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This book has a past, which begins at least in 1995, when Elzbieta Ettinger brought out a controversial account of the unpublished correspondence between Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, but p

Love's Labour's Lost
by William Shakespeare

I have been on something of a Shakespeare comedy jag over the
past months; I laughed all the way from Columbus, Ohio, to New York
a few weeks ago, reading Love's Labor's Lost. I had read As You
Like It
just before 9/11, and had a dream one night after that day
that I was in the Forest of Arden with its population of clowns and
witty young women picking cowslips. I felt entirely exalted until I
woke up with the memory of the smoke and horror of the terrorist
attack, and the sense that the comedy somehow distilled the world we
had lost. So I read it again to keep the joy of the dream alive. And
since then I have been going through the comedies whenever I need a
happiness fix. I would love to have been part of the audience
Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote Love's Labor's Lost. There
are, in effect, two teams of extravagant talkers--the King of
Navarre and his courtiers on one side, the Princess of France with
her ladies on the other. The King and his followers have just taken
an oath to forswear contact with women for three years when the
Princess comes on some diplomatic mission; the four males fall
immediately in love with the four females, for whom they are no
match in the game of zinging witticisms past one another's ears.

Shakespeare's audience had to be able to disentangle quadruple
puns as the lines flew back and forth. It is a comedy in which, as
one of the male characters remarks, "Jack does not get his Jill."
Everyone has to take a respite of a year and a day before they will
be ready to face one another again.

I met a real life Jill not long ago--Jill Davis--who has just
published a comic novel called Girl's Poker Night. Her book too
has a team of daunting women, pessimistically looking for love. Her
heroine, Ruby Capote, might well have made good material for the
Princess of France's team of ladies who use language as a blood
sport, though mostly she talks to the reader, since the males are
more or less hopeless. In the end she opts for happiness with a man
who is far from good enough for her. But--as she observes--"Happy
endings are not for cowards."

Here, for those who frown on such light reading for these heavy
times, is a word from Hegel:

"The modern world has developed a type of comedy which is truly
comical and truly poetic. The keynote is good humor, assured and
careless gaiety, despite all failure and misfortune, exuberance and
the audacity of a fundamentally happy craziness, folly, and
idiosyncrasy in general."

Great Britain grants a homeland to the homeless Jews.

Langston Hughes on the real Harlem renaissance.

Sen. Ted Kennedy has passed away at the age of 77. This 2002 Nation profile by the late Jack Newfield captures the essence of what this legend meant to the progressive movement.

Now that women have the vote, what will they do with it?

From 1961 to 1966, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. wrote an annual essay for The Nation on the state of civil rights and race relations in America. In 1965, he wrote about the power of demonstrations and "legislation written in the streets."

Why he won't be voting in 1956.

Patricia Highsmith was a master writer of crime and suspense.

Blogs

With a new film out about Webb, Kill the Messenger, we look back at Cockburn’s testament to the investigative reporter.

October 14, 2014

And a DC lawyer reflects on his essay from 1984, when Hong Kong was “full of life.”

October 7, 2014

Contemporaneous accounts of the Roosevelts ranging over seventy years.

October 2, 2014

“How can I have seemed so settled in my opinions? So smug in my attitudes?”

September 24, 2014

A century and a half of writing on the always-possibly-imminent break-up of the United Kingdom.

September 18, 2014

The whole spat between Russia and the West could easily have been avoided.

September 8, 2014

"Outside, the ground separates, / breaking open like sores..."

September 3, 2014

A solo Koons exhibition, Danto wrote in 1989, was “a vision of an aesthetic hell.”

September 2, 2014

The Nation recognized that US isolation would be tested as never before, but didn’t even consider intervention as a possibility.

August 5, 2014

The quagmire of the Vietnam War was built on a “queasy foundation of fact and myth.”

July 31, 2014