Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Billy the Bard on the Booze?

This probably won't wash with purists who like to think of Billy the Bard as unassailably perched atop his pedestal, but it seems that some of the crappiest lines might have been written while he was hung over! Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of the Globe reckons that there are "Monday morning lines" in Shakespeare's masterpieces.

So which lines were probably written under the influence? John Sutherland has a whole list of candidates in the Guardian.

More discussion of Shakespeare the Boozer on Michael Prescott's blog.

And I love this poem pete the parrot and shakespeare by humourist DonMarquis which depicts our Bill sobbing on Ben Johnson's shoulder down at the Mermaid Tavern, lamenting about how all he wants is to be a poet when he has to keep churning out plays. There could be some truth in it.


Krishna said...

Genius locked in a mind-vault, unleashed by a shot of whisky, a sniff of coke or an injection of morphine to wreak creative havoc.

It's interesting how alcohol and drugs seem to be the key to sparking inspiration bordering on the sublime in so many talented people( usually men, another interesting point).And it cuts across cultures and artistic endeavours of all kinds: American film maker Sam Peckinpah was usually sozzled on the set of his acclaimed masterpiece "The Wild Bunch", Kannadasan, a prolific song-writer for Tamil Films penned most of his acclaimed lyrics under a whisky induced haze, Stephen King couldn't remember much of "Cujo" as it was written during the height of his drug binge, Edgar Allan Poe probably owes his nightmarish prose to more than a few chemicals ingested illegally.And the list goes on....

Sigh! If only repeated shots of Jim Beam had the same effect on me.

bibliobibuli said...

alchohol and i suppose the rest lower inhibitions and that may make it easier to write less self-consciously

trouble is if you always rely on such substances - how do you write without them?

quite a number of writers (up to 50% of poets, it's been estimated) are also depressives/manic-depressives - a group which tend to self-medicate with drugs and alchohol, so maybe there's also that overlap

Anonymous said...

MD has been largely mischaracterized in the press. Generally if you're clinically depressed, it doesn't mean you're sad all the time. It just means your feelings are all out of control. Sometimes you're ecstatic for what appears to be no apparent reason, other times you're suicidal. A lot depend on drugs to simply survive. Some just write when they're feeling great. Others just have the ability to push through the fog. Others just write what they feel, which results in some of the best books around.

Anonymous said...

"quite a number of writers (up to 50% of poets, it's been estimated) are also depressives/manic-depressives"

That explains why sequels are never any good. After you make your first ten million it's hard to be depressed any more (or maybe you can now afford a psych and good medication) :)