Shakespeare Hated Women Because They Gave Him Syphilis

Or so Sir Anthony Sher and Professor Sir Jonathan Bate would suggest, according to this article.

The logic seems to go like this:

There’s a really nasty anti-female diatribe in King Lear.

Perhaps it’s autobiographical? Perhaps Shakespeare had something against women?

Hey you know, in the sonnets he mentions mercury baths, and that’s where people went when you had syphilis.

Yeah, yeah!  And another thing, he wasn’t seen around the king very much, and there was a law that if you had syphilis you couldn’t be anywhere near the king!

They then play connect the dots and suggest that if he had syphilis, he got it from a woman, and therefore had some degree of resentment there.

I think my favorite part of the article (and please take that with a heavy, sarcastic eye roll) is where they mention “Oh yeah, and then there’s that thing where Shakespeare might be gay. Which doesn’t mean that he was anti-women, but, you know, I’m just sayin’.”

So confused.  If you give any credit to the theory that he was gay, then doesn’t that completely destroy everything else you’ve said in the article?  “Shakespeare said misogynistic stuff so maybe he hated women because a woman gave him a venereal disease. Or maybe he was gay, which wouldn’t have anything to do with why he hated women.”  THEN IF YOU THINK HE’S GAY WHY DID HE HATE WOMEN? AND IF YOU DON’T THINK HE’S GAY WHY DID YOU BRING IT UP?

Anybody else pulling their hair out on this one?  Careful though, they say that losing your hair was also a sign of syphilis.

 

~ Leave a comment

Shakespeare Uncovered Returns This Friday

Who’s excited for the return of Shakespeare Uncovered?

WNET’s Shakespeare Uncovered returns to PBS for its third and final season on Friday, October 12!

The series, which covers the fascinating history behind Shakespeare’s greatest plays, will feature six installments hosted by celebrated names such as Helen Hunt, F. Murray Abraham, Romola Garai, Brian Cox, Simon Russell Beale, and Sir Antony Sher.

Each episode will tell the stories behind the stories of Shakespeare’s famous works and will investigate “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “Measure for Measure,” “Julius Caesar,” “The Winter’s Tale,” and “Richard III.” 

The show will air Fridays, October 12-26 on PBS (check local listings) and stream the following day at pbs.org/shakespeareuncovered and on PBS apps.

~ Leave a comment

No, The Other Duke Of Gloucester

A funny thing happened last week that really put the Geek in Shakespeare Geek.

It all started with a Reddit post.  A user wrote that he had a copy of the 1997 Folio Society edition of King Lear, where the text is taken from the 1986 Oxford Shakespeare edition of The Complete Works edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.

Under “The Persons of the Play”, I see “Earl of Gloucester”. I turn the page, and the very first stage direction says “Enter the Earl of Kent, the Duke of Gloucester…”

He is referred to as the Earl of Gloucester only in the list of characters, from what I can tell. Thereafter, he is always referred to as the Duke of Gloucester.

At first, I misunderstood and thought he was saying that Gloucester is always Duke, so it was listing him as Earl on the title page was the mistake.  My error was pointed out to me – Gloucester is never Duke, always Earl – so I offered to get some first-hand input on the situation.

And by first-hand, I meant just go ahead and ask Sir Stanley Wells. Because why not? Twitter’s amazing sometimes.  We follow each other and have corresponded online on some other occasions.

Continue reading “No, The Other Duke Of Gloucester”

~ Leave a comment

Book Review: Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth


Because I do love copying Bardfilm so much, and I saw that he published his review of Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth (for which, as he likes to say, q.v.), not only did I decide to publish mine, but I just went ahead and copy-pasted that ø character from his site instead of trying to figure out how to do it myself.

Seriously, though, I have been reading this one and did plan to review it this week, the timing is a coincidence. (The ø thing is totally real, though.)

This book is part of the Hogarth series of modern novelizations of Shakespeare. The only other one I’d read was Hag-seed (for which, q.v.!  it’s fun to say!) which I’d been told was the best of the bunch, and I didn’t love it.

I think Macbeth is a better book, but at the same time it left me very, “Meh.”

Continue reading “Book Review: Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth”

~ Leave a comment

In The Year 3000

Romeo 3000Here’s a funny story that offers a glimpse into how I find some of the more unusual links I post here.

  • There’s a random Friends episode on in the background. They make a reference to a fictional character who’d performed in a Macbeth movie. They then pin it in time by saying, “They showed the trailer before Jackass.”
  • Well off I go to IMDB to see if there’s any interesting Macbeth adaptations that came out right around a year after Jackass (2001).
  • I find this weird 2003 version that is supposedly set in a surreal fantasy world where reality keeps changing.
  • Random browsing gets me interested in whatever happened to the Romeo and Juliet: The War movie that was supposed to be coming out.
  • It’s still in development so IMDB won’t let me see any details. I go googling and find this Variety article from 2015. There’s a comment on the bottom of that article from a guy named John Schnurr saying, “I just filmed this same plot, please don’t make this movie.”
  • <shrug> Sounds like a unique enough name.  Found him!  I look for Shakespeare credits (amid the pro-wrestling credits, strangely enough).
  • Sure enough, look what I found!  I give you… Romeo 3000.

This looks *so* bad. I don’t mean the acting or the special effects. Got to love everybody rocking the Borg eyepiece, the oddly out of place steampunk villain, and Romeo with the Winter Soldier arm.  Those are all straight out of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (oooo, the irony of making things sound sci-fi by adding 3000 at the end….)

No, I’m talking about the painful “This sounds like Shakespeare” writing. In the trailer alone:

  • “This be the year 3000…”
  • “This be not the story of star-cross’d lovers…”
  • “Romeo be the last of his line.”
  • “Romeo, Romeo, where arst thou Romeo?”

I’ll give them this, it looks like they sure went for it with whatever budget they had.  It’s actually a good trailer, with a nice quality video that shows it wasn’t shot on a potato. The fight scenes look like they could be fun.  Everybody’s acting their damnedest. And there’s some money left over for special effects.

Keep an eye out for the full-length version and report back if you ever get to see it!

 

~ 2 Comments