench nearby” (p. 96). And then he continues, “He changed again and Edward saw a strange scene: a double sun over a landscape of rock spires set against a maroon sky; and that changed to a strange creature of scaly skin and large blue eyes; and that changed to a moon, and back to Shakespeare again, who looked about, smiled and promptly changed into a cherry tree in bloom” (p. 96). This sequence continues: “Flesrenni pointed to Shakespeare who, by now, was dropping his cherries; as each one dropped, the cherry split open and a miniature Shakespeare, or elephant, or lion, or whatever, emerged. Edward looked back to ask Flesrenni a question. Flesrenni was gone. Edward looked back to Shakespeare; in place of the tree was a candle” (p. 98). And then: “Edward stared into the flame: he saw the world, Shakespeare, animals that had existed before, that existed now, that would exist” (p. 98). That is followed by a reference to Macbeth: “He then saw himself and he heard Flesrenni say, ‘Dance, dance, dance; from sunrise to sunset, this day is yours, even though someday it must fade, yes, yes, out, out brief candle, yes; perhaps it is a tale told by an idiot, but whatever it is, for now it is yours, make of it as you will, let there be magic and dance, dance, dance” (p. 98).

Also in the main body of the story, Taylor writes, “oh, wasn’t Shakespeare right when he said, ‘Cowards die a thousand deaths’” (p. 120). The line is from Julius Caesar, and reads, “Cowards die many times before their deaths.” And then he writes, “His eyes said, ‘Clothes make the man’” (p. 127), a reference to Polonius’ line in Hamlet, “For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” And then Taylor refers to both Julius Caesar and Hamlet when he writes: “‘I come to oppose my opponent, not to praise him. Whether it is better to withstand his slings and arrows of outrageous charges, I cannot to say. But to withstand or not to withstand, that is not the question” (p. 129). The first line refers to Antony’s line from Julius Caesar, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” The rest, of course, refers to lines from Hamlet’s most famous speech.

Edward: Dancing On The Edge Of Infinity was published in 2007.

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