Log in

No account? Create an account
bear by san

March 2017



Powered by LiveJournal.com
bear by san


The Stratford Man: 526 words (mostly poking to see if it's ripe yet, or possibly even twitching)
Reason for stopping: Can't see straight, and I got as far as I knew what to write.

It's going to be slow going. I can see that: there's a google in every paragraph. (What's the recipe for irongall ink?)

Must find out what Richard Burbage's friends called him. God damn it, I hate historical writing. But I have to admit, the frustrated English major in me rather enjoyed writing this:

"I would not hazard myself to hazard a guess," Burbage replied, hooking a bootheel over a rung of the stool. "What are you working on?"

"Titus Andronicus."

"Still? The plague will have the playhouses closed into winter, Will. Mark my words. And it's a terrible story."


In my Bedford Companion to Shakespeare he's always referred to as Richard. The only period document reproduced lists his name as "Richard Burbadg".

Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

*tries to restrain self*
*fails miserably*

Titus Andronicus isn't a bad play. It's a Senecan play, which is a mode Elizabethan actors and playgoers would have been familiar and comfortable with, since boys in grammar school learned Latin in part via Seneca's plays. It reads badly on the page for modern audiences, but apparently in performance it's still fantastic.

The Arden edition of Titus Andronicus is edited and has an introduction by Jonathan Bate, who is brilliant; he points out that Titus "perhaps did more than any other play to establish its author's reputation as a dramatist" (TA 1). His introduction has a section on the play's origins, extracts from Henslowe's Diary and all, which might be interesting for you.

I have a whole chapter on Titus in my dissertation; I'm partisan. And if you're wanting to do a Shakespeare in Love style, wink-to-the-modern-audience Shakespeare, it doesn't matter. But it looks like you're after historical accuracy, so I thought I'd weigh in. I can go on at greater length (hoo boy can I ever) if you'd like, but I won't inflict that on you unless you ask. *g*

Sadly, I don't know what Richard Burbage would have been called by his friends.

Oh, and info. on the Arden Titus:

Shakespeare, William. Titus Andronicus. Ed. Jonathan Bate. Third Series. London: Routledge, 1995. ISBN 0-415-04868-0 (pbk).

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

Well, yes and no.

Frankly, I could give a shit about historical accuracy: it's a fantasy, and written for a general audience rather than a scholarly one. (I've done my scholarly indenturehood and walked away without a second look back. I respect people who can actually enjoy this stuff, but I am not one of them.)

Shakespeare in love (or that silly knight movie) went beyond that by a long shot.

One of the tricks to writing historical stories for a modenr audience, I think, is choosing the elements you want to emphasize. I could write it as an anthropological study of a different time (sort of a historical fantasy equivalent of an Ursula le Guin book) and I will probably reinforce *some* elements of that. But for a modern reader to connect with the story adequately, I have to provide them with viewpoint characters who reflect a modern sensibility....

...or it would have to come with a scholarly gloss. And since I'm more interested in exploring the conspiracy aspects and the idea of art-as-magic, that where the focus has to be, along with the unfamiliar politics of the time.

I sometimes think SFF is all about choosing your battles: the idea is to evoke the flavor of another time while giving the readers viewpoint characters they can understand. (The dialogue won't be in EME either *g*)

That's often handled in fantasy--especially fantasy with an anthropological bent--by providing a POV character who originates in our modern era. Since I don't have that luxury.... I'm afraid you're stuck with Elizabethan characters with some modern sensibilities. (Although the plan is to use Titus' success as a plot point, if that buys me back into your favor at all--and it's important to the plot that Will be struggling with it at this point. I also moved the presumed time of writing of the play around by about six months....)

I also happen to think that the language and the craft in Titus (especially the first half) aren't up to Shakespeare's later standard.... which is also a plot point *g*.

THAT said, I'm well aware that you know a hell of a lot more about the period than I do, and I'm wildly grateful for any help--as long as you promise not to get mad at me when I nod, agree, and then ignore you.

And yeah, it appears that they just called him "Richard." Or nobody bothered to write a nickname down. Hurm. Letters. There might be letters.... (gets on plane to London)

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

Dude, it's your story. It's what the phrase "artistic license" was coined for.

I was feeling bad about going off at you anyway. Titus is a hobby-horse of mine, because everyone says, Oh, Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare's worst play, and it isn't Timon of Athens is Shakespeare's worst play, thank you very much. Titus is a very weird play, and very gory and violent, but none of those means it's bad. They just mean it's weird.

*looks at paragraph*
See what I mean? Hobby-horse.

Anyway, you are under no obligation to write the story to suit me--in fact, I beg you not to. As long as you know what you're doing, you can do anything you want. Mostly my concern, badly phrased tho' it was, was that modern sensibilities be assigned to early modern characters on the basis of inadequate information. And clearly, that's not what's going on.

And I am happy--more than happy, wildly gleeful--to talk about Elizabethan drama & theaters & politics & society. Ad nauseum even. Don't hesitate to ask.

I should have said earlier (bad Truepenny! no cookie!) that the wordplay on hazard is really clever and gives a good sense of Elizabethan language without actually descending into EME, which I agree is probably not where you want to go. But nothing throws me out of a historical faster than narrative and dialogue that offer no concessions to the time period in which the story is set. So I like the line you're walking with that.

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

*g* I'm scared stiff of this book. I mean, stiff. So I'm probably a little too defensive about it.

I know that no matter what I do with it, it's going to make people unhappy (there seems to be a whole industry of readers who read historical fiction for no purpose other than picking it apart....) and it's also a much more ambitious book than anything I've written.

I agree that Titus isn't a bad play. It's--disjointed, and I think the first half lacks narrative energy, and then it crystallizes about halfway through and suddenly starts working like Shakespeare. And yeah, Timon is a lot worse *g*. I'm not a big fan of Edward III either, but that has something to do with politics and historical accuracy. (squid! squid!)

And really, I need all the help I can get with this, so if there's a possibility of recruiting you as a first reader or technical consultant, it would make my year. (Please don't feel obligated, though: I know you've got more than a plateful.)

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

... if there's a possibility of recruiting you as a first reader or technical consultant, it would make my year.

I'd be delighted. 100%.

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead


You're hired *g*

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead


I should also note that this book, when it's done, will no doubt result in my lynching by Stratfordians, Oxfordians, and those Marlowe people as well.... and maybe a few other "-dians" in the Shakespearian community as well.

So since I've already gone there, and I'm not attempting anything like a serious scholarly treatise, I may as well set my sights firmly on a general audience and get on with my life. *g*

On the other hand, I'm at least trying for SCA-level historical accuracy, as opposed to the glaringly out of period rock and roll fantasies referenced above. (And I am grateful. Did I mention I was grateful? I am grateful.)

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

Marlovians, Oxfordians, and Baconians.

All of whom are cracked. Seriously cracked. (I think I've deleted the spam email I got extolling a book whose premise was that the Earl of Oxford was one of Elizabeth I's six illegitimate children. And that Elizabeth and the Earl of Oxford then had a child, namely Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, one of the contenders for the Fair Young Man of the sonnets. I was not kidding about the cracked part.)

I bought a book recently I haven't had time to explore, The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined, which is basically a pair of cryptographers picking apart the excesses of the Baconian camp. I'm looking forward to it.

About the Marlovians, I think Neil Gaiman put it best, in an answer to some question on his blog:
But the Shakespeare was really Marlowe people leave me shaking my head. It's like claiming that Alan Moore also writes the comics attributed to Frank Miller, that John Lennon faked his death and writes songs under the name of Stephin Merritt (hiring the real Merritt to perform them in public), or that J.R.R. Tolkien also wrote the books commonly attributed to Robert Heinlein.

'Cause, yeah.

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

Grin. There's a lot of interesting fiction out there masquerading as literary/historical theorizing.

On the other hand, since the premise of the novel (and notice, I'm being very careful to make it as plain as possible that this alternate-history-fantasy, and not a scholarly treatise--although I expect if the book enjoys even modest success, attempts will be made to suck me into the debate. I know some Oxfordians. I know some Oxfordians who talk of nothing else.) is that *all* of the Shakespeare-conspiracy theories are true (simultaneously: neat trick, that, isn't it?) I figure I'm going to outrage everybody.

'cause, you know. There's that difference between novel, and fiction, and tellinga good story--and reality/historical certainty.

Which people seem to miss.

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

*all* of the Shakespeare-conspiracy theories are true

That is a neat trick.

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

It's a fantasy, after all *g*

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

I was in Chepstow, Wales, and the museum there had a picture of some doctor attempting to dig up the countryside in order to find the lost books of Bacon which would prove that he'd written Shakespeare's plays. Apparently he believed that there were caves up by the Wye river which contained the hidden writings, and he had a financial backer for this expedition. The museum curator got a kick out of chatting about it with me; they did an exhibit on it, and it attracted huge numbers of people, apparently.

Web site discussing this here.

Re: Warning: Uber-geekitude ahead

I'm fond of the various theories about where de Vere's manuscripts lie. *g*

And admittedly, the idea of a conspiracy that everybody involved assumed--even planned--to have uncovered within fifty years of their deaths, and they were just so clever in their clues that lesser minds haven't cracked it is very appealing. Which is why fiction is so much more attractive than fact: it's all about aesthetics.

Actually, I'm going to be using some of that stuff in *my* manuscript. Ler me know where you'd like stuff emailed as it accrues, if you're serious about the vetting process....



First, watching the different icons truepenny has for herself was almost as much fun as reading you two going ga-ga over Shakespeare lol.

Second, I LOVED the excerpt. I think it's betraying more skill than you think you have. Yeah, this will be a hard book but if anyone can write it, it's you.

Third, the premise is marvelous. Again, I would be scared stiff too (I have a scared stiff book but I'm ignoring it until I'm old and too tired to type) if that came to me and refused to go away, but it's a really good idea.

Most of all I just like that you're willing to throw all this stuff into a pot and make a damn good story out of it. I'm already excited about it, and I haven't read it yet lol.

I wish I knew enough about Shakespeare and Elizabethan (sic) England to qualify as a first reader, but I can't even spell the damn thing right...

Re: Rhonda

*g* Well, except for Bacon.

I can't fit Bacon in.

He's too ridiculous to even consider....