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Shakespeare 09 Excursion - MG: LITERATURE&LIFE

About Shakespeare 09 Excursion

Previous Entry Shakespeare 09 Excursion Mar. 24th, 2009 @ 09:09 pm Next Entry

Shakespeare 09 specialists went to the Shakespeare Room at the State Library today. This amazing room dedicated to the Bard on the 300th anniversary of his death pays tribute to his presence in Colonial Australia. The stained glass window in the room images the famous "All the World's a Stage" speech, which is arguably the core of Shakespeare's insight into life on this earth:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
William Shakespeare - All the world's a stage (from As You Like It 2/7)

Here are the seven stages as depicted in the stained glass window in the library (click thrice for enlargement):

We were then conducted by Ben and Kathy (from the Mitchell Library) to the library's stack holdings and also to an amazing collection of original Shakespearean manuscripts which had been brought up specially for our perusal:

Thank you to Ben and Kathy for all the hard work in setting this up for us!
We then also the highway to pay homage to the Shakespeare Sculpture which sits outside the Library above the Eastern Distributor

Shakespeare stands above several of the key characters in his play including the disreputable, but loveable Falstaff, subverter of the hierarchy.

The statue is supported by a plinth which has the other central quote from Shakespeare in which he declares his departure from the stage in The Tempest and gives a powerful expression to both the drama-like quality and the evanescence of all life:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

As a group we then wandered over to the NSW art gallery to inspect some of their Elizabethan (the first) and Renaissance holdings. Not much... but we worked together to have a great conversation on how Shakespearean themes were strongly reflected in many of these contemporary Renaissance art works.
Here is the portrait of a young man of 1610, who closely resembled the style of clothing discovered in the recent "find" of another portrait of Shakespeare himself (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article5877560.ece)

Then there was also this image of Mars and the Vestal Virgin, very reminiscent in its religious sensuosity to the imagery of Shakespeare's "Venus and Adonis"

We also discovered the amazing landscape produced almost in the exact year that Midsummer Night's Dream was composed: a landscape full of the mystery, romance and disorientation of Shakespeare's own landscape:
Leave a comment
From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 25th, 2009 11:22 pm (UTC)

Comment from Ben Clark - State Library

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Dear Michael,
Thankyou for the generous comments, and the blog's excellent.
We were a bit rushed because we have been doing programs every day for the last month, I think it has to do with the semester structure.
It's always helpful booking tours where there is focus on a particular part of the collection well in advance because of our small staff , we can then make a reasonable selection of resources.
I'm sure the students appreciate this as it provides them with an insight into what is available in the library.
Enjoy the rest of the year and we look forward to meeting again in the future.
Regards Ben
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From:michaelgriffith
Date:May 6th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Comment

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Thanks for your enthusiastic appreciation Christine. Yes I agree- I think the library did a fabulous job for us getting out all those precious manuscripts for our perusal.
MG
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