Wednesday, February 9, 2011


That's a pretty hubristic title for my comeback post, but I think I'll use it anyway.  Yes, my loyal readers, the Bard Blog is back. Under its old name, too. In the long months of its absence, it hasn't been entirely idle. As some of you may know, it wandered across the web to its own lovely little site, far from its provincial origins here at Blogger.  My husband, who is a hotshot web designer, created the new site for me, and it was very cool-looking. But he didn't bother to figure out how to get rid of all the comment spam, so I got like seventy comments a day that said generic stuff like "very cool blog," or "interesting ideas," and embedded a link to another site. This, I realized, was a classic bush-league attempt to raise search rankings...well, never mind.

Anyway, I moaned about this to (read: nagged) said spouse until, in the manner of beleaguered husbands everywhere, he tried to fix it. And proceeded to wreck the interface. No, I don't fully understand what happened, but suffice it to say it was completely FUBAR. Shortly thereafter, our company got a big design/software development contract, and fixing Gayle's blog quickly sank to the bottom of hubby's to-do list. Which I understand--putting food on the table and shoes on the kid must come first. Nevertheless, I didn't give up hope. It seemed certain that a golden window of blog-fixing opportunity was going to open soon, so I waited. And waited. But finally, I realized that--like a failed adventurer--I was going to have to cut my losses and move back home. You know, back to the parents' house--which is sort of what Blogger is, vis a vis my peripatetic blog.  I miss my cool new/old site, although I only had it for a little while.  But I am happy to have a place to go and continue my musings about the Bard here.

What I Did on My Vacation

While I was away (at the other site) I wrote a bunch of posts about the Authorship Question. By the time I got to the seventh post I was pretty sick of it, and couldn't wait to get back to the plays. I still have those seven posts, all ready to go, but I think I'll hold them back for a bit, maybe let them trickle out here every few weeks, just for something different. Or when I'm too busy to write new stuff. But I have to say, I was kind of weirded out/surprised by how super-passionate some of these anti-Stratfordian types are. Mostly they're people who believe that the Earl of Oxford is the real Shakespeare, and that there's been a black-ops conspiracy going on since the seventeenth century. I'm not going to get into this again now. But I should fess up and say that this kind of thing makes me uncomfortable--conspiracy theories of all kinds are rampant on the web, I know...and maybe it will someday be proved that some of them are true. But until then, I prefer to live in my rationalist fool's paradise.

I did learn a lot writing those posts, though.  Academics--a tribe to which, as some of you know, I once belonged--have pretty much no truck with the whole alt-Shakespeare carnival.  I never heard much about it at all, in all the Shakespeare classes I took in college and grad school. As a consequence, I never talked about it in any of the many Shakespeare classes I taught, either. But it's really a pretty interesting subject from a historical standpoint.  Basically, every era has its own Shakespeare pretender, who more or less reflects the concerns, fantasies, and anxieties of the time. And the conspiracy theorists themselves--whose numbers include Mark Twain, Henry James, Sigmund Freud and several Supreme Court justices--are just as interesting.

But as I said, I'm not going to go back there right now. I need to read a play! Really read it, like for the next few months. And after a lot of ruminations on the subject, I decided to junk my whole "early plays first" scheme and go straight for one of the Biggies. No, not the Ultra-biggies--not Hamlet or Lear. Not quite ready for those yet.  But right now, 2011, seems like a good time to read number three on my list of Will's Most Important Works.  This play takes up many of the issues we looked at in The Merchant of Venice--outsider vs. insider, race/ethnicity, gender and power.

Yeah, okay--that could be a lot of plays. But I'm talking about Othello. It seems timely, when so many fantasies about race and leadership are playing out in our own political culture. And it's in many ways the most "modern" of all Will's plays--the issues, anxieties, and pathologies it dramatizes are still with us, virtually unchanged in essence.

So let's get started. It's going to be a long one, but I hope it will be fun, too.


  1. Good idea to hold back the authorship issue posts because there is no issue. The man from Stratford whom the works were attributed to created the works.

    The 'controversy' is about selling books. Don't get sucked in.

  2. I, too, remain unconvinced about alternative Shakespeares--but the whole controversy is kind of interesting in an "Area 51" sort of way. I mean, there's no real evidence, but there are still passionate believers. Educated, literate people. This mystifies me...I suspect that the idea that someone has been denied the renown he deserves (i.e., the "real" Shakespeare) probably plays to their own, very personal resentments. Personally, I'm not really that interested in the whole controversy--but I have encountered many people who claim to be certain that "the Stratford Man" is a poser, or a front for someone else. Despite the lack of any empirical evidence whatsoever. Which proves that once you start seeing conspiracies, anything becomes possible. I guess if it were proven that "Shakespeare" was really a pseudonym, I'd find that mildly interesting. But it wouldn't change my mind about the what would it matter?