Some Shakespeare for your Saturday

So, today, April 23, is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and according to some sources, his birthday as well! To honor the Bard in a small way, here are his first and last sonnets.


From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

The first sonnet is addressed to a male friend of Shakespeare’s. He’s trying to convince his friend to have children, so his beauty and legacy can live on. He’s urging his friend not to be niggardly and end his family’s line, that it would be “cruel” to the world. Wouldn’t this sonnet convince you to have children? 😉
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Lit Ink, or, the Bookish Tattoo

Here are my favorite bookish tattoos I’ve come across from rummaging around the Internet. The first one is my desktop background right now. I love the placement of the piece and just the framing of the picture in general. If you had to get a tattoo like this one, which author’s face would you get? I would probably get Lord Byron or something, just so I could stare at that face all the time 😉 .

Some of these are so creative with design and placement. It’s giving me dangerous ideas.


Agatha Christie


Dr. TJ Eckleburg’s eyes from The Great Gatsby


Pemberley! Or what inspired Pemberley, Chatsworth House in Devon.


Another Pride and Prejudice-inspired one! So lovely.


I like this one, but it’s a bit too big for my taste.


Recognize this? It’s from The Velveteen Rabbit! That book made me cry when I was a child.




Another awesome Harry Potter one


Peter Pan!


Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


I like this Pride and Prejudice quote, but I don’t like how it’s spoken by Charlotte. This is one of her wiser quotes, though.


And a dramatic one, from Wuthering Heights. I do love Catherine as a character, and this is one of her more insightful lines from the book.

Would you get any of these?

most of these are from this Buzzfeed post and this Tumblr page

A New Elizabeth I, courtesy of Margaret George

I suppose it was only a matter of time before pseudo-biographer and talented historical fiction author Margaret George took on the enormous task of Elizabeth I. She’s a historical figure so exhaustively portrayed in literature and film yet so little truly understood (which is, perhaps, her appeal). I’ve avoided novels about Elizabeth since I read Jean Plaidy’s Queen of This Realm when I was in high school and the last biopic I saw was the one starring Helen Mirren (which I enjoyed). Because of all the tropes and cliches and crap people believe about her, it’s much more interesting to me to read history and historical debate to hear the story. However, since I’ve read George before without disgust, I though this one was worth a shot. 

elizabeth1-reviewJust like her novel about Helen of Troy, Elizabeth I was interesting and enjoyable, but not extraordinary and sometimes bordering on too sentimental. Elizabeth I was devilishly interesting because of her complicated personality and her all-too-obvious human weaknesses; coupled with her larger-than-life persona, it’s no wonder flocks of people in the past five hundred years have been enchanted with her. George dulls her down, to the extreme. The first problem is with the period she chose. Gloriana is older, and all the important and interesting stuff is over. The Armada is defeated, Leicester is dead, Elizabeth absolutely detests his widow Lettice, Essex isn’t es-sexy (which in my mind, he always was, probably because of Hugh Dancy’s swoon-inducing portrayal in the aforementioned Mirren biopic), and Shakespeare figures in such a way that borders on literary blasphemy (I’m Catholic: I know what I’m talking about).

So, in short, not a great read. The writing is sort of juvenile, and like the Helen novel, I finished reading with no more real insight into the psychology and personality of Elizabeth I, which is what good historical fiction should do. It’s deemed problematic by some, but good historical fiction should make the reader believe that this version, if not true, is at least believable. George fails at that, sadly. Much better is Jean Plaidy’s Queen of This Realm. I haven’t touched it since I was fourteen but I still remember the striking characterization of Elizabeth and how her narration perfectly explicated her complex personality. The narrator-Elizabeth would split her personality into Rational and Emotional, and she knew herself so well that I was convinced I knew the real Elizabeth. That’s what good historical fiction ought to be capable of. The novel also canvasses the whole of Elizabeth’s life accurately, succinctly, and without rush: no mean feat. Really, I should read that book again. #TeamPlaidy

The one scene I loved most in the novel was ridiculous and purely sentimental; however, I loved it because I am a fan of Anne Boleyn (not “The Tudors” kind, although I do love Natalie Dormer for her historical knowledge and savvy portrayal in the second season). The scene is when Elizabeth visits Hever Castle and becomes very emotional at the place where her mother was born and grew up. Having visited Hever Castle, I can imagine Elizabeth wanting to go there to be close to Anne, even if she never got the chance (she probably couldn’t show emotional support for her mother during her lifetime; evidence shows E. was not chatty about her mother, though a ring she had cast features a hidden portrait of Anne inside, showing how much Elizabeth must have cherished the memory of her mother).


a photo from my visit to Hever Castle

So, that’s it. One scene in this novel had me cheering, but I think this novel has proven my skepticism toward faux biographies about behemoth historical figures. Next: The Memoirs of Cleopatra!

another one because pretty

another one because pretty

really, this place is gorgeous

really, this place is gorgeous