Big Lebowski rewritten as a work of Shakespeare

"The knave abideth." Sweet baby Jesus, the attention to detail in this sucker is just mindblowing! What a thing of beauty. Here's the carpet-staining scene:
shakespearepicture.jpg WOO: Rise, and speak wisely, man--but hark; I see thy rug, as woven i'the Orient, A treasure from abroad. I like it not. I'll stain it thus; ever thus to deadbeats.

[He stains the rug]

THE KNAVE: Sir, prithee nay!

BLANCHE: Now thou seest what happens, Lebowski, when the agreements of honourable business stand compromised. If thou wouldst treat money as water, flowing as the gentle rain from heaven, why, then thou knowest water begets water; it will be a watery grave your rug, drowned in the weeping brook. Pray remember, Lebowski.

THE KNAVE: Thou err'st; no man calls me Lebowski. Yet thou art man; neither spirit damned nor wandering shadow, thou art solid flesh, man of woman born. Hear rightly, man!--for thou hast got the wrong man. I am the Knave, man; Knave in nature as in name.

BLANCHE: Thy name is Lebowski.

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, by Adam Bertocci (thanks, chris arkenberg, PLEASE PLEASE let this end up as a live stage performance for yea, verily I should like to see it)


  1. Aw man, the site is down. Why’d you have to do that, Xeni? It really pulled the net together!

  2. Now I’d like to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead re-written as a follow-up to The Big Lebowski.

  3. I have only read the first scene, but I must say much credit to the author, this is really well done. I am sad that the PDF site is getting overwhelmed right now.

  4. I so pray that this becomes a regular production on the Shakespeare Santa Cruz/Ashland/etc circuit.

  5. Not to diss the whole effort over one word, but a knave is someone deceitful, dishonest, etc., which Lebowski certainly is not. “Knave” is similarly one syllable and certainly has the appropriate Shakespearean vibe, but it’s not a good equivalent for “dude,” which is a much more neutral word.

    1. The narrator of Big Lebowski points out, perhaps subtly, that in “country life”, “dude” is a negative term, referring to someone from the city with no experience of life outside the city, e.g. a “dude ranch” (though in the city it is neutral).
      Similarly the word “knave” (or “jack”), though we may now know it primarily for it’s negative meaning, can also mean a journeyman, someone who has (perhaps recently) completed an apprenticeship, e.g. a “jack of all trades”, which is perhaps a neutral term.
      It may not be the best analog but it doesn’t seem as bad as you think–although I don’t know whether it is period correct as such.

      1. True about “dude,” but there’s still a difference between the negative connotations of that (ignorant, naive) and the negative connotations of knave (dishonest, etc.). The Dude is naive, but in an innocent, well-meaning way. But if knave had a more neutral meaning 400 years ago, perhaps it’s the best word. I can’t think of a better, similarly short, Shakespearean-sounding equivalent.

        1. Fool might be closest in spirit, especially when one thinks of Shakespeare’s fools: oddball crackheads who humorously one-up their social betters, say random BS that has the ring of truth, etc., which is pretty much what the Dude does in the film.

      2. Along the same lines that a villain was a farm worker and vulgar meant you were common.

        The best of them all is a shambles, where you would buy your meat, we would now call it a butcher’s shop, not the dilapidated mess that probably gets called to mind when used in modern English.

  6. I would like to report strange behavior on bb. I would post this under moderation policy except that it, also, behaves strangely.

    Certain bb pages are loading weird mixes of audio– something like a rap record, a soap ad, and something else–simultaneously. I can’t find any flash ads responsible, and bb is the only page affected.

    Has bb been hacked? Or is it some kind of incredibly invasive ad?

    1. teufelsdroch,

      BB hasn’t been hacked and it isn’t a covert ambush-ad. Have you tried cleariing your cache? Could be remnants of old media associated with the pages (?).

  7. adam rocks the iambic pentameter!

    ordinarily, this kind of thing would fall under the “nerd with too much free time” category which includes klingon dictionaries and detailed maps of places that don’t actually exist.

    but the level of craft here is too damn good, and the concept too absurd! color me impressed!

  8. What ever happened to the contest last month to do this sort of thing, re-writing a piece of fiction in another author’s style? I never saw a winner announced and searching doesn’t turn up anything.

  9. What can be said? I will give these people money for bandwidth! I somehow sense this isn’t the first site you have crashed. The folks at B3TA will commiserate with you, I’m sure.

  10. This befalleth when thou firk’st a stranger ‘twixt the buttocks, Laurence! Understand’st thou? Dost thou attend me? Seest thou what happens, Laurence? Seest thou what happens, Laurence? Seest thou what happens, Laurence, when thou firk’st a stranger ‘twixt the buttocks?!


  11. “Not to diss the whole effort over one word, but a knave is someone deceitful, dishonest, etc.”

    So you’re saying it’s a label which you wouldn’t self-apply?

  12. oh my god it’s the whole frikkin’ FILM!

    a theater troupe needs to perform this, and I need to attend!

  13. Xeno: yet, in Sam Elliot’s intro he states that “Dudue” is a name none would self-apply where he’s from, suggesting a distinctly negative connotation, at least in some quarters. Rendered thusly:
    That which we call a knave by any other name
    Might bowl just as sweet. Lebowski, then,
    Did call himself ‘the Knave’, a name that I,
    Your humble chorus, would not self-apply
    In homelands mine;

  14. In Shakespeare’s day, someone who epitomized coolness or hipness would have worn elaborate clothing and been called a coxcomb or a princox. The Dude as portrayed in film would have been called The Sluggard. Or perhaps just The Offal.

  15. Seest thou what happens

    Since I can’t read the thing, I’ll just nitpick. I’m guessing Shakepeare never used ‘see’ in this sense, and if he did, I’d go for ‘Dost see what happens?’

    The best of them all is a shambles

    I heard a story that when Queen Elizabeth I first saw St Peters, she said it was awful and (from memory) terrible. High praise.

    1. Lyndon @28, Elizabeth I died decades before Wren even started designing St Paul’s. It would probably have been Mary II or Anne. And it was supposedly “awful, artificial, and amusing”, all of which were meant as praise — causing feelings of awe, displaying clever artifice, and inspiring like a muse.

  16. Hilarious stuff, i would definitely see this in the theatre if they could get some decent actors lined up for it (which means it’s highly unlikely i would see this in the theatre).

    But for now, there’s this on stage:

  17. Two of my loves, married at last! Shakespeare Lebowski is more awesome than simply the sum of its elements!

  18. It is a noble enterprise and yet
    I cannot help but wish that we might get
    Some better scansion in the lines of verse.
    Here’s my attempt — I think it is no worse:

    Within the Western world there was a man;
    A man whose song I’ll sing! And though his par-
    ents called him ‘Geoff’ — or Jeff-e-ry Lebow-
    ski — he preferred a name I would not self-
    apply, to wit: ‘The Knave’.

    etc. etc.

  19. This befalleth when thou firk’st a stranger ‘twixt the buttocks, Laurence! Understand’st thou? Dost thou attend me? Seest thou what happens, Laurence? Seest thou what happens, Laurence? Seest thou what happens, Laurence, when thou firk’st a stranger ‘twixt the buttocks?!


  20. According to the FAQ the guy banged it together pretty quickly, so even if he missed the odd bit here or there as far as being authentic to Shakespeare, it works really well and remains hilarious.

  21. The attention to detail is lauded in the post, but it’s mostly attention to detail in The Big Lebowski. Shakespearean detail is lacking. For example, the very listing of characters is done like a modern script in order of appearance. To make it right, that sucker needs to be reordered by the chain of being starting at the top of the social hierarchy and working its way down.

  22. Any great Shakespeare parody (and this is one) always leads me to go back and re-read

    Fox In Socks, Prince of Denmark

    The soul of Nero enter this gluey, gluey bosom.
    Give me that gooey goo which is chewy chewing’s slave,
    And I will chew him in my heart’s core,
    Aye in my heart of heart, as that Goo-Goose is doing.

    Simpler and sillier, but I like it.

  23. holy. moly. brilliant.

    The fresh green paint of fair Miss Bonnie’s nail!

    Marry, sir, nail-painting, rugs and urine.
    A man may paint the white toe green, tell her,
    Paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come.

    And where might a man fetch a toe?

    O toe!
    Thou wouldst have a toe? A toe can be obtain’d.
    Ways are known, Knave. Thou wilt not like to hear.
    I’ll have a toe for thee this afternoon
    Ere singeth cockerel at three o’clock.
    These amateurs would have us soil’d with fear.

  24. I can’t believe no one has yet brought up “A Slurry Tale”/”Pulp Bard”:

    To wit:

    Julius: Your pardon; did I break thy concentration?
    Continue! Ah, but now thy tongue is still.
    Allow me, then, to offer a retort.
    Describe Marsellus Wallace to me, pray.

    Brett: What?

    Julius: What country dost thou hail from?

    Brett: What?

    Julius: Thou sayest thou dost hail from distant What!
    I know but naught of thy strange country What.
    What language speak they in the land of What?

    Brett: What?

    Julius: English, base knave, dost thou speak it?

    Brett: Aye!

    Julius: Then hearken to my words and answer them!
    Describe to me Marsellus Wallace!

    Brett: What?

    (JULIUS presses his knife to BRETT’s throat)

    Julius: Speak ‘What’ again! Thou cur, cry ‘What’ again!
    I dare thee utter ‘What’ again but once!
    I dare thee twice and spit upon thy name!
    Now, paint for me a portraiture in words,
    If thou hast any in thy head but ‘What’,
    Of Marsellus Wallace!”

  25. This is quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen in months. Kudos to the guy/gal who took the time to write this.

  26. “Indeed, a rug of value; an estimable rug, an honour’d rug; O unhappy rug, that should live to cover such days!”

  27. I have to agree with #29 – it’s not very Shakespearean because it’s not in iambic pentameter. Compare it to the example in #46. Shakespeare wasn’t just writing ye-olde-english, he was writing poetry.

    1. It’s true that the versification is rather bad, but dude deserves props for putting a lot of parodies and riffs on actual Shakespearean language from the plays, and embedding them rather well in the play. It’s rather obsessive and wholly wonderful of him to do this. Just a few good ones:

      If by my art, my curious friend, I have
      Put the wild notions in a roar, so be’t.

      From The Tempest. Here’s another:

      Two women, both alike in beauty,
      In fair Verona where we lay our scene,
      From broken cable break to new nudity,
      Where civil breasts touch civil hands unclean.

      From Romeo and Juliet. Etc. So while he often prefers faux-Elizabethan fustian over a true attempt at the grammar and syntax, there’s enough of these gems to entertain me as a reader and sometime teacher of Shakespeare.

  28. Can we get this as an alternative language track on the next DVD/Blu-Ray “Special Edition” release? Or at least as subtitles, the way Monty Python did with the Holy Grail?

  29. Thou art a lad of years mayhap fifteen,
    At once a lad and coming to a man
    Who’s wise, I trust, to welcome not police,
    Constabulary actions being harsh.
    Is this thy parchment, Laurence? Tell me true.
    Is this thy parchment, Laurence? Tell me plain.

    Pure comedic gold.

  30. DONALD
    Then might we dine on beefsteaks, in and out?

    Hold thy tongue, Donald, I pray thee; thou art a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to thy wit. Yea, we shall brace the kid; he shall be o’er-pushed with certitude. We shall take what moneys he hath not spent, and yea, we shall be near the place of good repute, to feast on beefsteaks, have some ales and merry jests. Our troubles be over, Knave.

    im about halfway done now, LOVING it.

  31. It’s not in iambic pentameter, though. It wouldn’t have been that hard to do and I think it would’ve added a lot.

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