Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Parallel novels"

As I just learned, while grading y'all's final papers: apparently there is a term for the genre that includes works like Indigo and A Thousand Acres.  It is "parallel novel."  We all knew this was a thing, in these fallen times of ours (but then, didn't James Joyce do it too?), but now it's an official genre.  More details here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coming soon: Almereyda and Hawke do Cymbeline

For those who just can't get enough of Ethan Hawke and Michael Almereyda... they're doing a Cymbeline!  Trailer and a bit of commentary here: http://screenrant.com/cymbeline-trailer-2014/

Will be interesting to see how they do this less-commonly-adapted play.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Othello CSI

·      Produced by Masterpiece Theater
·      First shown in 2002 on PBS
·      Set during Tony Blair’s administration
o   Had a government highly concerned with its own image
·      Screenplay by Andrew Davies
o   Changes the setting to New Scotland Yard in 1990s London
o   Originally wanted to modernize the Tempest, was told he must chose a tragedy, went to get a drink, had the idea to make Othello Police Commissioner

·      Othello, by William Shakespeare
o   Othello is a Moor married to Desdemona
o   Othello promotes Cassio instead of Iago, prompting Iago’s rage
o   Iago takes Desdemona’s handkerchief and plants it among Cassio’s belongings to convince Othello his wife is not loyal
o   Othello convinces Roderigo to attack Cassio
o   Othello smothers Desdemona
o   Othello finds out about Iago’s involvement and hurts but doesn’t kill him
o   Iago and Othello are arrested
o   Othello commits suicide
o   Cassio is ordered to punish Iago
·      The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, a documentary
o   a black teenager was murdered by racist thugs in 1993
o   the original investigation was bungled
o   nobody was successfully prosecuted
o   the police were deemed institutionally racist
o   Ever since then the police have been making huge efforts to clean up their image, but there hasn’t been an increase in the number of black and Asian-origin policemen being promoted into high positions
·      Richard III, a movie version by Laurence Olivier
o   Lets the villain, Urquhart, talk directly to the audience
o   Inspires Davies to do the same with Jago

Othello –
·      simplified and characters changed
o   Othello is a black police officer married to Dessie
o   Prime Minister promotes Othello instead of Jago, prompting Jago’s rage
o   Othello gives Jago his bathrobe to test for Cass’s DNA
o   Othello attacks Cass
o   Jago tells Othello that Cass’s DNA is on the bathrobe
o   Othello smothers Dessie
o   Othello finds out about Jago’s involvement and tells him to leave
o   Othello commits suicide
o   Iago is promoted to Othello’s position
·      Dessie falls in love with Othello after interviewing him, hearing his story
·      Othello’s bathrobe is the same as Desdemona’s handkerchief, but Dessie gives Othello the bathrobe
·      Othello does not overlook Jago, but he steals a job that Jago badly wants
·      Roderigo and Brabantio don’t exist or aren’t present onstage
·      Jago tells Cass that Dessie and Othello aren’t in love, that they have a stage marriage (Cass then flirts with Dessie and says he fancies her)
·      Lulu (Emilia) suspects Jago, but never speaks up
·      Othello smothers Dessie almost killing her, before he kills her entirely
·      Jago gets away without anyone realizing his involvement

Stephen Lawrence –
·      made older and more innocent
o   The Police Commissioner is recorded making racist remarks and is forced to resign
o   Police raid the home of Billy Coates, a middle aged black man, while looking for drugs
o   Billy taunts the officers
o   Three officer proceed to beat Billy to death
o   A fourth, younger officer stands by in shock
o   People riot, and Othello gives a speech to calm them, promising justice
o   Othello is promoted to the position of police commissioner
o   Jago convinces the fourth officer to be a witness in court
o   The night before the trial, Jago gets the officer drunk, knowing he will take sleeping pills and die
o   Without a witness, the trial results in no convictions
·      Other officers scorn the fourth officer, showing how racist the department is
·      Othello delivers an eloquent speech to the public, like his speech to the senate in Shakespeare (in both, he later descends into a more crude individual)
·      Similar to Trayvon Martin case, where George Zimmerman was not convicted
·      Jago is racist (we know because says so during multiple asides in the movie)
o   He uses the racists officers on trial to get in touch with some neo-nazis who he asks to attack Dessie and scare Othello into assigning Cass to protect her

An Interview with Andrew Davies

CSI "The Hamlet of the Shchigrovsky District"


·       Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev
o   1818-1883
o   Born in Orel/Oryol, capital of a province of that same name in Central Russia
o   Mother was a rich landowner
o   Objected to his mother’s treatment of household serfs
o   Studied the faculty of History and Philology at the University of St. Petersburg
o   Admired Alexander Pushkin
o   Studied for a time in Germany (1838), from then on he spent very little time Russia
o   Sympathized with the lower class
o   Met and had a somewhat tempestuous relationship with Tolstoy
o   Was an advocate of Westernization
o   Fathers and Sons
§  1862, his masterpiece
§  deals with nihilist philosophy and issues of both personal and social rebellion
o   “Was a critic of his own generation’s Hamletism and of the fundamental injustice of serfdom on which Russian society was based.”
·       Sketches from a Hunter’s Album/A Sportsman’s Sketches
o   Originally published in the Russian journal The Contemporary between 1847 and 1851
o   After they were published in a separate edition Turgenev was arrested and exiled to his estate of Spasskoye
o   About the rural world of Russia before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861
·       Hamlet of the Shchigrovsky District
o   A study in the “Hamletism” of Turgenev’s generation
o   Turgenev refers to the Hamlet character as being at the “extreme limit of unhappiness.”
o   His self-indulgence is the tragedy
§  “…reflects the tragic loss of illusions and fond hopes experienced by Turgenev’s generation as a whole” (Penguin 11)
§  “His [the Hamlet’s] final reconciliation is in its own way as bitter an acceptance of social inequality and complete obliteration of individuality as is the peasant’s subservience to his master.” (Penguin 11)
·       Shchigrovsky District
o   In the Kursk Oblast (federal subject) of Russia
o   Western Russia
o   Part of the steppes


·        La Coupe et les Lèvres (The Cup and the Lips) – Aflred de Musset
o   Mon verre n’est pas grand, mais je bois dans mon verre
§  My cup is not large but I drink from it
·       Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences
o   Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
o   Purpose of the encyclopedia is to describe how spirit or mind develops itself
·       Das Lied von der Glocke
o   Johann Christoph von Schiller
§  Friends with Goethe


·        “In the first place, I speak French as well as you, and German even better; secondly, I have spent three years abroad…”
o   -Boastful (not afraid praise himself as intellectual, even smarter than other people)
·        “…and was married at home to a consumptive lady, who was bald but a remarkable personality”
·      “And, too, strange to say, I liked Sofya best of all when I was sitting with my back to her, or still more, perhaps, when I was thinking or dreaming about her in the evening on the terrace.”
o   -X’s love is never obvious, similar to Hamlet’s love of Ophelia, especially when he knows that Claudius and Polonius are watching
·       “I remember how they buried her. It was in the spring. Our parish church was small and old…”
o   -Sofya’s funeral is not a big ordeal, similar to Ophelia’s. The only people who truly attend it are those of the lower class (clowns/grave-diggers)
·       “It is only [after her death] that I do her complete justice. It’s only now, for instance, that memories of some evenings I spent with her before marriage no longer awaken the slightest bitterness, but move me almost to tears”
o   -Like Hamlet, is somewhat blind to the present and is only truly remorseful after the fact.

·        X’s mother, like Gertrude, does all that she can for him but it isn’t quite enough