Monday, August 30, 2010

When Captain Picard Shuffled Off

“Tapestry.” By Ronald D. Moore. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and John de Lancie. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 6, episode 15. Syndicated television. 15 February 1993. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
The last missed reference also comes to us from the contributors to Memory Alpha, who noted a Shakespeare allusion in Season Six. Q reappears—and this sort of thing always seems to happen when Q appears—in Captain Picard's afterlife.

And Shakespeare is there, too.

More specifically, a line Hamlet delivers—"When we have shuffled off this mortal coil . . ." (III.i.66)—is re-delivered there, Q making one small change to Hamlet's line, substituting "the" for "this."

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And there you have it! All the Shakespeare in the Star Trek universe—or all the Shakespeare I've been able to find in The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, and the films. Beyond that I decline to venture. At present.

Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Star Trek's Q and Lady Macbeth

“True Q.” By René Echevarria. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, Olivia d'Abo, and John de Lancie. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 6, episode 6. Syndicated television. 1 November 1992. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
Allow me another genuinely micro micropost.

"True Q" offers another example of Shakespeare that has become part and parcel of ordinary English conversation. Q incidentally quotes from Macbeth, giving us Lady Macbeth's "What's done is done" (III.ii.11-12). I only wish the writers had followed it with Lady Macbeth's similar—but, oh! How different—later quotation: "What’s done cannot be undone" (V.i.64).

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Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Star Trek's Mot the Barber Cites Shakespeare

“Ensign Ro.” By Michael Piller and Rick Berman. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Michelle Forbes. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 5, episode 3. Syndicated television. 21 October 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2002.
Brief let me be.

The Barber of The Enterprise rattles on and on at the beginning of this episode—rather like Polonius, come to think of it—until he finally hits upon a quote from Shakespeare. It's a bit like an infinite number of monkeys typing away at a keyboard, I suppose—though that may not really give Mot his due.

In "Ensign Ro," a Shakespearean title is used as dialogue in a Star Trek episode. The more usual course is for a scrap of Shakespearean dialogue to be used as a title in a Star Trek episode.

In any case, here it is:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two Additional Shakespeare Allusions in Star Trek: The Animated Series

“The Practical Joker.” By Chuck Menville. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and George Takei. Dir. Hal Sutherland. Star Trek: The Animated Series. Season 2, episode 3. NBC. 21 September 1974. DVD. Paramount, 2008.
Star Trek: The Animated Series offers a quote from King Lear late in its run. Earlier, it provided two near quotations.

The first is based on a speech from 1 Henry IV. Falstaff says, "The better pat of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life" (V.iv.119-21). Kirk's version is the usual paraphrase: "Discretion is the better part of valour."

Kirk also modifies Polonius' "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't" (II.ii.205-06), giving us "There is a method to this madness” in place of the more cumbersome phrase:

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And the idea that The Enterprise is seeking revenge makes the entire episode into a Hamlet derivative!

Well . . . not really. But you can see how easy it is to get carried away.
Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Wink of an Eye": Shakespeare-Inspired Star Trek Title

“Wink of an Eye.” By Arthur Heinemann. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Stephen Kandel. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 11. NBC. 29 November 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2007.

I'm indebted to the good people of Memory Alpha and their post on William Shakespeare for this Shakespeare reference.

It falls into the category of Shakespearean titles for Star Trek episodes. "Wink of an Eye" is a phrase whose first extant use is in Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale. The character who speaks it is "First Gentleman"; his main role is to report the events surrounding the off-stage recovery of the King's lost daughter. In his exit line, he declares himself anxious to get back to seeing the spectacle rather than reporting on it: "Who would be thence that has the benefit of access? Every wink of an eye some new grace will be born. Our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge. Let's along" (V.ii.109-12).

The title card above will suffice as evidence of this Shakespearean title, but a relevant excerpt from The Oxford English Dictionary would not be amiss (click on the image below to enlarge it):


[Editor's Note: I wonder why the phrase "It happened in a nictitation of the eyelid" never became common.]

Making deeper connections between the episode and the play from which its title may be taken cannot be made with any certainty. The phrase had become, by the 1960s, common enough that its use here may not be specifically from Shakespeare. However, there is one interesting parallel. The episode involves beings who live at such a high rate of speed that other beings appear to be statues; the play involves a woman who appears to be a statue but who [spoiler alert] re-animates herself at the end of the play. But I won't press that point!

Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.
William Shakespeare at Memory Alpha

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Harry Mudd Quotes As You Like It; James Kirk Quotes Hamlet

“I, Mudd.” By Marc Daniels. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Stephen Kandel. Star Trek. Season 2, episode 8. NBC. 3 November 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2007.
“I, Mudd” presents two direct—though admittedly more incidental than not—quotes from Shakespeare.

Harry Mudd, in responding to a series of accusations from Kirk, ends the inquisition by saying, “And thereby hangs a tale.” He’s quoting Jaques (who is, in his turn, quoting Touchstone) in As You Like It.
’Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more ’twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale. (II.vii.23-27)
[Note: A similar line occurs in Othello: "O, thereby hangs a tale" (III.i.8).

Later, Kirk, in an attempt to confuse the logic circuits of the robots that hold them all prisoner (I’ll spare you the details), asks one of Hamlet’s rhetorical questions: “What is a man?” It’s similar to the “What a piece of work is a man!” speech he gives Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Act II, scene ii. But it’s exactly like the speech he makes while pondering Fortinbras’ sally on Poland:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. (IV.iv.33-35)
At the end of his speech, Norman (the chief android) points out that "Dreams are not real." I think Kirk is about to launch into “I could be bounded in a nutshell,” but the plot moves on before he can do so:

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Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Star Trek and Julius Caesar

“Mirror, Mirror.” By Marc Daniels. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Jerome Bixby. Star Trek. Season 2, episode 4. NBC. 6 October 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2007.
Shakespeare tends to show up in alternate universes, and I find that encouraging. I would rather not deprive any universe of its Shakespeare—whether it’s the Star Trek universe or an alternate universe within the Star Trek universe.

In "Mirror, Mirror," several members of the Enterprise crew have inadvertently switched places with their counterparts in a universe that is much harsher and infinitely more cutthroat than their own.

When he heads to his alternate-universe quarters, the Captain Kirk we know is surprised to find a woman there. He’s also surprised to find out how conniving and power-hungry she is. Because Kirk is behaving unusually and is being unusually reserved in sharing confidences with her, Lieutenant Marlena Moreau assumes he’s found a way to be ambitious beyond the dreams of avarice. She says, “If I’m to be the woman of a Caesar . . . can’t I know what you’re up to?”

Of course, merely mentioning Caesar doesn’t automatically guarantee a Shakespeare allusion. But more than the name is at work here. In Julius Caesar, we find a parallel scene. Portia stands in a similar situation when Brutus declines to share his thoughts with her. She asks to share his confidences with these words:
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself
But, as it were, in sort or limitation,
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife. (II.i.280-87)
I admit that “If I’m to be the woman of a Caesar . . . can’t I know what you’re up to?” is a poor substitute for this majestic and affecting speech, but the circumstances and the emotions of the two women match up. Observe:

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Another avenue for exploration—additional evidence that Julius Caesar may be behind this reference—might be found in the fact that the alternate universe is something like the Roman Empire at its worst. Assassination is a common means of advancement—indeed, an attempt had been made on Kirk’s life by a member of his own crew before this scene takes place. But that possible deeper analysis is beyond the scope of this post.

Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shakespeare and Star Trek Incomplete?

“The Devil in the Dark.” By Gene L. Coon. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Joseph Pevney. Star Trek. Season 1, episode 25. NBC. 9 March 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2007.
More than a year has passed since Bardfilm put together the definitive and complete post on all the Shakespeare that appears in Star Trek.

Alas, we spoke too soon.

This week, Bardfilm will be filling in the blanks and adding these new comments—retroactively, as it were—to the "Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete" post.

Picture the scene for this Shakespeare allusion. A single guard paces the battlements. Strange things have been happening in this Elsenore-esque place. Hearing a noise behind him, the guard turns and delivers a line—the first line, in fact—from Hamlet: “Who’s there?” (I.i.1):

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The only problem is that the Francisco analogue blows his line. Instead of a good and proper "Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself" (I.i.2), we get an "It's your relief, Sam." Ah, well. You can't ask for everything! At least we get the setting and the first line, even if no further allusions to Hamlet appear in this particular episode.

P.S. We don't even get a "For this relief, much thanks" (I.i.8), though it would be an entirely appropriate response to Francisco's altered line.
Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Richard the Second and Queen Victoria

Young Victoria. Dir. Jean-Marc Vallée. Perf. Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend. 2009. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2010.
A brief but telling selection from Richard II appears in the recent period drama Young Victoria.

The actors in the closet-drama-within-the-period-drama are reading from part of the play during which Richard begins to lose heart—it's not long after the lines quoted here that Richard delivers his famous "let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings" speech:
Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm off from an anointed king;
The breath of worldly men cannot depose
The deputy elected by the Lord:
For every man that Bolingbroke hath press'd
To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown . . .
Welcome, my lord. How far off lies your power? (III.ii.54-59, 63)
Only part of Salisbury's reply is audible:
. . . discomfort guides my tongue
And bids me speak of nothing but despair. (III.ii.65-66)
The remarkable aspect of having these particular lines from this particular play presented at this particular moment is that an insurrection is seething outside the palace. And the remarkable aspect of that is that it's not the first time a Queen of England has found a performance of Richard II connected with rebellion.

On 7 February 1601, Shakespeare's company was paid—and paid well above their ordinary revenue—to put on a production of Richard II. The Earl of Essex was planning to mount an insurrection to topple Queen Elizabeth the next day. He and his supporters thought either that the play would rally the people to their cause or that viewing the play would give them courage to go through with a dangerous and deadly operation.

Afterwards, in extreme pique, Her Majesty purportedly said, "I am Richard—know ye not that?"

Echoes of that monarch's encounter with Richard II resound in Queen Victoria's:

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Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

William Shatner on William Shakespeare

Why Shakespeare? Dir. Lawrence Bridges. Perf. Jan Wieringa, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and William Shatner. 2004. DVD. NEA, 2004.
"Shakespeare, to me, is a little weird." —William Shatner

That's the most memorable quote from a less-than-memorable interview DVD. The premise of the film is interesting—let's interview a bunch of people about what Shakespeare means to them—but the execution of that premise is disappointing. The film is only slightly over twenty minutes long, and its organizational method isn't clear.

But it does spend about two minutes of time with William Shatner. His organizational method isn't any clearer than the DVD's, and he seems to think Shakespeare wrote in Old English "that we can barely understand."

[Editor's Note: Beowulf was written in Old English, The Canterbury Tales was written in Middle English, and Shakespeare wrote in Modern English. Pet peeve settled. Thank you.]

But, amongst the strange phrasing and layperson's terminology, Shatner is pointing valuably (and volubly) toward his sense of what is universal in Shakespeare:

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Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet on Blu-Ray

Hamlet. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet, Richard Attenborough, Brian Blessed, Richard Briers, Julie Christie, Billy Crystal, Judi Dench, Gérard Depardieu, Reece Dinsdale, Ken Dodd, Nicholas Farrell, John Gielgud, Rosemary Harris, Charlton Heston, Derek Jacobi, Jack Lemmon, Ian McElhinney, Michael Maloney, Simon Russell Beale, Rufus Sewell, Timothy Spall, Ben Thom, and Robin Williams. 1996. DVD [Blu-Ray]. Castle Rock, 2010.
Kenneth Branagh's majestic Hamlet was released to theatres in 1996. The videocassette and Laser Disc versions came not long thereafter. The two-disc DVD came out in 2007. Tomorrow, you can own it on Blu-Ray.

The good people at Warner Bros. sent me an advance copy to review. The book is gorgeous and extremely well-designed. In the trivia section, I learned that this production marks the first time Jack Lemmon (Marcellus) had ever played a Shakespearean role!

Here's a brief clip of an interview with Branagh:


I have not yet had a chance to view the material on the disc itself—Bardfilm has no Blu-ray player but had naïvely assumed that the disc would play in any relatively-new computer!—but I wanted to get the word out about this release. I'll provide a more extensive review of the particulars of the Blu-Ray edition when I'm able to view them. In the meantime, you can be assured that the production itself is lavish and extravagant and amazing (which isn't to say that I agree with everything in the production—Jack Lemmon's first Shakespearean role could have been better acted, for example).

But whatever media brings the original experience of seeing this film in its full 70mm grandeur closer is to be admired. And Warner Bros. is to be commended for releasing the disc in this format.
Links: The Film at IMDB. Get the inside scoop on WB movie & DVD releases. Check out the official site.

Click below to get the film on Blue-ray from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Shakespeare at St. Trinian's?

St. Trinian's. Dir. Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson. Perf. Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Lena Headey, Russell Brand, and Mischa Barton. 2007. DVD. Ealing Studios, 2010.
It's certainly ridiculous, and it's only slightly Shakespearean, but I recently watched the 2007 addition to the long and distinguished film history of St. Trinian's School for Girls.

Ronald Searle invented St. Trinian's in the 1940s in a series of comics (two are included below). It was—and is—a prep. school filled with the worst possible students and teachers. Therein lies the fun.

If you ever decide to watch this film, give it twenty minutes before making a decision about whether to give up or not—it takes about that long for the humor to catch on. If it's caught on by then, you'll likely enjoy the rest of the film.

In this film, the girls have to win the School Challenge Quiz Show at all costs. Naturally, they cheat unrelentingly. This clip contains the only direct reference to Shakespeare in the film—it's late in the clip, so wait for it (I felt the need to set the scene by showing both the first and second rounds of play).

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And there you have it. Stephen Fry does add a certain je ne sais quois to the performance—but it's the Shakespeare that really does the trick.

I gather that a newer film—St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold—has even more Shakespeare. But the film hasn't yet been released to markets in the United States. Further bulletins as events warrant!

"Girls, girls!—a little less noise, please."

"Come along, prefects. Playtime over."

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film or the book on which it was based from amazon.com
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Single Macbeth Reference in Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast. Dir. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. Perf. Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, and Angela Lansbury. 1991. DVD. Walt Disney Video, 2002.
Toward the end of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the villainous Gaston (he about whom it is said that "No one's slick as Gaston; / No one's quick as Gaston; / No one's neck's as incredibly thick as Gaston's") rallies the villagers to attack the Beast.

In the big fight song ("The Mob Song"), he uses a line that Lady Macbeth used under similarly disheartening circumstances: "Screw your courage to the sticking point."

The image above shows and tells it all!
Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Young Adult Verse Novel with Shakespeare in the Title

Koertge, Ron. Shakespeare Bats Cleanup. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2003.
———. Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2010.

Apart from the title, there’s not a lot of Shakespeare in these two books—but the premise is interesting. The narrator is composing poetry while convelascing, and the narrative unfolds through the poems he writes. He’s a bit ashamed of being a poet—he doesn’t want to earn the nickname “Shakespeare,” and he'd rather be playing baseball—but, though the course of the book, he becomes accustomed to the idea and comes to enjoy being a poet.

The best poem of the bunch is one called “How do you do, Haiku,” and it appears in the first volume:
How do you do, Haiku

I thought I’d start small. I kind of
remember haiku from school last year.
I at least remember they’re little.

But, man—I never saw so many frogs
in the moonlight. And leaves. Leaves
all over the place.

Weren’t there any gardeners in ancient
Japan? Weren’t there any cats and dogs?

Still, haiku look easy. Sort of. Five
syllables in the first line, seven
in the second, five in the third.

Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs,
Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs,
Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, leaves.

Very funny, Kevin.

At least I finished it. I can’t finish anything
else, except my nap. Seventeen syllables
is just about right for somebody with my
reduced stamina. Perfect thing for an
invalid.

Oh, man—look at that: in valid. I never
saw that before.
Just a single space
in a word I thought I knew
made the difference.
That's a good, reasonable, humorous build-up to a nice payoff. It may not be a haiku home run, but it's at least a double—possibly even a triple. In any case, that's the poem that made checking out the book worthwhile.

All in all, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is not bad, even if it lacks any close Shakespearean connections (which, I realize, it wouldn't be fair to demand—though it might be fair to expect). Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs is a bit disappointing—the first of the two books is the better one.
Click below to purchase the books from amazon.com
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Friday, August 13, 2010

A Spray of Plum Blossoms: Early, Silent, Chinese Shakespeare

A Spray of Plum Blossoms. Dir. Wangcang Bu. Perf. Ruan Lingyu, Jin Yan, Gao Zhanfei, Lin Chuchu, and Wang Cilong. 1931. DVD. Epoch Entertainment, 2007.
Alexander C. Y. Huang's Chinese Shakespeares (for which, q.v.) provides a substantial and complex vocabulary for talking about global Shakespeares. But it also provides a wealth of interesting examples.

One of the Chinese Shakespeares Huang addresses at length is a 1931 silent film derivative of Two Gentlemen of Verona entitled A Spray of Plum Blossoms. The film is quite interesting. Its title cards appear in Chinese and English (see above), which may indicate something of the audience toward which it was directed.

The scene below is analogous to Act I, scene ii of Two Gentlmen. Julia receives a love letter from Proteus, tears it up out of pride (she doesn't want to be seen as in love before her maid), and immediately regrets it:

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I'm particularly fond of the way the vertical Chinese title card fades into the horizontal English title card. The maid, too, plays her part to perfection. The rhythm of her entrance and exit with a dustpan toward the end is admirable.

I'll leave the deep analysis of the film to Huang—you'll find it in his book—but I hope this brief clip (the film itself runs well over an hour and a half!) interests you enough to try either the film or the book.
Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film or the book from amazon.com
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Micro-Review of Chinese Shakespeares

Huang, Alexander C. Y. Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
I've written a longer review of this book that I hope will be published in the medium of print in due course of time. In the meantime, I'd like to call everyone's attention to the book and mention one of the chief points of interest and utility that the book offers (one not mentioned in the longer review).

For those who are interested in the connections between Shakespeare and Asia, Chinese Shakespeares is the book. My own interest is particularly centered in Shakespeare and Vietnam—Vietnamese Shakespeares, to follow the nomenclature of Huang's book—and this book provides an essential vocabulary for such study and a model examination of one country's engagement with Shakespeare.

Among much else, Huang offers a useful set of categories for the ways Shakespeare and China have interacted:
1. Universalization. For Huang, "universalization" means playing Shakespeare straight. A given play, translated into Chinese, is presented without deviation from its plot or characterization. If the play seems “foreign” to its Chinese audience, that demonstrates its authenticity. The purpose of such production is exposure to western thought, modes of expression, or ways of life.

2. Localization. Localization occurs when Shakespeare is assimilated into the particulars of Chinese culture: the plots are reset so that they have greater resonance with local norms of behavior; by this means, Shakespeare reveals something about the local culture to the local culture.

3. Truncation. Truncation involves rewriting the plays “so as to relate them to images of China” (17). In this approach, considerations of plot are secondary to turning the narrative into something that might be considered more typically Chinese.
These categories are useful as starting points for studying the uses to which Shakespeare is put in any culture. Naturally, some moments of Shakespearean interaction will fit more neatly into these categories than others.

My longer review talks about all the particular instances of Chinese Shakespeares that Huang examines—all of which are fascinating. Bardfilm has dealt with at least one of them: The Legend of the Black Scorpian (for which, q.v.). And I intend to address others when possible.

Huang's book is magnificent for showing how both China and Shakespeare can be changed into something rich and strange as they interact.

Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Three Fates: King Lear in Vietnam and France

Lê, Linda. The Three Fates. Trans. Mark Polizzotti. New York: New Directions, 2010.

Linda Lê's 1997 novel, recently released in an English translation, is one of the most challenging and most rewarding novels I've read—and, yes, that includes Ulysses. The work reads much more like a prose poem—a prose epic poem—than anything else.

Even though one of the name characters goes by the soubriquet "King Lear," don't expect the plot to be the same as Shakespeare's play. The plot plays with Shakespeare's play by telling the story of three granddaughters (two sisters and their cousin) who were brought to France from Vietnam by their grandmother and who are planning to get the two sisters' father (who stayed in Vietnam) to visit them in France.

Within that very basic plot structure, an infinite amount of beauty and amazement rest. The three granddaughters—usually referred to as Southpaw (who is missing her left hand), Long Legs (who is the great beauty of the family), and Cousin—are portrayed with as much intensity as Cordelia, Goneril, and Regan.

The text is rich and dense. A glance at the pages shows that paragraphing is not one of the conventions followed by this novel. Indeed, there are very few section breaks; the text flows delightfully on and on, subtly shifting point-of-view and setting, changing the nicknames of the main characters, their friends and relations, and the novel's locales. The novel demands (and rewards) attentive reading in this and many other regards.

The extract below should whet your brain's appetite for more. The passage describes Long Legs, who is pregnant, and her journey to her pregnancy. The best advice I have about it is to read it out loud. Really. You might start to sound like a Beat Poet, but the rhythm and the music of the words is part of the meaning of the passage. I'm eager to read the French original to see how it sounds and to explore how the translator managed to create something so astonishing.
For while waiting for the demigod who would devote his little barb to her alone, the brazen hussy had flailed like a regular banshee, jumped one joker after another, scraped every string with her bow, learned the guitar in ten easy lessons, danced the jig, bought a drum that went chica-boom, ordered paint sets, set up an easel, bought a box that went click-clack, designed dresses, bought a machine that went zigzag, nursed dwarf trees, bought a miniature fountain that went splish-splash, crammed basic Japanese easy-peasy, mimicked the art of tea, bought a rare tea service financed in a hugger-mugger, but try as she might to go clickclackchicaboomzigzag, the days went by willy-nilly, the detritus of failed vocations piled up pell-mell, and it was always the same bric-a-brac of boredom that found itself waiting for the fortuitous smish-smash of a savior who burst in lickety-split to cure these fits and untangle this mish-mash of whim-whams. Said whim-whams had spun my cousin's head round and round, emptied her pockets, left her still yearning to stock her little boutique with an extra measure of heart. The savior who fell from heaven reached under the detritus of failed vocations and pulled out a lost soul eager to be branded, to sell off her cartload of whim-whams, swap the extra measure of heart for a gleaming kitchen, trade in the boxes that went clickclackchicaboom for a mewling blob of jelly that went waah waah at any hour of the day or night. For in all her zigzagging, the lost soul had forgotten the tick-tock of age. While she was frolicking, time had pursued its game of tic-tac-toe. And once the clickclackchicaboom was over and done, the clock began tick-tocking something fierce in the whim-wham graveyard. The savior dropped in just in time to pluck the ripe fruit. The green was turning mauve. The pink was getting dusky. The bell was tolling for her youth, drowning out the caterwaul of strings fiddled a-go-go. Her whim-whams now stowed in the attic, the lost soul devoted her life to the savior who had dropped into her bed, calm block here fallen from a celestial joy. A flawless brick, all smooth, square, and dry, the heart of the wall, which had reared up without warning, blocking out the sun. But behind the wall, the lost soul had her spanking new enclosure, bricks of good sense on which to lay her head and, soon, a demi-god who would go waah waah then clickclackchicaboomsplishsplash, carving out his own little slice of heart before getting his own spanking new enclosure and, inside it, a mewling demigod who'd go waah waah before sounding all the bells and whistles. All super-duper and hunky-dory, everything ship-shape. (49-50)
The brain whirls, but it is delighted at the number of synapses that start firing, intrigued by the connections and interconnections it finds, and joyful in the knowledge that it is being caught up in a whirlwind of knowledge.

You will need to take your time with this novel, but you will not regret it.

Note: The novel was riginally published as Les Trois Parques by Editions Christian Bourgois, Paris, 1997.


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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2012 by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest