Memories

9th April 2012

The detail above from the sheet music for Cole Porter’s 1949 Kiss Me Kate comes from a rich online (and real world) exhibition (until 4 June) at Yale University’s Beinicke Library. Remembering Shakespeare details ‘the process of remembering that has allowed Shakespeare to be transformed from one of a number of talented writers for an emerging entertainment industry in Elizabethan England into the best-known and most highly valued author in the history of the world.’ The exhibits at Yale are mostly printed books and illustrations of various kinds, and as such are perfect for reproduction on the web. So the online offering feels like a genuine complement – and not just a second-order, and as a consequence inferior, experience.

The online exhibition is divided into seven sections, each of which contains a wealth of fascinating exhibits. Editions of the plays and poems – authorised, bowdlerised, restored – are shown alongside images of monuments, playbills and early tourist trivia from Stratford-upon-Avon. And there’s a terrific blog written by grad student Matt Hunter that each day highlights one of the exhibits and provides a little context.

Remembering Shakespeare is curated by David Scott Kastan and Kathryn Jones, who are also the authors of the eponymous illustrated book that accompanies the show – which is handsome but a bit pricey at £18.99 (currently with a modest reduction on Amazon.co.uk). For a review of the exhibition (as well as of the Yale Center for British Art show Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, previously seen at the RA) from The New York Times, go here.

As for Kiss Me Kate, here – you lucky people – is the immortal ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ from the 2001 Broadway revival, with lines as memorable anything by the Bard…

Just recite an occasional sonnet
And your lap’ll have ‘Honey’ upon it.

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