PTS 014/088: With This Ring … ?

brand

RICHARD: Vouchsafe to wear this ring.

ANNE: To take is not to give.’ (RIII, I.ii)

PTS read-through:  The Merchant of Venice, Act V

Occasionally, actually quite often if you’re me, you say things in class which get far more of a reaction than you anticipated. One of those moments came recently, when I suggested that an engagement ring was a symbol of ownership, not so different from a brand on a cow, if you thought about it.

Silence invaded the room’, as Steinbeck might have said.

The students were either reappraising their world-views, or they were reappraising me. It’s never easy to tell which.

Continue reading “PTS 014/088: With This Ring … ?”

[book review] Clare Asquith: Shakespeare and the Resistance

asquith resistance cover

Past a certain stage in studying literature, you begin to understand, perhaps better appreciate, the fact that texts are crafted entities.

(I choose ‘entities‘ deliberately, firmly believing texts have their own independent post-publication existences: a subject for another time, perhaps)

Continue reading “[book review] Clare Asquith: Shakespeare and the Resistance”

PTS 014/087: Looking into the Abyss

monster in mirror

PTS read-through:  The Merchant of Venice, Act IV

          Sooner or later, it’s perhaps inevitable that readers of The Merchant of Venice confront one question:  is this an anti-Semitic play?  In fact, lots of people seem to have a view without having seen or read the play.

          The answer is yes – and no. 

Continue reading “PTS 014/087: Looking into the Abyss”

Our revels now are ended … Class of ’19

boat sunset

Occasionally, teacher good luck messages and the valedictories get a bit mawkish or twee (and wearing my heart on my sleeve, I’m probably as guilty of this as others).  That said, I still want to write one for my Y13s.

Continue reading “Our revels now are ended … Class of ’19”

QotW (#77): 20 May 2019

elizabeth essex film poster

When you teach Richard III you almost inevitably touch on the idea that ‘history is written by the winners’, as Orwell said in 1944 (and again, of course, so horrifically in Nineteen Eighty-Four). [a]

Who were victorious over Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex in the end?  Would he have recognised the history they wrote for him?

Continue reading “QotW (#77): 20 May 2019”

[book review] Tracy Borman: The Private Lives of the Tudors

borman tudors cover

 

Tracy BormanThe Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain’s Greatest Dynasty (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 2016)

A salutary warning for would-be 21st-century celebrities?

Francis Bacon calls it correctly, as he so often does:

Men in great place […] have no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man’s self. [a]

Continue reading “[book review] Tracy Borman: The Private Lives of the Tudors”

QotW#76: 13 May 2019

bird fights snake
“… though she be but little, she is fierce”  A Midsummer Night’s Dream (III,ii)

Poor Isabella.

Not just married to Edward II.  Not simply denounced by history as the ‘She Wolf of France‘.  As if all that wasn’t enough, she was relegated to a footnote in last week‘s QotW.

It’s her turn.  Be afraid.

Continue reading “QotW#76: 13 May 2019”