February 10th, 2008

Shakespeare's Wife

Shakespeare's Wife, Germaine Greer  (Bloomsbury 2007) 

Who was Ann Shakespeare? We really don't know. Not even her birth date is secure. Generations of Shakespeare scholars have blackened her reputation to make her absentee husband look good. Germaine Greer thinks this in grossly unfair. And quite right too.

Trouble is there's no evidence either way . Greer dervives a high doctrine of marriage from the plays and argues that certain of the more deeply felt sonnets were written by Shakespeare to his wife. And that's it really- a couple of chapter's worth of solid, literary scholarship. The rest is conjecture and social history- Anne may have done this, she may have felt that.  I ploughed laboriously through the first chapter- an almost unreadable chronicle of ancestral Hathaways- their hatchings, matchings and despatchings- and decided this was a book for skimming.

Roman Holiday

We're at the start of the New Elizabethan age. 1953. A young princess slips away from her minders and gets to have a day's worth of innocent fun in Rome. Her companion- a cynical American journalist- sets out intending to exploit her, then falls in love and buries his exclusive. Of course the romance has no future.

The Princess is Audrey Hepburn. The story goes that Greg Peck insisted on her getting equal star billing.  It was intended as his vehicle; it becomes hers. And not just because she's so lovely, but also because she's such a deft comedian.

A gentle, charming little movie- bitter-sweet- but with pertinent things to say about royalty and the media. There's a paparazzo in it- only the term hadn't been coined yet. The sequence in which the Princess takes off recklessly on a vespa with the photographer in pursuit is prescient.

How long before Hollywood orders up a remake?