PTS 11/066: Alas, poor Richard …

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground, and tell sad stories of the death of kings …

bh-hollow-crown-rii-beach.jpg

PTS read-through:  Richard II, act III (part ONE)

Witnessing the utter disintegration of a human being – even a fictional one – is, I’d suggest, an uneasy, distressing experience.  And yet … 

Voyeuristic shame accompanies the compulsion to keep spectating what is usually such a private affair.  My first experience of this type of slow-mo car-crash literature was Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, when I was about 12.  It scarred me – I’ve never quite been able to revisit Michael Henchard’s self-induced immolation; it also, I think, gave me my first seductive bittersweet taste of tragedy.  Like that initial stolen underage drink, whilst I wasn’t quite sure I liked it, I wanted another – just to be certain.

Richard’s collapse is the most devastatingly beautiful in Shakespeare, perhaps in the wider canon: it begins here, spanning three poignant acts. 
Continue reading “PTS 11/066: Alas, poor Richard …”

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?

Continue reading “Machiavelli: The Prince (review)”

PTS 011/064: I wasted time, and now?

All’s far from well for Richard, and a facility with words isn’t helping …

BH jeremy irons richard ii b
image:  RSC

PTS read-through:  Richard II, Act I

The lengthy gap since I finished posting about A Midsummer Night’s Dream has everything to do with volume of work, and absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to confess you now.  But we ought to get it out of the way, or it will cloud all my posts about Richard II

On today’s journey to the late 1590s, let’s take a detour via 1987 …

Continue reading “PTS 011/064: I wasted time, and now?”

Quote of the Week: 05 March 2018 (#31)

They could be twins … NOT the authors!

BH marlowe shakespeareJohn Gielgud, ‘Richard II’ in Charles Ede (ed.), Introductions to Shakespeare, (London:  Folio Society, 1977) p.59

[and a small celebration of this as my 201st post]

The Wheel of Fortune moves inexorably away from Edward II at school (which students will have to compare to Tennyson‘s Maud in their exam – easy peasy, whatever they may think, if they work hard and LISTEN between now and then), and in terms of the Ponytail Shakespeare read-through, to Richard II.

I can’t be the only one to reflect that the two plays are remarkably similar.  Indeed, I’ve chosen this week’s quotation as an intrigiung bridge between them.

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 05 March 2018 (#31)”

Cultural Capital 03: Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto

Prepare yourself for a glorious improvement in your AO5 skills, comrades!

(For non-students, this is part of a series for my A Level students looking at important secondary texts which will assist their studies.)

BH Marx 1

 

 

‘I am not a Marxist’ – Karl Marx

‘Reading The Communist Manifesto does not make you a Communist, any more than reading the Bible makes you a Christian’

says Nigel Cawthorne in the introduction to my copy.  This reassuring sentiment is only slightly undermined by his point that:

‘While reading The Communist Manifesto, it is as well to remember that millions of people have shed blood over this document.’ As they have, to be fair, with last month’s text …

THIS is the power of ideas and words, people. Continue reading “Cultural Capital 03: Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto”

A Bookshelf Update … and a question or two

Being overwhelmed with books is a problem I’ve had to get used to …

BH books bedroom
NOT quite my situation, yet … image: curatormagazine.com

Today, I looked EVERYWHERE for a book that I wanted to quote from and couldn’t find it …

I know you’re in here, somewhere.  You were a Christmas present; when I got back from my second home in Wales I put you down when I unpacked. You’ve not left the flat.  The only place I didn’t check was the kitchen: it’s got no windows and I don’t go in there if I can help it.

Where are you hiding? *

Continue reading “A Bookshelf Update … and a question or two”

Cultural Capital 04: Gayle Rubin, ‘The Traffic In Women’

Who gives this woman away?

bh-woman-power

(For non-students, this is part of a series for my A Level students looking at important secondary texts which will assist their studies.)

Gayle Rubin, ‘The Traffic in Women:  Notes on the “Political Economy” of Sex’ (1975)

An [If] you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend;

And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,

For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee

(Lord Capulet, Romeo and Juliet, Act III, sc v)

and

I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,

As she is mine, I may dispose of her:

Which shall be either to this gentleman

Or to her death, according to our law.

(Egeus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act I, sc I)

Not much fun, being a teenage girl in Shakespeare’s day, was it?  These intelligent, independent and emotional young women must often have felt like second-class citizens …

Continue reading “Cultural Capital 04: Gayle Rubin, ‘The Traffic In Women’”