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On His 450th Birthday: Imagining Shakespeare “Within the Consciousness of Our Country”

I think Americans will be fascinated to learn of our deep and early connection to the Bard, how he inspired presidents and incited mobs, and how vivid the legacy of…

Nights of Wonder: Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Hollywood and Beyond

The reading of this play is like wandering in a grove by moonlight …. —William Hazlitt (1817) Hazlitt ends his short essay on A Midsummer Night’s Dream by suggesting that…

Shakespeare in America: A Tale of Two Stratfords on Paul Robeson’s Birthday

In his introduction to Shakespeare in America: An Anthology from the Revolution to Now (Library of America $29.95), James Shapiro writes of the “steady stream of American tourists” visiting the…

Pairings and Passings: It’s Never Too Late to Read Julian Moynahan (1925-2014)

I watched him work in the back house where his study was located, his silver hair framed by the window and I wished I had something interesting to tell him.…

Found by Robert Frost On the Poet’s Birthday, or Adventures in a Parked Car

Every time I pull into a parking lot, regardless of the season, I notice people just sitting in their cars, probably texting, or surfing the net, or talking on cell…

The Poe Perplex: A Homeless Poet Worth His Weight in Gold Haunts the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale

Ten years ago, in the March 31, 2004 issue of Town Topics, I wrote my first column about the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale (BM-W), “Billy Collins and the Homeless Poets…

Out of Darkness Into Light with Alain Resnais (1922-2014), the Poet Laureate of Memory

… Hiroshima is a film about which you can say everything. —Eric Rohmer Coming out of Hiroshima mon amour (1959) into a sunny summer day in Manhattan, still deep in…

Oscar Night 2014 — Ellen and Shakespeare Bring the Glamour Down to Earth

In the afterglow of the Oscars, with Shakespeare’s 450th birthday approaching, the time is right for a column about actors and acting, not just on the stage and screen, but…

It Hurts So Good — Sid Caesar and The Essence of Laughter

Fabulous creations, beings whose authority and raison d’être cannot be drawn from the code of common sense, often provoke in us an insane and excessive mirth, which expresses itself in…

Watching Shirley Temple’s Breakthrough Film and Finding a Fallen Star

She totally disarms you — she lifts you off your feet. —H.G. Wells, circa. 1934 Wells’s choice of words is curious, since Shirley Temple was usually the one being lifted…

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