Shakespeare At 40

So, today’s your Shakespeare Geek’s 40th birthday.  Been celebrating on and off for a few days, got (among other, non Shakespeare presents) another Shakespeare action figure as well as the “love quote” pillow which my 5yr old middle daughter had become simply enraptured with when she saw it on a web site back around Christmas.  When I unwrapped it, my older daughter (7) began reading, “Doubt thou the stars are fire…”  so I explained that Hamlet wrote that to Ophelia.  I didn’t get into the whole “ill phrase, vile phrase” thing. Anyway, I got to wondering what Mr. Shakespeare was doing when he was 40.  I found this link: and a few tidbits from the years surrounding:

Sometime between 1599 and 1601 Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, and from Hamlet on, until about 1608 when he began writing the great Romances Cymbeline, Winter’s Tale and The Tempest, Shakespeare’s vision turned to tragedy.  The comedies he produced over the next couple of years are distinctly un-funny, and have been called "problem plays": All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure (both probably written in the period 1603-1604).  Troilus and Cressida (probably written in 1602) is such a problem play that it has perennially confused audiences and critics, and may well  never have been performed in Shakespeare’s life time.  After Measure for Measure Shakespeare’s vision seems to turn unrelentingly to the tragic, with his great string of tragedies Othello (probably 1604), King Lear (probably 1605) Macbeth (probably 1605), Antony and Cleopatra (probably 1607),Coriolanus and Timon of Athens (probably 1606-8).  (These last two plays, along with Troilus and Cressida, surely Shakespeare’s least liked and performed plays).

(Emphasis mine.)  Yikes!  Mid-life crisis, much? If the quality of the blog starts going down, somebody please don’t forget to tag them as “problem posts”.  Just don’t call them “distinctly un-funny” 🙂

4 thoughts on “Shakespeare At 40

  1. Willshill says:

    The big 4-0, huh?

    Birthday Sonnet

    Think not that thou hast fal’n into the Seare,
    The yellow Leafe, the harbinger of Age;
    With eyes cast back upon another Year,
    Yet forward thinke, the time to come Presage.
    Yesterday was but Today, one less,
    Tomorrow is Today, add but one more.
    The Hourglass measures not Happiness,
    When hands of Time close not the open Door.
    And though a simple ‘Rithmetic our Lives
    Be made to Act; happy that Boy made Man,
    That once upon a Yesterday contrives,
    These Tables n’er to master, though he can.
    Tide, Time, the Hour for no man waits,
    Eyes shut, yet forward cast, the Pain abates.
    Happy Birthday Duane

  2. On birthdays, I am always reminded of the satirist, Tom Lehrer’s, line (said when he was 49): “It is a sobering thought to note that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for 10 years.”

  3. Willshill says:

    LOL…wait… did you really get a laugh from me with that? 🙂
    Gore Vidal said something to the effect of: “40…then begins the death watch.”
    An old acting buddy of mine; did quite a bit of major TV… Jeff Mackay…this year…59. Young by today’s measures…or so it’s said.

    We defy Augury. There’s a special Providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now…
    –one of my favorite passages.
    –having said all that…about face!
    Cheers–to all of Us.

  4. Thanks guys!

    A friend of mine also chimed in via email to ask if I felt “besieged” yet, and whether by technicality I could get away with saying it had only been 39 winters so far :).

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