Not quite as frugal as October 2018‘s haul, sadly, but on the whole equally satisfying.
February 1570: in the blue corner, Elizabeth I; in the red corner, Pius V …
Commence au festival, as the Joker might say.
Ponytail Shakespeare read-through – King John, Act III
King John, Act I
Having broken out of my Romeo and Juliet-induced enervation, I approached King John with a sense of excitement bolstered by my positive experiences with the Henry VI plays. Unusually, maybe impatiently, I skipped my Arden’s introduction and got stuck in after finding these hopeful signs elsewhere:
“a neglected play about a flawed king” [a]
“King John has all the beauties of language and all the richness of the imagination to relieve the painfulness of the subject.” [b]
So, what did I make of Act I?
‘I’ll show you mine; you show me yours …’
‘Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and find it full of books – even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome.’ William Ewart Gladstone
This post came out of a discussion on Reddit where I asserted that we weren’t seeing enough Shakespeare shelf-porn. SHAKESPORN, in fact. Yup. You heard me. So in the spirit of ‘I’ll show you mine; you show me yours‘, here’s a tour of my Shakespeare bookshelf: MY ‘delightful society‘ …
Jonathan Bate: The Genius of Shakespeare (Picador: London, 2008)
Professor Bate will probably be a familiar face, or voice, to anyone on the ‘Shake-scene’ in the UK. You can hear him participating in Shakespeare-themed episodes of BBC Radio’s ‘In Our Time’, he heads a University of Warwick MOOC on ‘Shakespeare and his World’, and amongst his many written accomplishments, he edited the Arden third edition of Titus Andronicus.
This is such an engaging book. Because ‘you don’t read Shakespeare, he reads you‘, we learn almost as much about Professor Bate as we do about Shakespeare. If you want to know what a modern Shakespeare scholar is like, you could do worse than start here.
All the world IS a stage, where Richard is concerned …
Year 12 face their mock exam this coming Friday, with varying degrees of panic.
So, this week’s QotW is actually a BOGOF offer. I often talk about Richard III being a ‘season finale’ to the History plays. The chameleon quotation above comes from the penultimate episode, as you might remember, people. Richard is – at least until it all begins to unravel for him – the consummate actor.
But don’t just take my word for it:
Forget the Oscars, here are some winners that REALLY matter to me …
We HATE lists, don’t we?
Except, actually we bloody love them, if it’s something we’re interested in.
That said, the last thing we want is a list that agrees with our perceptions – the dopamine rush of validation is very short-lived compared to the opportunity to passionately argue our disagreement. We LOVE subjective opinions. Trust me – my wonderfully fulfilling University years were full of essays arguing the toss – why, for example:
- Dracula should not be judged for his ‘special dietary requirements’, whereas Van Helsing and his bunch are vindictive bastards;
- we ought to respect Edward Hyde for his refreshing honesty, as opposed to Henry Jekyll‘s hypocrisy; or
- Ursula K. Le Guin’s (RIP) The Left Hand of Darkness, whilst a superb book, had no place in the Science Fiction module
You get the picture: English Lit is a tailor-made subject for those who are argumentative and prepared to do the spadework to back-up their cockiness …
The ‘tribes’ that make up an audience can be just as entertaining as the show itself …
Malcom Evans, ‘Deconstructing Shakespeare’s Comedies’, in Alternative Shakespeares (ed. John Drakakis), (Methuen: London, 1985)
Why do we go to spectator events? What’s in an audience?
Not everyone gets their just desserts as our RomCom ends …
The Comedy of Errors, Act V
Shakespeare has plenty to do in the 400-odd lines of Act V. The general confusion needs to create a crisis before we can have our happy ending – in this case, perhaps an equivocal, unsatisfying one, but more on that later.
Antipholus (E) is NOT a twenty-first century role model – but was he a sixteenth-century one?
… but truly two.’ Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
PTS read through: Comedy of Errors, Act IV
In 2018, the notion of what it means to be a ‘man’ feels ever more opaque, with behaviours and attitudes being scrutinised as never before, perhaps. As a gender, we sometimes appear confused about the path we ought to take to find a satisfying and yet socially acceptable direction or self-definition.
Maybe it was ever thus.
In yesterday’s post on Macbeth I touched upon the fragility of our hero’s notions of himself when his masculinity was challenged by his wife. Macbeth is largely a play about what it means to be a man, but that’s way down the line in terms of my reading schedule. Reading Act IV of Comedy of Errors felt like one of those non-comic interludes towards the end of plays like Much Ado About Nothing, and instead of laughing, I found myself thinking about what Antipholus (E) implies a ‘man’ should be. It’s not an attractive picture …