November 3, 2010, 3:42 pm
By Tim Roy
It would seem that the idea of visualizing Shakespeare is more wide-spread than I initially thought. While I blogged on this same subject (Shakespeare Visualized?) last month, other approaches keep appearing. A friend sent me a link to a print of Hamlet presented as a diagram. Available for sale on Etsy, this visualization is a hybrid of process flow, genealogical chart, and glyph system.
This piece works far better than the data analysis previously presented, but I am still not convinced that it does the narrative justice. For example, the following extract from Act II is, in my opinion, difficult to grasp from a process point of view:
While the glyph system mixes straight-ahead enumeration (use of the letters to abbreviate names) to the iconic (representing players with the masks), I found it confusing. Other icons in the system include skulls, castles, daggers and poison.
We have never attempted to transform this kind of narrative into a full-fledged visualization, so I do applaud the work for its daring. Still, I think I would take Olivier or Branagh over this 50 x 79 print every time.
Scholar Helen Vendler incorporates many simple diagrams into her work on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Organizing words into diagrams instead of prose gives her a way to show the structure of Elizabethan inventions and inversions. This diagram, for example, is designed to explain the chiastic structure in lines 11 and 12 of Sonnet 95:
This is simpler than the diagrams above, more dependent on accompanying explanation (I’ve done my best to summarize it), and much less ambitious.
Posted by Henry Woodbury on November 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm
Of course, this means I will now need to blog on these as well. We may need a new category just for Shakespeare! And I still have a piece from Frog Design on deck that addresses his work as well.
Posted by Tim Roy on November 3, 2010 at 8:16 pm
I’ve thought of blogging on Vendler’s diagrams before, but never came up with a good angle. They are the smallest of mind maps. She relies on prose for the most part.
Posted by Henry Woodbury on November 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm
Kurt Vonnegut drew a quite different graph of Hamlet to illustrate why it’s a masterpiece
(inlcude charts for other stories too)
Posted by Tom Pearson on November 4, 2010 at 4:43 am
Ha! That’s awesome.
Posted by Henry Woodbury on November 4, 2010 at 8:26 am
As an update, the poster sold yesterday!
Posted by Tim Roy on November 4, 2010 at 9:13 am
Very European in look and feel. Kind of reminds me of international signage, or something you’d see at the Olympics. Cool!
Posted by Janet Bornemann on November 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm