grinning_soul: detail of "The Young Queen and the Page" by Maxwell Armfield, 1904 (O RLY?)

Roland Emmerich's Anonymous is causing a lot of handwringing from Shakespeare fans because it's trying to pass off a crazy conspiracy theory (aka the Oxford Theory) as fact. The idea of Shakespeare as fraud doesn't really bother me as long as it makes for a good movie, but this is just very disappointing (slight spoilers):

"The film’s celebration of incest precludes a celebration of the homoerotic, unless Oxford should engage in sexual relations with his own son alias grandson Southampton. The homoerotic is authentically suggested by the personalities of Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, the earl of Oxford, the Earl of Southampton, King James, the use all-male acting troupes, and a great deal of the best literature of the age, including Shakespeare’s second dedicatory address to the Earl of Southampton (in The Rape of Lucrece) and possibly some of his sonnets. Where is the homoerotic in the film? Nowhere, except for a few smutty gestures, as when Nashe (?) puts his hand on Dekker’s (?) knee."

How can you put Shakespeare, Marlowe and Southampton in a movie and ignore the homoeroticism. Oh, the missed opportunities! FAIL! (Plus: implicit Sonnets!Fail)

Read the whole review here: Blogging Shakespeare
grinning_soul: (cheshire geek)

I'm reading Alan Sinfield's Shakespeare, Authority, Sexuality (2006) which, among other things, discusses queer readings of Shakespeare's plays and poems. In the first chapter, Sinfield discusses what he calls "dissident readings" and, boy, the whole process is so reminiscent of writing/reading fan fiction (esp. slash) that I just have to share some excerpts and my preliminary ramblings:

"These days it will be widely agreed that the Antonio characters in The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night are in love with Bassiano and Sebastian respectively. Their love objects are both of a higher social class and rather full of themselves; while they return the love of their Antonios, it is not with such an overwhelming passion. Interestingly, this is the scenario also of Shakespeare's sonnets. The main tendency in the plot of the two plays is to get all the good characters into marriageable pairs, so that they can join in a symmetrical procession around the stage and take their final bows together. The Antonios, it seems, are left out. No one is queer bashing; they just don't fit.
Now suppose, as a gay critic, I point out that Portia and Olivia maintain extensive households, in which all manner of kin and friends might be accomodated in varying degrees of intimacy and dependency [...]. I might add that there is no authoritative stage direction governing how characters will leave the stage [yay, canon loophole!]. Suppose I declare that Bassiano should exit hand in hand with both Portia and Antonio, and that Sebastian should be flanked by both Olivia and Antonio. The idea is, in fact, quite fertile: consider why such an arrangement is more likely to suit Olivia (who loves the still-impossible Cesario and has only a forced and formal marriage with Sebastian) [Orsino and Viola should move in, too!] than Portia (who has been contriving actively to exclude Antonio from her marriage). Notwithstanding, I actually do know from my acquaintance with texts by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and with the arguments and assumptions of present-day scholars and critics, that my gay reading is – not exactly wrong, but, say – particular. It may be a good gay reading, but by so much as it is that, it falls outside dominant expectations. I know I am reading against the grain." (p. 14ff.) [emphasis mine]

Of course, you don't have to be a (male) gay critic to be sympathetic to these kinds of readings - I'm guessing Sinfield is unaware of fan fiction/slash, which is a pity, because as soon as you favour the idea of a reading that refuses to state the obvious and instead goes on to 'play' a little with the text, the boundary between literary criticism and (fan) fiction becomes pretty blurry. It's unexpected! It's transformative!

Sinfield then goes on to propose that the so-called "intended meaning" of a text is not necessarily a fixed part of the text itself but is "very often the meaning that is consecrated in the hegemonic critical tradition, which has claimed the text for its ideology. A reading against the grain is differentiated from an alternative or oppositional reading position by its tone of self-conscious refusal. It may not be persuasive [...], but that doesn't matter. The point is not to replace one reading with another, but to expose the conditions of reading. The aim is to dislocate and disturb, laying bare the implicit ideological assumptions of established practices." (p. 20) [emphasis mine]

I really like how he admits doing it because he wants to, fully aware that  most people won't 'see it'. (And no, this kind of creative (perhaps slightly Utopian) reading does not equal raping Shakespeare and/or his characters, as somebody, somewhat hysterically, claimed somewhere in the thread which must not be named).
grinning_soul: detail of "The Young Queen and the Page" by Maxwell Armfield, 1904 (O RLY?)

All you aspiring porn writers, take heart! The Guardian has posted this year's nominated passages for the Literary Review's Bad Sex Award. The first one is from Christopher Rush's novel Will, a first-person narrative told by the man himself. (Haven't read it - not sure I want to...) For an, ahem, florid description of young Shakespeare's first intimate encounter with Anne Hathaway click here - if you dare...
Quote: "It was exhilarating, to be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space." Oh no, you didn't! Leave Hamlet out if this! (And vagina = nutshell? I don't think so.)
It gets worse.
ETA: And the winner is --- Norman Mailer (posthumously)!
grinning_soul: (History of Slash (hands))

A scene inspired by sonnet 20 from an unpublished manuscript (ca. 1844) by David Masson, quoted in S. Schoenbaum's Shakespeare's Lives:

"Reclining on a chair, tearing his spaniel's neck with his ringed & ruffled hand from which he has just dropped a volume, is a youth in the first bloom of years, his forehead fair as a girls' [sic] although with manlier locks clustering round it, his eye-lids downcast so that their orbs are fringed, & the soft peach of his cheek first dimpling where it curls towards the small proud lip, & then rounding itself away in the white chin & throat. Standing by a window near & looking with a smile of pleasure & affection on the youth, is a man in his early prime, full-browed, clear-eyed, & with a short-close beard."

Sorry, it breaks off here...
grinning_soul: by me (History of Slash)

Dude, we could have figure that one out anyway.
Rereading Twelfth Night and loving it to bits. There's so much going on between the lines. And notice how Viola never changes back into her "woman's weeds", but is still "Cesario" and is addressed as such by her husband-to-be in the final scene.
Here's the short version (from BBC, 60 second Shakespeare).


grinning_soul: (CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow)

[livejournal.com profile] shakes_that_fic
Ever wanted to stick your favourite characters in a Shakespeare play and see what happens? The Shakespeare Pan-Fandom Ficathon lets you do exactly that! Pick any fandom, any play/sonnet, and smush them together! Pastiche, crossovers, poems, scripts, Shakespeare-inspired fic...slash, het, porn, gen...anything your little iambic-pentametric heart desires!* If you like the idea of shamelessly plagiarising a genius, sign up now!
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