Courtly Shakespeare

Michael Dobson notes ( Shakespeare: An Illustrated Stage History ) that the restoration of drama in 1660 was not really a restoration but a re-creation, involving “a transformation of the London theatre, carried out by royal warrant” tht “forever altered the relationship between . . . . Continue Reading »

Elegant dress

In his Theory of the Leisure Class , Thorstein Veblen notes that it is good if it shows that “the wearer can afford to consumer freely and uneconomically,” but beyond that should “make plain to all observers that the wearer is not engaged in any kind of productive labor.” . . . . Continue Reading »

Bowdlerized Shakespeare

In the Edinburgh Review notice regarding the publication of Bowdler’s Family Shakespeare (1821-22), Francis Jeffrey, Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, praised the edition for meeting the needs of decent people everywhere: “Now it is quite undeniable, that there have been many . . . . Continue Reading »

The Good Old Days…

when the theater was taken seriously. Douglas Lanier writes, “On may 7 [1849] Edwin Forrest and William Macready, long-time Shakespearian rivals, mounted competing productions of Macbeth in New York City, Forrest at the Broadway Theater, Macready at the Astor Place Opera House. Forrest, an . . . . Continue Reading »

Table Manners and Individualism

Elias notes that table manners reflect social relations more generally: “People who ate together in the way customary in the Middle Ages, taking meat with their fingers from the same dish, wine from the same goblet, soup from the same pot or the same plate . . . - such people stood in a . . . . Continue Reading »

The Blasphemous Fork

Elias again: “In the eleventh century a Venetian doge married a Greek princess. In her Byzantine circle the fork was clearly in use. At any rate, we hear that she lifted food to her mouth ‘by means of little gold forks with two prongs.’ “This gave rise in Venice to a . . . . Continue Reading »

Middle Class Counter-Enlightenment

Elias suggests that the blossoming of German literature in the late 18th century was largely led by middle-class writers and thinkers whose tastes and styles ran directly counter to the Francophile culture of Frederick’s court: “This German literary movement, whose exponents included . . . . Continue Reading »

Barbarous Shakespeare

A couple of weeks ago, I quoted Frederick the Great’s judgment that Shakespeare’s plays were fit only for “savages of Canada,” what with their “jumble of lowliness and grandeur, of buffoonery and tragedy,” their sins “against all the rules of the theatre, . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon notes

INTRODUCTION John’s gospel is about the character of God: He proclaims that God is light, and has no darkness at all (1:5). This gospel comes with the demand to walk in the light (1:6). What does that mean? THE TEXT “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, . . . . Continue Reading »