Quote of the Week: 19 February 2018 (#29)

“Is black so base a hue?” Aaron, Titus Andronicus, Act IV scene ii …

BH devils-witches-dance
– back cover of Scott’s book –

AF Scott, Witch, Spirit, Devil, (White Lion Publishing:  London, 1974)

Whilst Black History Month isn’t celebrated in the UK until October, this is a bit of an international blog: about half of you are visitors from the US, and another quarter or so from elsewhere outside the UK – thank you, by the way!

So now, whilst I’m reading Scott’s book, feels like the time to look at this …

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

Who gives this woman away? To love, honour and obey …

BH woman power
“My place is where, exactly … ?”

(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 …

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PTS 10/059: I DO Believe in Fairies …

Puck and Ariel are first cousins – mischievous, not malicious …

BH cottingley fairies
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was taken in by the Cottingley Fairies.  I might have been, too …

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II

“You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” […]

“And so,” he went on good-naturedly, “there ought to be one fairy for every boy and girl.”

“Ought to be? Isn’t there?”

“No. You see children know such a lot now, they soon don’t believe in fairies, and every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”1

Discussing Act I, I alluded to the fact that my suspension of disbelief was more taxed by Helena‘s actions than by the whole idea of a fairy realm – how strange is that?

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Quote of the Week: 12 February 2018 (#28)

Should we pay more attention to James I before he became King of England?

BH cogwell james i

Thomas Cogswell, James 1:  The Phoenix King (Penguin Monarchs series), (Allen Lane:  London, 2017)

Studying or teaching Shakespeare’s plays, the figure of Elizabeth looms in the background, like the spectre at the feast.

We see it in the ever-present censorship, in the light of the Treasons Acts in 1571 and 1581, outlawing public discussion of the succession.  Or, more positively, in the ‘Gloriana’ cult that produced works like Spenser‘s The Faerie Queen, and flattering nods to Elizabeth wherever you look – like links between her and Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  We see it in her discomfort with comparisons to Richard II, and the propagandic lionization of Henry VII.

Reading Cogswell‘s short, sympathetic biography has made me reassess the extent to which we / I ignore James until the succession question becomes absolutely critical.

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PTS 09/056: These Words Are Not Mine …

How could I dislike this so much? Was it the play, or actually me?

BH claudius hamlet

CLAUDIUS:   How fares our cousin Hamlet?

HAMLET:   Excellent, i’ faith; of the chameleon’s dish, I eat the air, promise-cramm’d. You cannot feed capons so.

CLAUDIUS:  I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These words are not
mine.

HAMLET:  No, nor mine now.  (Act III, scene ii)

Love’s Labour’s Lost:  Act V

ME:  Thank God for that!

HER:  You’ve finished?

ME:  Yup!

HER:  Great, so now you never have to read it again.

(pause)

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PTS 09/055: The Rough Wooing of the Monstrous Regiment

Where is the ‘son-in-law’ material in LLL?

 

BH NIgel
Dad, this is Nigel … we’re in love!

Love’s Labour’s Lost:  Act IV

My life has been filled with obsessions, and for reasons too complex to go into here, about twenty-five years ago, one of them was Scottish history.  With no knowledge ever completely wasted, it’s contributed to where and who I am today, struggling with this play, and especially to find any kind of empathy with its male characters.

Put simply, if I had a daughter, none of these men would be son-in-law material …

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Cultural Capital 02: The Book of Genesis

It doesn’t get much more influential than the ‘good book’ in English Literature …

BH blues brothers
Do you see the light?

[Second in a series of articles aimed at our ‘A Level’ students, addressing gaps in their general and literary knowledge.  Read the previous article, On Dante’s Inferno, here]


 

Jehovahs Witnesses‘Good morning [big smile]!

In the Christmas season, who do you think is the greatest gift-giver of them all?’

(this happened to me a few weeks back)

No – don’t slam the door !  I’m genuinely not here to convert you.  But if there’s just one text that has gifted the most sources of inspiration and allusion to our Western literary tradition, it’s probably the Old Testament Book of Genesis.  Estimates vary, but its very strong messages on obedience and patriarchy have been influencing society for about 3,000 years.

This would be the book to choose alongside Shakespeare’s Complete Works when looking for the most influential literary works.

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