Great Shakes

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), December 31, 2015 | Go to article overview

Great Shakes


Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard

A book called "Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies" - rules for use of apostrophes apparently have changed since 1623 - published just seven years after the world-famous playwright's death, will be on display in Eugene for a month, starting Wednesday.

The U.S. tour of what's now referred to as the "First Folio," of which only 233 are believed still to be in existence, is stopping at one location in each state. After the UO won a competition, Oregon's venue is the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus.

The exhibit has a long name, "First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, on Tour From the Folger Shakespeare Library." And it's just one of the special events that will be happening during the next few weeks in honor of The Bard's local presence.

The Schnitzer museum's exhibit also will present other Shakespeare-related items, including the second and fourth folios of his collected works, illustrations of "The Tempest" by 19th century British artist Walter Crane and the first folio of plays by English playwright Ben Jonson, who was born eight years after Shakespeare and died 21 years after.

According to a PBS program about Jonson, he and Shakespeare were friends as well as competitors, with Shakespeare acting in at least one of Jonson's plays, "Every Man in His Humour."

Jonson also is credited with coining Shakespeare's most lasting epitaph, "He was not of an age, but for all time."

In addition, the UO Knight Library's Special Collections and University Archives division will present "Time's Pencil: Shakespeare After the Folio," which explores changes throughout the centuries in how Shakespeare's works were contemplated, published and performed, as well as taking a look at history's view of Shakespeare as man, actor and playwright after the publication of the First Folio.

The coordination of all these pieces of Shakespeare lore and accomplishment that brings the First Folio to the University of Oregon is the work of Lara Bovilsky, associate professor of English at the UO.

The exhibits "offer Oregonians so many exciting experiences," Bovilsky said, not only providing a glimpse of the original, centuries-old volume, but also "additional ways to enjoy and understand Shakespeare's changing, ongoing impact."

The public display of all of this material is timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, which is believed to have occurred on April 16, 1616, at age 52.

It's possible that Shakespeare died on his 52nd birthday. That's because church records at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon show an entry for Shakespeare's baptism three days later, often the interval between the two events.

Relatively little is known of Shakespeare's life, and were it not for the First Folio, much less might also be known of his work. …

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