A tempest over Bard's biz head

Posted: April 02, 2013

IT'S TAKEN a little more than 500 years to get to the root of William Shakespeare's personality, but it turns out he was a bastard.

According to a group of academics, the Bard was more Shylock than Puck, a ruthless businessman - hoarder, moneylender, tax dodger - who grew wealthy dealing in grain during a time of famine.

You thought he just wrote plays, but researchers from Aberystwyth University, in Wales, argue that we can't fully understand Shakespeare unless we study his often-overlooked business savvy.

"Shakespeare the grain-hoarder has been redacted from history so that Shakespeare the creative genius could be born," the researchers say in a paper due to be delivered at the Hay literary festival, in Wales, in May.

Jayne Archer, a lecturer in medieval and Renaissance literature at Aberystwyth, said that oversight is the product of "a willful ignorance on behalf of critics and scholars who I think - perhaps through snobbery - cannot countenance the idea of a creative genius also being motivated by self-interest."

The scholars, however, say that modern folk shouldn't be too hard on Willie. He lived and wrote in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, during a period known as the "Little Ice Age," when unusual cold and heavy rain caused poor harvests and food shortages.

"I think now we have a rather rarefied idea of writers and artists as people who are disconnected from the everyday concerns of their contemporaries," Archer said. "But for most writers for most of history, hunger has been a major concern - and it has been as creatively energizing as any other force."

Come on, professor, for writers hunger is still a major concern.

Capuchin, no

Justin Bieber had to leave a monkey in quarantine after landing in Germany last week without the necessary papers for the animal, an official said Saturday.

Selena Gomez may have tweeted something about Justin spanking said monkey, but she and Bieber have a pact to say only nice things about each other.

Without proper documentation for his capuchin monkey, the animal had to stay with authorities, customs spokesman Thomas Meister said.

And now there's one more formerly solo German organ grinder who's working again.

Bieber later tweeted: "Munich was a good time. And loud. The bus is headed to Vienna now. U coming?" He didn't mention the monkey.

How quickly they forget.

* In other sad entertainment news from Germany, an entire troupe of performing fleas has fallen victim to the freezing temperatures gripping the country.

Flea-circus director Robert Birk says he was shocked to find all of his 300 fleas dead inside their transport box Wednesday morning.

The circus immediately scrambled to find and train a new batch so that it could fulfill its engagements at an open-air fair in Mechernich-Kommern.

Michael Faber, who organizes the fair, told the Associated Press that an insect expert at a nearby university provided 50 fleas in time for the first show Sunday.

(Who knew fleas were so easy to train?)

Faber hopes they'll "get through this without any more fatalities."


* A federal judge in Los Angeles says that Angelina Jolie didn't steal the story for her movie "In the Land of Blood and Honey" from a Croatian author.

City News Service reports that Friday's tentative ruling will throw out the suit accusing Jolie of copyright infringement.

In 2011, author James Braddock sued Jolie and the company that made the film, saying it was partly based on his book The Soul Shattering.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee wrote in a tentative ruling that the plots, characters and themes in the two works were not "substantially" similar, though both centered on war romances.

As does "Gone With the Wind."

* Hawkeye is a dad.

"Hurt Locker" and "Avengers" star Jeremy Renner and girlfriend Sonni Pacheco confirmed Friday that they are the parents of 7-pound Ava Berlin Renner.

A statement from spokeswoman Susan Patricola says the new parents "are beyond thrilled."

Lil Wayne says he's an epileptic and has had seizures for years.

In an interview with L.A. radio station Power 106, Wayne said that epilepsy caused his most recent health scare earlier this month when he was rushed to a hospital. Wayne said that he had three back-to-back seizures.

"I've had a bunch of seizures," Wayne said, "y'all just never hear about them."

India.Arie is laughing off talk that she may have lightened her skin, following the release of a publicity photo for her song "Cocoa Butter," which made it look as though she were several shades lighter than her dark-brown complexion.

She took to Twitter on Friday to deny the accusations, saying that she has no desire to bleach her skin because she loves herself and her brown skin "more than ever." She also said that "magnificent lighting" is the cause for her "glow."

* If you can wait more than a month before you enter rehab, what's the point?

Since Lindsay Lohan was ordered to 90 days of lockdown rehab starting in May, she taped an episode of "Anger Management" (and possibly stole some jewelry), went to Brazil with her N.Y. rocker boyfriend, exposed most of her left breast on the tarmac there, then later hid under a DJ table at a nightclub, visited her British rocker maybe-boyfriend in L.A. and still plans to appear on David Letterman's show and visit Australia.

She hasn't, however, had time to pick out where she's going to rehab.

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

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