Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Folger Shakespeare Library and its Digital Texts

The texts are all here.  For example, Troilus and Cressida is there for the reading - and for the downloading.

You can also buy the play in "mass market paperback" with essays, etc., and etc (416 pages! where the play itself takes up 33 pages - two columns each- in my Oxford edition of the "complete works") or in ebook form from Simon & Schuster or, of course, from Amazon.

All sorts of resources are at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

As a Snail through Troilus

With the assembly of my Shakespeare "hard copy" library commenced, and the creation of my digital library also underway, I have begun with Troilus and Cressida.  That is where Professor Garber starts with the on-line lectures that I mentioned, and so that it is where I start.  As she directs, I am to first read the play, then read her discussion of that play in her Shakespeare After All, and finally listen to her lecture. This could take a while.  Really take a while.

I started Troilus Tuesday.  I am still in Act 1 and only in Scene 3.  It takes intellectual stamina and endurance and, of course, time.  The stamina and endurance should improve, but just the frequent reference to the glossary slows one down, and the cake-metaphor in Scene 1 has sent me on a side trip to internet resources to plumb its meaning.  Why would S. plant it so squarely in the play's very first scene of this story about young love (Troilus and Cressida) in Troy during the Trojan War?  (No recourse to Garber's discussion at this point.  I want to see what I can see myself, before entering her class.  If the rest of her is like her introductory lecture, she bowls you over with her views of the subject.  Let me get ready for that.)

So the cake metaphor.  And here's a resource!  "A Cake-Making Image in Troilus and Cressida," by Beryl Rowland in the Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Spring, 1970), pp. 191-194.  I can read this via JSTOR:

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico.

Whether JSTOR is the best for this sort of thing or not, that is where I found the Beryl Rowland reference, and JSTOR offers without charge to non-academic individuals access to three of its titles at a time for a month.

Of course, I knew something was up with the cake metaphor from the beginning.  Not only is its early prominence a signal, but its use by the older man in counseling the younger about patience in winning his true love, especially the use of the word "grinding," had to point away from the kitchen and into the bedroom.  Rowland sees that and offers much more.  Central to the metaphor is that the cake is a wedding cake, used in ancient Rome during the ceremony for a particular kind of marriage.  (Thus, anachronism.  Garber says to watch for those kinds of things, unless Rome got its cake from the Greeks.)

So, then, should I retire, what shall I do?  Read Shakespeare.  That will fill up the time.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hello, Bradycardia.

WebMD has an easy to read introduction to "bradycardia" and the article's links bring one quickly up to spead in a simple way about what can be a symptom of "an aging heart."  "Brady" comes from the Greek word bradys  for "slow" and "cardia" from the Gr. word kardia for "heart."  So an aging heart can be a slow heart, slow in the sense that it beats slower than the normal 60 beats per minute or 60 bpm.  Symptoms of a slow and aging heart include fatigue and "syncope," a word used by Greeks for a "fainting spell or swoon."

(I have these derivations of medical terms from a helpful little book at hand by William S. Haubrich, M.D., entitled Medical Meanings: A Glossary of Word Origins (Second Edition 1997)  I found it  in the bookstore at the UR medical school, when Mary moved there from Byrn Mawr.  We were first in that store because that is where the med school kept its sales inventory of new white coats for its first year students, and there Mary tried her's on for the first time.  But I digress.)

A slow heart can be a sign of a very fit heart.  But in my case, we surely have an aging heart.  It may be a relatively fit heart, but aging trumps fit sometimes, and it does in my case.  So, hello, aging heart bradycardia.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hoist on My Own Petard and William Shakespeare

A friend of mine and I have been exchanging emails about the Psalms.  The Sunday School class that I am privileged to teach embarked on a study of the Psalms at the beginning of the summer.  We consider a new Psalm each week and started with Psalm 1.  We are proceeding according to the Psalm number in the Psalter.  (This coming Sunday is Psalm 11.) The friend, who is from out of town and a Christian, came to one of our class meetings while visiting Miami, and we have been exchanging emails about the "Psalm of the week" since then.   (My friend and I often disagree on important ideas.  Sometimes I think the disagreement arises from the word choices I use, but sometimes not.)  The other day I cited some scripture during an email to my friend, and I realized that it supported an important point she had been trying to get me to see.  At the end of the email, I confessed, "Hoist on my own petard."

All of which is to say that the use of that saying has pointed me back to Shakespeare, and now I am heading back to his plays after nearly 50 years.  (That's how long since my sophomore year at Duke, when "I took the course," as if that completed anything.)  Not that I was aware that the source of "Hoist on my own petard" was Macbeth.  In responding to my email, my friend ended her response with thanks for my pointing her to Shakespeare.  I thought, "what?!"  Did I ever know that?

So, naturally, I am undertaking a Shakespeare journey.  Here is what I have equipped myself with: (a) The Oxford Shakespeare: the Complete Works 2nd Edition; (b) Shakespeare's Words: A Glossary and Language Companion; and (c)  Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All.  In addition, Professor Garber has lectures on YouTube, and I so far I have watched this introductory one.  She is simply wonderful.

(Despite my links to Amazon, I bought what I could in used books, when the economics make sense.  I use,, and, increasingly, Amazon's own used book offerings.)

"Tobacco giant defeats suit brought by family of Bay of Pigs veteran" but not Austin

My friend, Austin Carr, who is a "plaintiff's lawyer," recently tried a products liability case against a tobacco company in Circuit Court here in Miami-Dade County, representing the family of a husband and father who died of emphysema.  On August 18, the Miami Herald had an excellent article by Carol Rosenberg on the trial.  I have reproduced all of the article below, because I am afraid that the Herald at some point will kill the link, and I want to keep the article.  It is so well written: tight, deeply informative, and fair.  And Austin comes off as he is, a fine lawyer who keeps to the facts, and has the courage to take a case that many would decline because of its difficulty and uncertainty.

A Miami jury sided with R.J. Reynolds Tuesday against the family of a former Bay of Pigs prisoner who smoked for five decades then died of emphysema at age 87.

The jury of six ruled the tobacco giant was not responsible for the October 2005 death of Renato Santos, who had quit cigarettes when he was diagnosed with emphysema in 1990. The product liability case, first filed by the Santos family on Jan. 9, 2008, had sought $16 million.

Santos started smoking as a teen in Cuba and became a pack-and-a half a day Pall Mall smoker, said the family’s lawyer Austin Carr. “The jury found that he was not addicted, I believe, principally because he never attempted to quit until he was diagnosed,” the lawyer said.

The suit was the latest in a series seeking damages following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision, Engle v. Liggett Group, which threw out a $145 billion class-action verdict against cigarette makers and set the stage for individuals to sue.

Carr described the smoker as a Bay of Pigs veteran who left Cuba months before the ill-fated April 1961 invasion, trained in Central America and then invaded his island. He was held prisoner until the United States exchanged food and medicine for the men in December 1962. In Miami, he had 10 children, Carr said, and worked as a carpenter on yacht interiors.

At the trial, which started last week, the family stipulated that Santos was partly at fault. In July, Circuit Court Judge Peter Lopez ruled for the tobacco company that Santos was to some degree responsible “less than 100 percent ... for causing his smoking-related injuries.” Carr said Tuesday that his side argued “it takes a smoker and a cigarette maker, and we believe that R.J. Reynolds should have had some percentage of fault in the case. They made the dangerous product that they asked their customers to smoke.”

Rebeca Santos, the dead smoker’s daughter, brought the case on behalf of her 84-year-old mother, whom Carr said does not speak English but attended the trial.

He argued that Santos became a smoker at a time when it was common. “Doctors smoked. Nurses smoked. Patients smoked in the hospital,” he told the jury. “It was a completely different culture back in those days.”

Austin has several more of these kinds of cases lined up for trial over the next six months.  Don't sleep so soundly, Big Tobacco.

Read more here: