Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Portrait of the Artist as a Real Man

Ok, this is old news by now, but I still think the whole Shakespeare portrait story was pretty cool. To think that such a painting was simply hanging in some wealthy family's home boggles my mind and makes me wonder what else is out there, waiting to be discovered.

I'm not expecting anyone to find the Holy Grail — neither literally nor metaphorically — but it would not surprise me to read about a long lost writings by Mark Twain or Emily Dickinson. I bet there's the equivalent of another few dozen clay pots full of Jesus-era writings tucked inside a long-forgotten cave or tomb in Israel somewhere. It's happened before, so why not again? Again, I'm not expecting new gospels or major discoveries, but neat old stuff. An autographed original of Milton's Paradise Lost, perhaps?

Historical discoveries help counterbalance contemporary idiots like "Octomom." (Note to the Newsweek reporter: No, we weren't wrong. The woman's insane.) I'm not convinced the world needed her right now. Wait until the economy recovers, Octomom, before you look to capitalize on your 14-strong brood. (I'm confident most literary agents understand she's not going to have an audience for a memoir.)

I look at the face in that portrait of the man we believe to be Shakespeare and wonder what he'd blog about, who he'd follow on Twitter, what he'd think of contemporary society.... The man in the portrait appears to be of his time; I'd expect Willy Shakes to be a multimedia superstar today. Writer, producer, actor, director ... a veritable Roger Corman. ;-)


Joe said...

After just finishing my art history minor this week, I was inclined to just look at the pictures and ignore the article. Art historical discovers are made all the time, though I suppose because it's the bard there's an extra level of importance to it.

I feel like manuscript discoveries are something of a morally dubious mess. If an author's work is unfinished (or intentionally left unpublished) at the time of their death-- who has the right to publish that? I wonder how Capote would react if he knew Summer Crossing was going to be published after his death?

That's not to say there aren't certain authors I'd love to see have some unpublished work come to light, I just think it's morally debatable as to if it should get published.

Matt Sinclair said...

Good comment, Joe. I immediately think of J.D. Salinger, but there must be several authors and painters who have hidden their work from the public. Indeed, my as yet unpublished novel includes a painter who refuses to show a painting that causes him to question his beliefs. (unpublished because I'm still looking for an agent.) I agree with your comment, but I'm still curious about what's out there.