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This book will come as a revelation to Shakespeare scholars everywhere. It reveals the identity of the playwright and Shakespeare’s colleague behind the mask of Jaques in As You Like It. It pinpoints the true first night of Twelfth Night and reveals why the play’s performance at the Inns of Court was a momentous occasion for shakespeare. It also the identities Quinapalus, the Vapians, Pigrogromitus and Feste, as well as the ‘Dark Lady’ of the Sonnets and the inspiration for Jessica in The Merchant of Venice. And it solves Shakespeare’s greatest riddle: the meaning of M.O.A.I. in Twelfth Night. In sum, this book reveals William Shakespeare as a far more personal writer than we have ever imagined.
Knowing William Shakespeare better, we are better equipped to know his plays. Better knowing his plays brings us closer to knowing him. This book suggests that Shakespeare wrote not only for the mass audience, but simultaneously for that stratum of cognoscenti whom Gabriel Harvey dubbed 'the wiser sort.' It identifies many passages in the plays which Shakespeare resolves famous cruces which scholars have never been able to unravel, and casts new light on Shakespeare's mind and method. Shakespeare wrote into Julius Caesar more than one passage intelligible only to that handful of the wiser sort who had read Plutarch and knew their Suetonius. Into Macbeth Shakespeare injected a detail accessible only to the few intrepid souls brave or reckless enough to have cast the horoscope of King James I. We find a poem in Hamlet, where the prince invites his love and bandies matters of cosmology which were burning issues (literally) throughout Shakespeare's lifetime. While Julius Caesar's old Julian calendar prevailed in England its rival, the scientifically correct Gregorian reformed calendar, dominated most of Europe. Shakespeare suffused his plays with references to calendrical anomalies, as seen in Othello. By relating Shakespeare's texts, the Renaissance calendars and the liturgy, the book produces a lexicon apt for parsing the time-riddles in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare handled religious subjects, examined and interrogated the dogmas of the received religions, and parodied the Crucifixion by exploiting Holinshed's account of the persecution and assassination of York.
Elizabethan writers frequently complained about what we call ‘close reading’, i.e., that their readers imputed seditious and/or scandalous intentions to the author. We take a close look at this practice, and how it should influence our reading of Shakespeare today.
This chapter explains that Christopher Marlowe was the inspiration for Jaques in Shakespeare’s As You Like It – and that Shakespeare wrote the play to commemorate the seventh anniversary of Marlowe’s death. We take a close look at how Shakespeare felt about his rival, mentor and friend.
This chapter endorses the identification of Emilia Bassano Lanier as the ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s Sonnets … and the inspiration of Jessica in The Merchant of Venice.
This chapter pinpoints 27 December 1601 as the date of the first performance of Twelfth Night – and demonstrates that Shakespeare wrote his play for two audiences, one at Elizabeth’s Court, the other at the Inns of Court.
This chapter reveals the identities of Quinapalus, the Vapians, Pigrogromitus, and the court jester behind Feste’s name. It’s Shakespeare at his word-playing best.
This chapter explains how Shakespeare marshalled St. Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians as the subtext for Twelfth Night.
Gabriel Harvey has long been recognized as the inspiration for Malvolio in Twelfth Night. This chapter explains how Shakespeare turned his late friend Thom Nashe into Feste, and continued Nashe’s torment of Harvey from beyond the grave.
Shakespeare’s M.O.A.I. riddle in Twelfth Night has been his most intractable crux. This chapter provides the solution, and explains how a mis-translation concealed the truth from scholars for 400 years.