Quote of the Week: 16 April 2018 (#37)

The beard maketh the man, it seems …

BOTTOM:  What beard were I best to play it in?

QUINCE:  Why, what you will.

BOTTOM:  I will discharge it in either your straw colour beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow. [a]

Although The Guardian confidently proclaimed we’d reached ‘peak beard’ two years ago – in fact exactly two years ago today [b] – I stopped shaving before Christmas.  I’m far from a fashion victim: this was initially sheer laziness (I loathe shaving); now increasingly compounded by curiosity about exactly what I might grow.  After nearly thirty years of a more-or-less maintained goatee, I’ve gone wild.

It’s a work in progress (and had to survive a pre-Portugal pruning by She Who Must Be Obeyed), but I’ve ended up with a hybrid: think the hirsute love-child of Hemingway and Fidel Castro … the addition of a very disreputable cap during my Easter hols jolly to the Algarve has added, I like to think, a revolutionary aura to the whole thing.  Plus, some students have given it a name of its own, like a stray dog.  So, the beard is staying – for now.

Naturally, this started me thinking about beards and the Bard …

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Machiavelli: The Prince (review)

‘… men must be either pampered or crushed …’

BH the prince 9780141912004Niccolò Machiavelli:  The Prince, (transl. George Bull, ed. Anthony Grafton), (Penguin Classics: London, 2003).  e-book ISBN: 9780141912004 (£2.99)

– – –

Niccolò Machiavelli … the name has a seductive musicality, like all the Devil’s best tunes, and in Italian, ‘Il Principe’ uncoils like a snake, before hissing and then biting. This, his most famous work, has insinuated its way into our psyche until ‘Machiavellian’ has become part of a sinister cabal of authorial-adjectives including ‘Orwellian‘, ‘Lovecraftian’ and ‘Kafkaesque‘.  Yet how many people appreciate its true meaning, having read ‘The Prince’?  Is its reputation merited?  Is it a useful, topical read, or a dusty, centuries-old curiosity?

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Quote of the Week: 09 April 2018 (#36)

We all have something we can’t part with when we go abroad, surely?

BH suitcase-full-of-books

Kent Cartwright, ‘Introduction’ to William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (Arden Third Edition), (Bloomsbury Publishing:  London, 2017)

Her:  [hefting my Arden Third copy of Richard II in her hand] ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit heavy to take on holiday?’

Me:  [defensively] ‘It’s as heavy as it needs to be.  That’s why you pay more for the Ardens.  And anyway, that’s the text I’m writing about at the moment.’

Her:  ‘But we’re going away.  You can access the play online.’  [statement, not a question]

Me:  That’s not the same!

Her:  [giving a silent ‘look’ and the merest suggestion of a shrug with one shoulder]

You probably know that look …

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Scaling Mount Tsundoku

To buy, or not to buy? A completely rhetorical question when it comes to books …

BH sisyphus

“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”   Albert Camus (1)

Consider Sisyphus … (2)

A mythical king condemned to spend eternity atoning for his lifetime sins by pushing a boulder up a mountain in Tartarus, only to have it roll to the bottom overnight: as a result, he was obliged to start afresh each morning.

I like to think he is the patron saint of English teachers.  If you are struggling to work out why, the answer’s at the foot of the post.

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NOT reinventing the wheel after all …

I’ll find it, YOU read it …

BH pig reading

It’s not long since I updated The Boar’s Head Bookshelf, and mooted the idea of doing something different, more useful with it: ‘useful‘ being defined as:

  • up to date;
  • accurate;
  • easier to search through; and
  • helpful in signposting, NOT gatekeeping or showing off – especially for students, taking some of the leg-work out of their research

So …

[drum roll]

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Quote of the Week: 02 April 2018 (#35)

Bogdanov (and Shakespeare) on the corrosive effects of real life on the soul …

BH bogdanov directors cut coverMichael Bogdanov, ‘Richard II: The skipping King’, in Shakespeare : The Director’s Cut (Capercaillie Books:  Edinburgh, 2005)

I picked this startling book up from Waterstones in Gower Street, London on Saturday – remaindered at a measly £5-99.  Scuffed but basically sound, it seemed destined for the upper slopes of my ever-growing Mount Tsundoku – about which I’m bound to post at some stage, recently becoming familiar with the term.

Either way, as I often do with new Shakespeare-related books, I ambled through the Introduction.  Not properly knowing who Bogdanov was in truth, I wanted a sense of who I’d invited to share my bookshelves.  I’m at my parents’, and despite the TV blaring at a volume only a practically-deaf father can justify, I became completely immersed.

Bogdanov died almost a year ago, at 78 (a little older than my father is).  If we’d been contemporaries, and moved in similar circles, I reckon we would have been drinking buddies …

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Quote of the Week: 26 March 2018 (#34)

The long road to the civil war begins here …

BH Richard II 86536
Photo by me:  taken at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, 2014

This week’s quotation is from:  Charles R. Forker, ‘Introduction’, in William Shakespeare, Richard II (Arden Third Edition), (Thomson Learning:  London, 2002)

A recent Reddit thread discussed the extent to which the History plays critiqued the monarchy.  To be honest, I didn’t want to get involved, because it looked like a straight request for homework help, and yet, it was hard to resist such a fascinating subject …

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