Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The New York Times and the Guardian and everyone else is vomiting in terror-stricken glee about the fact that a new portrait of William Shakespeare was just found and it’s believed to be the only one painted within his lifetime.

The Guardian says:

“We should visualise Shakespeare as a rosy-cheeked, long-nosed man who was something of a looker.”

And the Times says:

“It shows the Bard as a far more alluring figure than the solemn-faced, balding image that has been conveyed by engravings, busts and portraits that have been accepted by scholars as the best available likeness of English literature’s most famous figure.”

Then they all allude to the fact that the painting also brings into further question Shakespeare’s sexuality and I’m trying to figure out why. The main reason given is because it was commissioned by the Earl of Southampton who was Shakespeare’s literary patron and rumoured to be his lover. The way they word it it’s as though the visual properties of the painting itself are somehow telling.

My favourite part of these kind of stories where the sexuality of a prominent figure is scrutinised is when the standard self righteous reader writes a comment like “Who cares if Shakespeare was gay. He is remembered for his plays and everyone can enjoy those.” Or “Why are we talking about the sexuality of a dead man when there’s the biggest economic crisis in close to a hundred years going on right now? Thanks a lot New York Times” Plus, there has to be the requisite, “Everyone knows he was gay…get over it.”
From now on though, I will be taking the Guardian’s advice. I will visualize Shakespear as a rosy-cheeked, long nosed man who was something of a looker. Primarily because I should. [source]

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