This blog series, Big Picture, Small Picture, provides a contextual collage for a chosen piece of literature. The information here is culled from newspapers, newsreels, periodicals, and other primary sources from the date of the text’s original publication.
“If we shadows have offended,
Know but this and all is mended.
That you have but slumbered here,
While these visions did appear,
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding, but a dream.”
-William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“I am a sportswriter’s dream,” Muhammad Ali muses during a March 1st, 1971 press conference, seven days before his first heavyweight title fight against Joe Frazier. He has a hopeful vision of the future: “I’m going to give him a boxing lesson. I’m going to enjoy myself for five or six rounds.” One week later, Ali and Frazier go fifteen rounds. Ali wins five or six of them. Frazier wins the rest, along with the heavyweight title.
Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, classified ads in the Oregonian urge readers to stop putting their plans off until the future. There are dream jobs, dream deals, dream bosses, and dream kitchens available right now. “Do You Dream of a Large Home by the River?” an ad wants to know. There it is, waiting for you. There are dream homes for families, young professionals, pilots, ceiling watchers, golfers. An Admiral brand refrigerator is priced “much lower than you would ever dream possible.”
In Ashland, Oregon, a professional production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream kicks off the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. On stage, an actor portrays Bottom’s bewilderment: “I have had a most rare vision. I have/had a dream—past the wit of man to say what/dream it was.”