For a while now, it’s been a vague ambition of mine to catalogue, mind map, or in some other way classify Shakespeare’s comedy, both in the comedic plays and elsewhere.In doing so I AM mindful (for those who know their SF) of the Asimov short, ‘Jokester’ (1956), where finally getting an answer as to why humans laugh results in humour dying forever …
Still, I’m always and increasingly drawing intertextual links between and beyond Shakespeare’s plays, and this is what strikes me about what Arden calls the ‘Induction’ – the Christopher Sly frame.It’s a cousin, maybe an ancestor, of the Rabelaisean idea of ‘Carnival’ that appears later on in:
Whilst it sounds trite, I’m increasingly beginning to believe this.
Part of this comes from the Pony Tail Shakespeare project, I’m sure. With a gap of 400+ years now between the works and our readings, we’re constantly confronted with attitudes which are at a variance with ours.Example?This month it’s The Taming of the Shrew, with some ‘interesting’ ideas about marriage, domestic violence, and ‘men vs. women’.
Mostly, though, it comes from being a teacher of Shakespeare …
For someone who almost famously doesn’t watch TV, I’m a remarkably big fan of the BBC. What I DO spend is an awful lot of time listening to the radio – for news, sport, and entertainment. I’m always dazzled by the quality of the drama they produce, and I really enjoy their Science Fiction adaptations – another obssession of mine.
But, it’s also an absolute treasure trove of radio programming about Shakespeare … both factual stuff and performances.