Friday, November 18, 2016

November 18, 2016

1. A word Shakespeare often used--e.g., in The Winter's Tale, Leontes says:
Come, sir page,
Look on me with your welkin eye (1.2).

2. The New York Times has a story today about a new production of Othello. Link to story. And--in a separate story: a hip-hop version of Othello! Link to story.

3. Happy birthday to writer Margaret Atwood, whom Joyce and I got to see and meet a couple of years ago up at the Stratford Festival in Ontario. I recently read her novelized version of Shakespeare's The Tempest (her novel is called Hag-Seed), which I enjoyed a lot.

From today's Writer's Almanac: It's the birthday of novelist and poet Margaret Atwood (books by this author), born in Ottawa, Ontario (1939). During her childhood, her family spent every April through November in the Quebec wilderness, where her father, an entomologist, did research for the government. She was 11 years old before she completed a full year of school. When she was about six, she began to write morality plays, comic books, poems, and a novel about an ant that she never finished. While in high school, she wrote poetry and thought about a career in home economics. But, influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, at 16, she committed herself to a writing career. She said, "It was suddenly the only thing I wanted to do."

Atwood studied English at the University of Toronto. She reviewed books and wrote articles for the college literary magazine. Her first volume of poetry, Double Persephone, was published in 1961, the year she graduated. She went to Radcliffe and then Harvard, where she studied Victorian literature and worked as a waitress and market researcher and wrote in her free time.

While at Harvard, Atwood realized that no one had ever published a critical study of Canadian literature. She later read all she could and wrote Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972). She claimed that Canadian literature reflects a tendency of Canadians to be both victims and survivalists. The book sparked a debate and the book sold 85,000 copies within 10 years, an impressive sales record for a critical study.

With the book's success, Atwood craved privacy and moved to a 100-acre farm in Ontario to write. She published several collections of poems, including You Are Happy (1974), along with the novel The Handmaid's Tale (1985), which was a bestseller.

Margaret Atwood said, "I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most."

And: "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."

4. One of my favorite words today was the word-of-the-day on


PRONUNCIATION: (dee-fen-uh-STRAY-shuhn)

MEANING: noun: Throwing someone or something out of a window.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin de- (out of) + fenestra (window). Earliest documented use: 1620.

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