QotW: 11 June 2018 (#45)

“Let’s leave politics out of Shakespeare” … Hello? Hello? Anybody in there?

BH thrillist
image:  thrillist.com

If I had a pound for each time I was challenged, ‘What’s Shakespeare got to do with me?‘, this blog would have more bells and whistles on it, as well as many more posts to reflect not having to work for a living.

This week’s post was prompted in part by reading somewhere in my recent internet travels, the notion of ‘keeping politics out of Shakespeare.’  That plus a ‘setting the world to rights‘ drinking session which was actively, intensely political, and which was also chock-full of Shakespearean dilemmas and situations.

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QotW (#43): 28 May 2018

Manners maketh the man, it seems …

Elizabeth I of England

It wasn’t till I got to University that I came across Malcolm’s ‘king becoming graces’ in Macbeth.  I thought them startling – an almost impudent challenge to James I about what the country expected from their new monarch, in a play which, I’m increasingly convinced, is all about what it means to be a ‘man’:

As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,  (IV, iii) [a]

But what of those in the level below?  What were the expectations placed on nobles and courtiers?

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A Restless Ecstasy …

Here’s looking at you, H …

BH RIII I i 1.001

So.

It’s been a long, hard, day.  No, really!  In amongst the pre-school meeting; the marking; the trying to keep your errant Year 11s just on this side of hysteria, given they have their second English Lit exam on Friday; the data (two classes’ worth, by lunchtime, thanks very much); the lunchtime storytelling club for younger pupils; the broken photocopiers; and the almost insignificant matter of actually teaching,  you need an oasis of calm.

Or two …

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Quote of the Week: 30 April 2018 (#39)

Actually, INTERTEXTUALITY is king in English Lit …

BH penguin mountain

Think of this familiar toy as Jan Kott‘s Great Mechanism of History.

With one small difference: imagine that once the cute penguins reach the top – kingship – the next step is not an exhilarating slide but more of a plunge onto the razor-sharp rocks of tragedy.  They are immediately replaced by the next penguin (King Penguin?  Emperor Penguin?) on his or her own journey to bloody immolation and little more than the proverbial footnote in the history book, if they’re lucky …

‘It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ [a]

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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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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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