Quote of the week · Reading · Writing

Quote of the Week – Shakespeare

Stormclouds gather, Collioure, September 2015

Start the year with Shakespeare, of course, and words from “The Tempest” which have blown into my mind this January morning.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

I like a good number of Shakespeare’s plays, struggle with a few, and adore one or two. “The Tempest” is one of my favourites. So much so, that my daughter is named Miranda after the leading lady (although that was inspired by John Fowles naming the lead female character in his book “The Collector” after this Shakespeare heroine). I saw an open-air production of the play in York whilst I was pregnant. It was performed in the garden of The Treasurer’s House, in the dusk of a balmy evening with bats flitting overhead and the performers entering and exiting through the audience as we sat on the grass.

On the odd occasions when my daughter complained about her name, I would happily inform her that she got off lightly, because I was intending to name her Desdemona after the character in Othello, The Moor of Venice. Naming children is a strange thing, but once you are named you become the embodiment of that name for the people who know you. My Miranda is definitely a Miranda and not a Desdemona, although had I named her Desdemona she would be the exact thing that I expect of a Desdemona. Actually, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of preconceptions with that name as virtually no-one is called it. Apparently it is considered an unlucky name, so it’s lucky I avoided it and went with one meaning “admirable, wonderful’ instead. I fully intended for Miranda to be shortened to Mindy for everyday use, but my family were so horrified by this suggestion that she always ended up being called by her full name.

In creative writing you get the chance to use lots of names, and finding a name that suits a character, or dreaming up a character to suit a name you are using, is a lot of fun. I will need to use Desdemona in a written piece, just to get her out of my head once and for all. Perhaps she can be lucky.


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