Shakespeare Quotes Translated

I was taking a gander at some Shakespeare today when I realized that he made everything sound much more significant than it really was. I mean, you can take any Shakespeare quote and take it out of his phrasing and it sounds, well, like crap. That was the beauty of Shakespeare. Read on to see what I mean.

Shakespeare: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry" ~ From Hamlet

Translation: "Don't borrow or lend money. Whether you borrow or lend it, you will probably get screwed. Also, loans mess up the economy." (I am not sure on the last bit. He could have meant, "Loans make it harder to breed animals properly" or "Loans make it harder to get married.")

"The lady doth protest too much." ~ From Hamlet

Translation: "God, she whines a lot." or "Her protestations lead me to believe that she is hiding something."

Shakespeare: "Brevity is the soul of wit." ~ From Hamlet

Translation: "If the joke isn't short, it isn't funny."

Shakespeare: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions." ~ From Hamlet

Translation: "When the going gets tough, it keeps getting tougher."

Shakespeare: "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." ~ From As You Like It

Translation: "It takes a smart man to know he is an idiot."

Shakespeare: "Tempt not a desperate man." ~ From Romeo and Juliet

Translation: "It's not nice to bring beer to an AA meeting."

Shakespeare: "For you and I are past our dancing days." ~ From Romeo and Juliet

Translation: "We're old."

Shakespeare: "A plague on both your houses." ~ From Romeo and Juliet

Translation: "I hope both of you and both of your families die horrible deaths."

Shakespeare: "O my love, my wife! Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty."
~ From Romeo and Juliet

Translation: "Even though I think you're dead, I still think you're hot."

Shakespeare: "Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall." ~ From The Merchant of Venice

Translation: "How good of a person you are has no bearing on how successful you will be."

Shakespeare: "As he was valiant, I honor him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him." ~ From Julius Caesar

Translation: "I liked him, but he was getting greedy, so I had to off him." (Sounds like a line out of The Sopranos.)

Shakespeare: "There's daggers in men's smiles."

Translation: "Just because he's smiling, does not mean he will not shank you."

All translations are my own. Be advised that I only speak limited Shakespearean, so don't expect this list to be relevant or useful. (Like how I saved that for the end?)

Shelly Barclay

Brief Biography of Mark Twain

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Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Longhorne Clemens, was a successful American author. Today, Mark Twain is one of the most celebrated authors in American history. His stories represent a time in when the Mississippi River was still a place of adventure and slavery was working its way out of the system with which the still new country operated. His most famous works are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. If you have not read them, perhaps you have heard of the song Tom Sawyer by Rush? Yeah, that will tell you absolutely nothing about his character, but you have an idea of how pervasive Twain's work is.

Mark Twain was born in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835. When he was roughly 4 years old, the Clemens family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a town that would later be inextricably linked to the name Mark Twain. This move brought Mark to the river that would play a huge role in his writing career, providing the fodder for both his pen name and his most popular written works–the Mississippi.

After moving to Hannibal, Mark Twain's dad, Judge John Marshall Clemens, built a house that still stands today. He also sent his son to private school. Unfortunately, the judge died about 8 years later of pneumonia. Within the year, Twain had left private school and begun apprenticing with a printer. He apprenticed for two years before going to work at his older brother's newspaper. That lasted until he left for St. Louis at the age of 17.

If you have ever read Twain's Huck and Tom books, you know that, while his stories have a sense of nostalgia, they do not mimic his real childhood. Sure, he derives places and people from his experiences, but neither Tom nor Huckleberry had the upbringing Twain had. However, they do share a certain level of fatherlessness, which may have stemmed from Twain's own lack of a father in his teen years.

After moving to St. Louis, Mark Twain began working as a pilot on the Mississippi River. This job gave him the knowledge of the river that is apparent in some of his work. It also gave him the pen name that we know and love. Mark Twain was a term that he and other riverboaters used to signify a safe water depth for a boat to pass. He apparently enjoyed this job, but it was rendered unnecessary by the Civil War. At the onset of the war, Mark Twain returned to the newspaper biz, this time as a reporter.

In 1865, Mark Twain wrote his first popular story. In 1869, he published the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The following year, he married his wife, Olivia. He went on to travel, write a total of 28 novels and numerous other works. He and his wife had four children, only one of whom survived past her twenties. Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910, leaving a legacy of literature behind him.

Shelly Barclay


Biography of Mark Twain

First Person Plural by Cameron West

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First Person Plural by Cameron West is a powerful non-fiction novel about abuse, repressed memories and, above all, dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities). West was diagnosed with the disorder as an adult. This book chronicles the first few years of Cameron's illness. The entire book is written in first person x 24. It is really Cameron telling the story, but you get to see what many of his "guys" (multiples) have to say. What they have to say is terrifying, touching and horribly sad.

In First Person Plural, Cameron West introduces himself during a time in his life when he is very ill and is trying to maintain healthy relationships with his wife and son. He has not yet been diagnosed with DID. He suffers from a sinus condition that has nearly cost him his life. Cameron later finds out that it could have been solved by a simple allergy test. He learns to avoid eating things that trigger his sinus problems and he gradually gets better. The reader cannot help but cheer on this unassuming, obviously kind and hurting man as he starts to get better.

Unfortunately, Cameron West does not stay better for long. He ends up on a mental rollercoaster, which he conveys in a personal, revealing and undeniably readable fashion. From the moment Cam begins to feel a little strange, the book is extremely difficult to put down. Anyone who has any kind of empathy will need a box of tissues while they turn page after page hoping for some salvation for Cam, Clay, Per, Dusty, Mozart and the rest of the "guys."

One of the things that grabbed me the most about First Person Plural is how badly Cameron wants to keep his family and have a life, despite his newly found memories of sexual abuse. His plight is the mental equivalent of a quadriplegic wanting to find a way to walk properly again. He takes the reader on his path to a better life, one where he has to except his illness. He will also have his wife and son alongside him if he chooses to accept the pieces of his personality that want to live a separate existence.

Cameron West reminds the reader throughout First Person Plural that this is not drama; it is his reality. People really are hurting this deeply and need help this badly. People who look, talk or act funny because of a mental illness are not jokes, liars or "nuts." Chances are, they are normal people like you who had something terrible happen to them and/or their brain is malfunctioning. Cameron's first person plural perspective shows us what it would be like to be that person and it hurts, badly.

Shelly Barclay

Willa by Stephen King from Just After Sunset

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So, I just cracked the spine of Stephen King's Just After Sunset. Truth be told, I am an unapologetic fan of Mr. King's work. It has kept me company for most of my life and I never cease to turn to it when I want something to read that I know I will like. Therefore, I know I am going to like at least some of the stories in Just After Sunset, if not love them. As for the first story, Willa, I was surprisingly not overly impressed.

Willa starts as the story of a man whose wife has left the little station where they were waiting for a train. He goes out looking for her and learns an astonishing truth when he finds her. Truth be told, there simply was not enough build up to this revelation for it to be shocking or even enjoyable. I was unable to relate to the characters, due to a lack of depth. Nonetheless, the story was a Stephen King story and so it was not terrible by a long shot.

I will keep this review short, as Willa itself is very short. I will add that there is some imagery in the story that is creepy, so it makes it readable (of course). Oh, and one cannot forget the token creepy little girl.

Shelly Barclay

A look at Courage in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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In many ways, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a novel about courage. At the very least, courage is one of the central themes. Nearly every individual displays in some way or another. In some cases, the characters are so courageous as to be almost unbelievable. However, any person who is familiar with the time period in which To Kill a Mockingbird is set will know that the type of bravery portrayed in To Kill a Mockingbird was necessary in the U.S. at the time. Therefore, it was relatively commonplace, though not nearly enough. Here are just a few examples of courage in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.


There are three children in To Kill a Mockingbird who can certainly be considered brave. They are Jem and Scout Finch and Dill Harris. Jem and Scout bravely defend their father while he goes against the wishes of nearly every citizen in Maycomb (the small southern town in which the novel is set). There are many other examples of their bravery throughout the book, but their defense of their father is a common theme. Dill is a wayward boy who likes to make up stories to make himself look grander and who has a very confusing home life. His courage comes from that very act. Sure, lying is not the most moral thing to do. However, Dill does it to keep his head above the water in order to be happier than he might be without his grandiose dreams and stories. His courage is that which he needs to live his life.

One of the most courageous and respectable characters in To Kill a Mockingbird is Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout's father. Atticus is a lawyer who is defending a black man accused of raping a young Maycomb woman. His client did not do it, and Atticus seems to know it. He is determined to seek justice to the best of his ability, despite the fact that he is being targeted for his anti-racist views. Atticus Finch is one of the most courageous characters in the history of fiction.

There are three neighbors of the Finch's who are also very brave, in their own unique ways. They are Boo Radley, Maudie Atkinson and Mrs. Lafayette Dubois. Boo Radley was a recluse; no one was sure why. However, when he was needed by the Finch children, he left his house to help, despite his reasons for hiding in his home literally all the time. Maudie Atkinson displayed her courage by being outspoken, fearless and yet extremely kind. Mrs. Lafayette Dubois was a different kind of courageous. She was cantankerous, rude, bigoted and spiteful. However, it is shown that her attitude had a lot to do with her addiction to morphine, which she struggles painfully to kick during the last days of her life.

Two other brave characters from To Kill a Mockingbird who are worth mentioning are Mayella Ewell and Tom Robinson. Mayella is the young girl who has wrongfully accused Tom of rape. Her actions are unforgivable. However, her character is courageous. She was really being raped by her father and yet she stood strong for her younger siblings, who she was raising. She is both a villain and a hero. Tom is the brave soul who has been forced to accept his fate. His courage lies in his acceptance of the fact that a black man is not going to get a fair trial in Maycomb.

Within these characters lies the rich vein of courage that runs prominently through Harper Lee's only novel, the masterpiece that is To Kill a Mockingbird. Each one of them could have carried a novel of their own. Together, they carry one of the best American novels ever written.

Shelly Barclay

The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft

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In Cracked Spines' first H.P. Lovecraft review, we discussed the short story The Statement of Randolph Carter. Today, we are going to look at Lovecraft's haunting short story The Outsider. This story is often touted as one of Lovecraft's best, though, like the narrator is this story, I find it difficult to describe. Therefore, there will be very little summary with this review. You will just have to read and interpret The Outsider for yourself.

The Outsider is narrated by a male person (whether he is still a boy, a teen, an adult or an old man is unclear). This person has no idea how he came to be where he is and knows little of his own circumstances. All we (and he) know is that he has been in a dank old castle for as long as he can remember. He knows very little about human contact or even if he has ever had such a thing. My reaction to this character was to feel sorry for the sensory deprivation to which he appears to have been subjected to for the whole of his life.

H.P. Lovecraft has created a desperate creature in the narrator of The Outsider. Naturally, the narrator wants to escape to a place where there is light and freedom. However, the reader soon realizes that there is nothing natural about his prison. Lovecraft's description of The Outsider's attempt at freedom brought to mind Dali paintings for some reason. I suppose it has something to do with the crazed unreality of his surroundings.

Things only get worse for Lovecraft's hopeful and hopeless narrator. All I can say is that there is no way to imagine that his plight is a happy one, no matter how vague it is to the reader. This story is much like The Masque of Red Death in that one does not know the horror the characters, or in this case the character, endures, but you can guess. In my mind, and each of you will have your own interpretation, our narrator is trapped in something of a house of mirrors. He may be able to peep out and scare those who truly live, but he is but an outsider who will inevitably be brought back into his prison.

Shelly Barclay

The Statement of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft

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H.P. Lovecraft's The Statement of Randolph Carter is a very short, very enigmatic story. It is, as the title suggests, the statement of a man named Randolph Carter. After reading for a moment or two, the reader comes to realize that Randolph Carter is being questioned about the disappearance of his friend Harley Warren. The reader is not privy to any questions he has been asked or who is questioning him. The entirety of the story is Carter's statement regarding what he remembers taking place before the abovementioned disappearance.


Randolph Carter explains that he and Harley Warren were investigating something that the reader must assume is paranormal in nature. The investigation was mostly Warren's doing, with Randolph acting as something of an assistant. Warren takes Carter to an ancient graveyard in the woods. He says only that he is seeking something terrible, and that he wishes for Carter to keep a safe distance. Lovecraft never once describes precisely what Warren is seeking nor what he finds. We only know that Warren was unable to help his friend and whatever entity they were seeking told Randolph Carter that Harley Warren is dead. The entity does not reveal itself to Carter at this time, but it may have later. Carter had no recollection beyond the moment he learns of his friend's demise.

H.P. Lovecraft never reveals what happened to Harley Warren or Randolph Carter for that matter. He never says what was lurking in that graveyard or if Carter was able to contain it before he got away. For all the reader knows, the entity or entities was let loose and could be stalking Randolph Carter as he speaks. The absence of a description of the horror that these two men came upon makes it almost worse than any horror that can be described. That's Lovecraft for you.

Shelly Barclay

The Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

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As a lover of horror fiction, Stephen King is something of a god to me. Throughout my reading life, he has cranked out novel after novel for my reading pleasure. Nary a year has passed when Stephen King has not given me a new book to read. Therefore, it never ceases to surprise me when I find old school Stephen King books that I have not read. Every time I find and read one, I think, "That is it. I have read every Stephen King novel." Then he writes something else or I find some other Stephen King horror story. Such was the case yesterday when I stumbled upon Stephen King's The Cycle of the Werewolf in my local library. I cracked the spine the moment I got home and finished within the hour. As with most Stephen King writings, I enjoyed it.

The Cycle of the Werewolf is one of Stephen King's short novels. However, it is highlighted by illustrations by none other than Berni Wrightson. Berni Wrightson is a talented comic book and horror illustrator.

It is an understatement to say that werewolves never scared me. Maybe it is my love of dogs, but of all the supernatural monsters out there, werewolves seemed the least threatening and most comic to me. Thanks for changing that, Stephen King. The Cycle of the Werewolf is not the scariest Stephen King novel by a long shot, but he took one of the scariest creatures in the world and made it a werewolf to boot. (Spoiler alert) The book's werewolf is a minister! I know, scary.

Stephen King has always had a way of making the supernatural more human. He takes horrifying situations and does not produce superheroes to combat them. He takes flawed, small town people and makes them victims and heroes, but no one is perfect. Even the hero has his own very human problems. In this case, the hero is a little boy who is confined to a wheelchair for life. However, this boy has the nerve to stand up to the wereminister who is terrorizing his town.

It is always nice to get a lengthy Stephen King novel, but The Cycle of the Werewolf was satisfying in its brevity. It was broken up into twelve parts, each representing a month. The action was nearly constant and the end was not long in coming. It was like a Stephen King quickie, or nooner, if you will. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you get a chance to crack the spine of The Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King, let me know what you thought about it in the comments section.

Shelly Barclay

Haunted Massachusetts by Thomas D'Agostino

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Haunted Massachusetts by Thomas D'Agostino is a "non-fiction" book about haunted places in Massachusetts. Before I go any further, I have to admit to Cracked Spines' readers that I am an unabashed skeptic. I have seen things that I could have easily written off as paranormal, but I do not believe for a second that there are ghosts. I believe that those who claim to have seen ghosts are doing what I refused to do–explaining away perfectly normal things by attributing them to lost spirits. That being said, I love a good ghost story. Having been born and raised in Massachusetts, it is hard for me not to be interested in ghost stories, especially historic ones and Haunted Massachusetts is full of them.

Sadly, Haunted Massachusetts by Thomas D'Agostino was very predictable for me. It contained an awful lot of "orb" talk and unconfirmed rumors that explained supposed hauntings. For me, that is not enough. I have taken plenty of pictures with orbs in them–none in places that are so much as rumored to be haunted. I could easily concoct a story about a dastardly deed that was committed in one of these innocuous places and poof! you have a ghost story. You are going to have to do better than that, Mr. D'Agostino.

Now, Thomas D'Agostino did pick up on the fact that you do not have to rely on rumors to write a good book about hauntings in Massachusetts. Enough bad things have happened in this commonwealth without making stuff up. We have Salem, the home of the Salem Witch Trials. We have Boston, which is also connected to the Salem Witch Trials and has been the scene of countless murders on top of an American Revolution battle or two. Haunted Massachusetts touches on some of these places where confirmed murders have taken place. Are they haunted? I doubt it, but the energy the history of these places gives off almost guarantees that people will think they are.

If you are a ghost enthusiast, this book is so-so. It contains a lot of good locations and information about how to get there, but you could get a guidebook for that. I would prefer a Stephen King book, for to me, Haunted Massachusetts might as well be labeled fiction for the amount of rumor to be found within.

Shelly Barclay

Tsar by Peter Kurth

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Tsar: The Lost World of Nicolas and Alexandra is a non-fiction book by Peter Kurth. It tells the tale of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov's romance from start to finish. It even goes back into their respective childhoods, though only briefly. The story of the Romanovs is one that needs little embellishment to be made interesting. Peter Kurth portrays the reality in such a way that the reader cannot help but become engrossed in the tragedy of this royal family.

One of the first things readers will notice is the number of photographs in Peter Kurth's book. The man behind these photographs is Peter Christopher. The photos that Peter included of the grand duchesses and the tsarevitch (Nicholas and Alexandra's children) are all at once adorable, fascinating and haunting. Anyone familiar with the story knows that most, if not all, of the Romanov children were brutally murdered alongside their parents. Their charming appearance and evident innocence is revealed in these photos and they leave one wondering what kind of monsters could do this to a loving family. The answer is not hard to come by–The Bolsheviks.

While Peter Christopher's story unfolds in a seemingly endless parade of attention-grabbing photography, Peter Kurth provides what history is available to explain these pictures. In Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra, he is able to present Nicholas and Alexandra's lack of political tact from a sympathetic point of view. He does the same when describing Alexandra's stiff posture and unsmiling face. Many thought of her as a snob. Peter goes back to her childhood and declares her shy and saddened from a childhood of tragedy.

Peter Kurth manages to describe the Romanov children with what little information is available given their mostly secluded lives. What is known of them is known mostly through their correspondence with each other. In this correspondence, they are unfailingly loving and dedicated to their families. In including this alongside photos of their beautiful faces, Peter has shown just how far removed from the turmoil of the Romanov's Russia these children were. Their murders were a form of vengeance; what did these children do to deserve it? Peter's answer (and the one that is most obviously true): nothing. The Romanov children did nothing to deserve their end. In fact, Alexei's invalidity and the girls' lack of involvement in politics should have saved them from their fate.

In Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra, Peter Kurth is opinionated, at times but always sympathetically so, which gives heart to this sad story. Peter is the defender of the Romanovs on every page, but he still manages to add all the facts about the serious mistakes they made during Nicholas' reign. The only other criticism that can be made about this informative and infinitely readable book is that it is sometimes lacking in useful chronology. For the most part, it barges along in chronological order, but there are brief snippets that are out of chronology and do not include helpful dates. Therefore, as a research book, it would require the reader to use additional sources. Apart from that, it is a wonderful book that anyone with an interest in the Romanovs would enjoy.

Shelly Barclay

Analysis and Review of The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen

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The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen is the story of Sofonisba Anguissola–a female Renaissance painter. Alongside her story is that of Elisabeth de Valois and King Philip II of Spain. There is a bit about Michelangelo and his apprentice Tiberio Calcagni. Most of the plot of the story is pure fiction, though the people, places and some of what takes place is fact as far as the historical account of things goes.

The Creation of Eve begins with Sofonisba Anguissola learning her trade from Michelangelo alongside Tiberio Calcagni, with whom she has an affair. Most of the story Lynn Cullen creates surrounding this period in Sofonisba's life is conjecture and fiction. As far as we know, Sofonisba Anguissola's training with Michelangelo was very limited and brief. Furthermore, there is no historical record of her even meeting Tiberio Calcagni, let alone having a love affair with him. The story of their love affair is central to the plot of most of The Creation of Eve and it almost certainly never took place.

Characters in the book also make accusations against Michelangelo, saying that Tiberio was his lover. While Michelangelo may have been homosexual and certainly wrote love poetry to men, Tiberio was not necessarily the recipient of these poems. Tiberio meets his end at the hand of Inquisitors in The Creation of Eve. In reality, the cause of his death is unknown. If he was accused of a crime and died at the hand of Inquisitors, there would likely be a record of it.

Because of all these glaring inaccuracies, The Creation of Eve should not be taken as a historical account. It is well written and intriguing because of these famous characters, but it is almost offensive in the liberties Lynn Cullen takes with the lives of these people. Long dead or not, portraying their lives as utterly shameful (by Renaissance standards) is a little off-putting to me.

In The Creation of Eve, Sofonisba Anguissola leaves Michelangelo because she has had sexual relations with Calcagni. As far as we know, she left because Michelangelo was little more than an acquaintance. Anguissola put a lot of stock in her virginity and most likely did not give it up before she was married. Soon after she completes all of her training, she goes to the Spanish Court to act as lady in waiting and painting instructor to Elisabeth de Valois. This is accurate. In fact, a lot of what happens in the Spanish Court part of The Creation of Eve is accurate. The characters, some of the drama and the disease suffered by Elisabeth are real. However, much intrigue is not.

Lynn Cullen creates an affair between Elisabeth de Valois and King Philip II's "bastard" half brother, Don Juan. This most likely did not take place and certainly did not take place as Lynn Cullen describes it in The Creation of Eve. Don Juan may have loved Elisabeth, but there is no record of it other than an argument that reportedly took place at Elisabeth's funeral. There is also a similarity between one of Elisabeth's daughters and Don Juan. This could be explained by the fact that he was the girl's uncle.

The Creation of Eve is an enjoyable book when taken as fiction. However, those looking for historically accurate portrayals of the people therein should look further than Lynn Cullen's writing.

Shelly Barclay