It’s man’s ‘imaginations and stupidities’ that makes the tragedies so affecting – and effective …
JD Bernal, The World, The Flesh and the Devil: An Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul (Verso: London, 2017)
Last year’s ‘reading river’ reflected a monomaniac attitude towards Shakespeare, which I think I’m going to try to avoid this year.
First off was a virtual trolley dash through the sale aisle of Verso Books, ‘the largest independent, radical publishing house in the English-speaking world‘ on New Year’s Eve. Only one of the baker’s dozen of political tracts I bought had any specific link to Shakespeare But I can’t and won’t dismiss Shakespeare entirely this year, and there’s some added fun in finding the ‘applicability’ – NOT ‘relatability’ – of my wider reading to the plays, and vice versa.
Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 22 January 2018”
Art not just as a time machine, but as a mirror, too …
Germaine Greer: Shakespeare (Past Masters series) (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1986)
I wonder if there was a time when, at least as an adult, the name Germaine Greer was unknown to me. Yet this slim volume, picked up in the last mad pre-demolition trolley dash round our old sixth-form building almost a year ago, is my first reading of any of her works. I feel a bit embarrassed about that.
Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 15 January 2018”
What I read in 2017, what YOU should read in 2018, and what to avoid like, ahem, the Plague …
Announcing my Ponytail Shakespeare read-through back in January did something to me; maybe several things.
Firstly, it made a public commitment. I’m just a bloke, and a busy one at that, being an English teacher, but I am still following the schedule – albeit several paces behind.
It also made me realise that however confident I might be, there was/is an awful lot I don’t/didn’t know for someone who enjoys being the ‘go-to’ at work for all matters Shakespearean – those ‘known unknowns’ were simultaneously a cause for embarrassment and a spur to do better.
These two ingredients combined to make me jump into bed with Shakespeare in 2017 …
Continue reading “2017: In Bed With Shakespeare”
The more things change, the more they stay the same …
Neale, JE: Queen Elizabeth I (Pimlico: London, 1998)
Once again, I’m minded to say that we continue to study EMP Literature because whilst times and technology have undoubtedly moved on, human attitudes and the situations we face remain broadly the same.
Endemic Xenophobia? Check.
Effemination of rival men who dress too well? Check.
Aristocratic disdain for ‘upstarts’? Check.
‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,’ as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (another foreigner*, dammit!) might say …
Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 18 December 2017”
So many books. So little time …
Inspired by some course or other on children’s literacy, I’ve been keeping a ‘reading river‘ since January 2013. It sounded infantile, but I’ve kept to it remarkably more faithfully than logging my reading on Goodreads, or anything else. It’s become a diary, of sorts, something to idly flick through and recall times, places and people, such as the stay at my parents’ when I devoured all the Earle Stanley Gardener and other Penguin Green Series crime paperbacks I could find on my dad’s shelves in a matter of days. That year, coincidentally, I read 75 books.
Continue reading “Seventy-Five”
We only want to be kings because we don’t fully understand what it involves?
Christopher Lee, 1603 (Review: London, 2003)
Not THAT Christopher Lee, obviously!
In class, we’ve seen it in Edward II and, I think, Richard III. There are hints of it for my younger students in Macbeth. But I see it everywhere: in Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI.
In Twelfth Night, Malvolio tells us:
“be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em” (II.v)
Quite simply, the message I consistently get from EMP plays is that greatness – in this case being monarch – is never, ever, all it’s cracked up to be …
Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 11 December 2017”
Are our masters “fettered with chains of gold”? Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-42) thought so. Perhaps we could ask Theresa May …
Andrew Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004)
(A book I rescued – for under 50p – from a Greater Manchester library who had withdrawn it because it was not being taken out …)
I’m going to step back a little to someone who operated before Shakespeare lived, but will have influenced the development of poetry up until our boy arrived on the Shake-scene.
Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 27 November 2017”