Acquainted with Shakespeare

Henry Crawford: “Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an Englishman’s constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct.”

Edmund Bertram: “No doubt one is familiar with Shakespeare in a degree … from one’s earliest years. His celebrated passages are quoted by everybody; they are in half the books we open, and we all talk Shakespeare, use his similes, and describe with his descriptions …”

— Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Chapter 34

Jane Austen and William Shakespeare are my favorite authors. The two have frequently been compared. Jane Austen enjoyed Shakespeare (she saw the actor Edmund Kean in the role of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice at London’s Drury Lane theater — this article notes her reaction) and there are quite a number of references to his works in her novels (particularly in Mansfield Park). Now, although this blog is dedicated to Jane Austen, this post is to bring attention to a Shakespeare project.If you like Shakespeare as much as I do, you may be interested in Erin Nelsen Parekh’s new Shakespeare for Babies project. Last year, she came out with the beautiful Behowl the Moon board book, featuring a passage from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and charming illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini. Now she is using Kickstarter to fund another book using text from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. If you are interesting in being a part of this project, the fundraising is on until May 19. You can read more about it, see some of the lovely illustrations, and make a pledge on the Kickstarter page: “Shakespeare for babies: real literature to read on a lap”. Those who participate can come away with some fun rewards — copies of the book, notecards, art prints, etc. You can even be part of a scholarship to send out copies of The Wild Waves Whist “to a school, library, or kid that needs a break.” Behowl the Moon turned out delightful and, from the looks of it, The Wild Waves Whist will be just as captivating.P.S. If you enjoy both Jane Austen and Shakespeare, you may also enjoy this quiz, which I just came across, pairing Jane Austen and Shakespeare characters. I took the quiz and got 100%! The website also has a fun article showing eleven actors who have played Shakespeare and Jane Austen roles.



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