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Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Writer's Life 4/21 - Princes

April 23rd is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. His effect on the world is still powerful, his works translated into almost every human language and performed all over the globe. In an article in today's NY Post, Andrea Mays & James L. Swanson relate how those works would have been lost but for the efforts of two men. Here are excerpts, edited and pared by yours truly: "He hadn’t even published his plays — during his lifetime they were considered ephemeral amusements, not serious literature. Half had never been published in any form and the rest had appeared only in unauthorized, pirated versions that corrupted his original language. Enter John Heminges and Henry Condell, friends, fellow actors and shareholders in the King’s Men theatrical company. They conceived a way to honor him — one that would make them the most unsung heroes in the history of literature. They would do what Shakespeare had never done for himself — publish a complete, definitive collection of his plays. The two had up to six types of sources available to them: Shakespeare’s original, handwritten drafts; manuscript 'prompt books' copied from the drafts; fragment 'sides' used by the actors and containing only the lines for individual parts; printed quartos — cheap paper-bound booklets, unauthorized and often wildly inaccurate versions of half the plays; after-the-fact memorial reconstructions by actors who had performed in the plays and later repeated lines to a scribe hired by Heminges and Condell; and the editors’ own personal memories. No first-generation sources for the plays exist. None of Shakespeare’s original, handwritten manuscripts survive — not a play, act, scene, page of dialogue or even a sentence. Without Heminges and Condell, half of the plays would have been lost forever. They went to work after the bard’s death. At a London print shop workers set the type by hand, printed the sheets one by one and hung them on clotheslines for the ink to dry. The process was methodical, done by hand. It took two years. Published in 1623, 'Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies' revolutionized the language, psychology and culture of Western civilization. Without the First Folio, published seven years after the bard’s death, 18 of the iconic works would have been lost. If the Bible is the book of God, Shakespeare is the book of man on earth. We use the words he invented, speak in his cadences, and think in his imagery. Whether writing about gravediggers or kings, he divined the profound commonality of man, mourned life’s frailty and brevity. Not an intellectual or cloistered scholar, Shakespeare wrote to entertain the common people but spoke universal truths. We can see ourselves in his characters. Without the First Folio, his evolution from poet to secular saint would never have happened. The story of that book is an incredible tale of faith, friendship, loyalty and chance. Few people realize how close the world came to losing Shakespeare. Today it is one of the most valuable books in the world. In October 2001, one sold for more than $6 million. Of the 750 copies printed, two-thirds have perished. 235 survive. The unpredictability of the future is one of Shakespeare’s great recurring themes. He would relish the drama of his own improbable tale. Time has performed many conjuring tricks, but few so fantastic as the making of the First Folio. Shakespeare went to his grave a mortal man destined to fade from memory. Today he is eternal.  As we commemorate the 400th, let us celebrate the forgotten men and the luminous book that saved the name of William Shakespeare, in the words of Macbeth, 'to the last syllable of recorded time.'" Hail Heminges & Condell and Mays & Swanson.

RIP Prince, 57, found dead today in his home in Minnesota. I never gave his music a chance. It just didn't grab me, but many people I respect, including celebrities, dubbed him a genius. The singer/songwriter was a multi-instrumentalist, a prolific artist who produced 39 studio albums, four live, six compilations, and six others under different names. He won seven Grammys and an Oscar for Best Score for Purple Rain (1984). Gone way too soon. Well done, sir. (Facts from Wiki)

This morning radio host Mark Simone weighed in on the replacing of Andrew Jackson's image with that of Harriet Tubman on the 20 dollar bill. He wonders what liberals will think when they find out Tubman was a Republican and a gun owner.

My thanks to the kind folks who bought and donated books and DVDs on this gorgeous day. All sales were of Russian works. The highlight of the session was a visit from both Mountain Man and Occupy Jack. Both believe the NY primary was rigged. Jack believes the Pentagon and Wall Street rule America. MM believes America is finished.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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