Category: shakespeare (page 2 of 21)

Tricks, Jokes and Laughs of the Literary Kind

JokerHappy April Fools’ Day, bookworms!

No, the post is not a joke – but the literary characters featured do enjoy a good laugh. I’ve written posts for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day, so it seems fitting to celebrate some of my favorite literary tricksters since this blog post was due to be scheduled on April 1.

First, some history: April Fools’ Day is not a national holiday in any country, but instead a widely recognized day across the globe as a day to play tricks on others. Best of all? April Fools’ has some literary roots – one of the earliest recorded associations between April 1st and jokes / tricks can be found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Now, onto some literary jokers:

  • Puck, A Midsummer’s Night Dream Puck may be one of Shakespeare’s best known characters. Also known as Robin Goodfellow, Puck is named after the mischievous tricky sprites from English folklore. Through the play, Puck gleefully interferes with the humans’ complicated love rectangle and even helps Oberon play a trick on Titania. Though he does eventually undo his tricks, Puck still remains a lovable (if not entirely reliable) trickster fairy.
  • Loki, Norse Mythology – Though arguably more famous now thanks to the Avengers movie, as a literary character, Loki has long been a jester in Norse mythology. A shape-shifter who is sometimes an ally to the gods and sometimes a troublemaker, Loki is traditionally known as a joker (though scholars do debate that as well). Whatever his exact purpose, he rarely follows the rules and takes delight in befuddling others.
  • Gollum, The Hobbit – What’s a jester without his jokes and riddles? While Gollum of The Lord of the Rings is much more complicated, the Gollum Tolkien originally wrote about in The Hobbit wasn’t as attached to his ring and thus willingly started a game of riddles with Bilbo, using the ring as a prize. Though it seems like Gollum will win at first, Bilbo’s final riddle stumps him and the ring slips from his grasp.
  • Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” That pretty much sums up Zaphod, the narcissistic, irresponsibly, charismatic, and devious (former) President of the Galaxy in Douglas Adams’ wonderful science-fiction world. Zaphod isn’t known for specific jokes or tricks, but since he never takes anything seriously, including himself, it would be a shame not to include him on this list.
  • George and Fred Weasley, Harry Potter series – My favorite ginger-haired twins. From the start of Rowling’s series, Fred and George reigned supreme as the king tricksters of Hogwarts. Whether they were using the Marauder’s Map to sneak around, testing ton-tongue toffees on an unsuspecting Dudley or flying out of school in style, the Weasley twins gave the wizarding world some much-needed levity. (RIP, Fred.)

Your turn, bookworms – who are you favorite jokers and jesters from literature?

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Book News, March 8th

It’s time to lose some time, bookworms. It’s Daylight Savings Time this weekend, when most of us here in the US “spring forward” and get a lot more sunlight in the afternoon. It will be nice to have it stay lighter, later, but losing that hour is always tough. Still, with any luck, it will (finally!) start to feel like spring soon. I don’t know about you, but I am OVER this winter. I generally enjoy snow, up until mid-January. Then I’m ready for the flip flops. So anytime spring wants to come, I’ll be there. While you wait for warmer weather, read the book news:

  • Winter may be (almost?) ending for the northern hemisphere, but for the folks in Westeros, winter is still coming. When the next book comes is anyone’s guess, but while George R.R. Martin continues to write, Random House has a sneak peak at The Winds of Winter. Later this month, the Song of Ice and Fire app will be updated with an exclusive chapter – featuring fan favorite Tyrion Lannister – from the next book in the series. While there’s no news on a publication date for the book, the chapter should help keep some of the rabid fans at bay (key word: should). Entertainment Weekly has a look at the first paragraph, just in case you really can’t wait for the updated app.
  • While winter swirls in Westeros and we dream of spring, you can also start planning your summer. In late February, the Public Theater announced its 2014 Shakespeare in the Park lineup, when the theater brings some of the Bard’s best work to Central Park – and the masses – for free. (Those of you in New England should know Boston does something similar, with Shakespeare on the Commons.) This year, the theater will feature Much Ado About Nothing (alas, without all of the Whedon-verse actors) and King Lear, starring John Lithgow. More information about dates and times can be found on the Shakespeare in the Park website.
  • I read a lot (no surprise there, of course). I bet you probably read a lot, too. But do you read the most? If you live in India, you do. According to the NOP Word Culture Score Index (which looks at the media consumption habits of various countries), India tops the list when it comes to time spent reading. Citizens in India average 10.42 hours a week of reading time per person, which seems impressive to me. Thailand and China rounded out the top three. The United States, sadly, came in at number 22, with an average person reading just 5 hours and 42 minutes per week (which, actually, is not bad, but still pales in comparison to the other countries). The infographic uses a color code to highlight which countries are reading the most and it’s pretty interesting, so take a look.
  • First. It’s good to be first. In a novel, the first lines are what sets the tone for everything else that follows. So, naturally, the Internet found a way to make those first lines fun. A Twitter user named Dylan Smith started the “Novel First Lines” Twitter handle (@novelfirstlines) and will be tweeting the first lines for many novels every day for the next year. It’s a fun idea (though I have to say I’m not exactly sure I understand why he’s doing it, but whatever, it’s still fun) and a great way to discover some novels you may not have known. Smith started on March 1st, so there are just eight first lines so far, and about 340+ more to go.
  • The series may be complete, but the story is still being told. At least, in theory anyway. As a companion to her best-selling Divergent series, Veronica Roth has written a collection of short stories from Tobias (aka Four)’s perspective. There are four stories (natch), along with two exclusive scenes from the series, also from his perspective. The first story was already released last year and the other three will be published this summer when the hardcover version is released (with all four stories and the two scenes in one book). If you can’t wait that long, well, the Divergent movie will be released in a few short weeks. The ladies at Forever Young Adult had the opportunity to visit the set and talk with the actors.

As always, happy reading.

Book News, Feb. 22nd

I escaped, bookworms! This past week, I fled the cold, snowy northeast, for the warm(er) climate of Hilton Head Island, SC. It was actually quite glorious, with temperatures in the 60’s, 70’s and even in the 80’s a few days. (Yes, you can be jealous. It’s okay.) Now that I’m back in the frozen tundra of the north, I’m obviously missing the warmth, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to escape, even for a little while. I did a lot of reading (but not a lot of writing), walked, and biked. All in all, not a bad mid-winter vacation. Here’s the book news:

  • A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about J.K. Rowling’s somewhat controversial comments about Ron and Hermione. Late last week, Book Riot wrote an opinion piece on way Rowling was wrong about this particular couple – but maybe not for the reason you’d think. Book Rioter Becky Cole makes the astute point that Ron, Hermione, Harry et al were only 17 or 18 when the series ended, and yet they still ended up marrying their high school sweetheart. By adding the epilogue, Rowling takes away the possibility that our intrepid trio had the chance to experience other things – and other people. Epilogues in general are not very popular with readers (at least in the YA world), mostly because they remove the possibility of possibilities. Cole makes other good points, so you should just read her piece.
  • And since we’re on the subject on Rowling, she is planning a sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling, the novel she published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Of course, now that everyone knows to associate that name with Rowling, the sequel will likely see much more attention and press than it would otherwise. The new novel will still be published under Galbraith’s name, and will feature some of the same characters as The Cuckoo’s Calling. This novel will be Rowling’s third adult novel, including The Casual Vacancy, which was published under her own name.
  • And while Rowling is still a household name, Galbraith is still gaining traction – so a recent prize might help. Robert Galbraith (aka Rowling), John Grisham, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Rainbow Rowell were among the authors who are finalists for the 2013 LA Times Book Prize. 50 books in ten categories were announced as finalists, with contenders in (among others) fiction, current interest, history, poetry, and young adult fiction. In addition, YA author and Internet phenom John Green will be awarded the Innovators Award for his ability to use online media to reach readers and engage them. The winners will be announced in April.
  • Valentine’s Day might be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find love. There are a lot of authors who have written about love, some more convincingly than others. But the Bard – Shakespeare himself – has a long list of love stories and while you might not want to follow in Romeo and Juliet’s footsteps, there’s still lessons to learn. Language expert Anthony John Peters has a Ted-Ed video that explores Shakespeare’s use of metaphor, and how it just might help you get a date. The dating tips, however, should not be used as an excuse, if you end up failing miserably. Old Will can’t be blamed for everything, after all.
  • There is just about one month until the big screen premiere of the Divergent movie, so the clips are coming fast and furious. A recent clip features a tense showdown between Shailene Woodley’s Tris, and Kate Winslet’s Jeannine (the movie’s primary villain). The scene gives fans and newcomers alike a glimpse at both Tris’ priorities and Jeannine’s agenda, in this dystopian world where society is divided into factions. The movie will arrive in theaters in late March.

As always, happy reading.

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