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 …
You are holding in your hands one of the most interesting, influential – and readable – books in British history.
Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland have long been famous as the key source of Shakespeare’s history plays. Given the role of Shakespeare’s view of Tudor history in shaping English nationalism, Holinshed’s long-term influence on British culture and English literature can hardly be overstated. Michael Wood (intro), Holinshed Chronicles (The Folio Society: London, 2012)
‘When ignorant men are overwhelmed by forces totally beyond their control and their understanding it is inevitable that they will search for some explanation within their grasp. When they are frightened and badly hurt then they will seek someone on whom they can be revenged. […] What was needed, therefore, was a suitable target for the indignation of the people, preferably a minority group, easily identifiable, already unpopular, widely scattered and lacking any powerful protector.’
Philip Ziegler, The Black Death, (The Folio Society, London: 1997) Cover image: Francis Mosley
The plague was too immediate, too visceral, for Shakespeare to include more than a passing reference to it in his plays.In Romeo and Juliet it’s a factor in the tragedy, but at a safe distance.
The bookshelf has had another update … this is the sort of thing that floats my boat on evenings when I don’t have urgent schoolwork to do; the sort of thing that makes pupils look aghast when they ask what I do with my life instead of watching TV!