The 2018 Shakespeare Top 10

Forget the Oscars, here are some winners that REALLY matter to me …

BH Ardens
Not – quite – my collection of Ardens … soon, soon!

We HATE lists, don’t we?

Except, actually we bloody love them, if it’s something we’re interested in.

No, really.

That said, the last thing we want is a list that agrees with our perceptions – the dopamine rush of validation is very short-lived compared to the opportunity to passionately argue our disagreement.  We LOVE subjective opinions.  Trust me – my wonderfully fulfilling University years were full of essays arguing the toss – why, for example:

  • Dracula should not be judged for his ‘special dietary requirements’, whereas Van Helsing and his bunch are vindictive bastards;
  • we ought to respect Edward Hyde for his refreshing honesty, as opposed to Henry Jekyll‘s hypocrisy; or
  • Ursula K. Le Guin’s (RIP) The Left Hand of Darkness, whilst a superb book, had no place in the Science Fiction module

You get the picture:  English Lit is a tailor-made subject for those who are argumentative and prepared to do the spadework to back-up their cockiness …

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Quote of the Week: 26 February 2018 (#30)

Almost nothing seems to have changed in 400 years … as usual …

BH womans placesubtitled, ‘Food for powder

Matthew Beaumont:  Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London (London:  Verso Books, 2015)

My recent article on Gayle Rubin‘s important Feminist work, ‘The Traffic in Women’ touched upon what has been historically expected of women, especially working class ones.  Rubin takes a look at the Marxist position before developing it into a gender rather than class-specific argument:  the commodification of women in the marriage market.  It’s an excellent read.

And we see Rubin’s position everywhere in Shakespeare and the EMP, where women constantly struggle against the social imperative to marry a man who ticks boxes for their family / parents, love coming as an unexpected bonus.  Even comedies such as The Dream feature the tension between ‘kinship‘ and ‘companionate‘ marriages.

To say nothing of the pressures Elizabeth I was under, of course …

In my article, I dipped into Beaumont‘s book for a supporting quotation, but it’s been weighing on my mind.  I think it needs to be considered on its own merits.

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PTS 09/054: 400 Year-Old Smoke Signals

Sometimes the smoke is easier to read than others …

BH smoke

Love’s Labour’s Lost – Act III

Inspired by Ursula K Le Guin and The Pet Shop Boys, I picked this up again with a steely glint in my eye.  I’ll read.  I’ll gloss.  I’ll conquer!

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PTS 09/051: Women Weaken Legs (and Brains, too)

Lesson 1: Books, no matter how interesting, are not a girlfriend substitute …

BH Rocky and Micky
‘You lay off that pet shop dame.  Women weaken legs!’ ~ Mickey (Burgess Meredith)

PTS read through:  Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act I

It feels appropriate to arrive at this play in the month when it seems you’re not a functioning member of society if you don’t add some kind of punishing denial to the post-Christmas blues:  Dry January, the unappetising-sounding Veganuary, or in my case, the Walk 1,000 Miles in 2018 challenge (already behind schedule).  Personally, I think we’ve enough to cope with, waiting for things to warm up and the nights to become appreciably longer.

Nevertheless, this is how the play opens – with a preposterous resolution by the foolish King of Navarre and three of his intimates to ‘abjure the rough magic’ of the fair sex. Unlike Rocky’s trainer Mickey, they’re worried about the intellectual rather than physical effects that women may have on them

I give them a maximum of ten minutes, stage time …

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PTS 08/049: No Weddings and No Funerals

Not everyone gets their just desserts as our RomCom ends …

BH CoE finale
Do I know you?

The Comedy of Errors, Act V

Shakespeare has plenty to do in the 400-odd lines of Act V.  The general confusion needs to create a crisis before we can have our happy ending – in this case, perhaps an equivocal, unsatisfying one, but more on that later.

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PTS 05/031: I Don’t Know Whether To Laugh or Cry …

BH comedy tragedy

‘Good comedy is tragedy narrowly averted’ Jonathan Bate

The Two Gentlemen of Verona:  Act V

Over the past year I’ve used the question ‘What’s in a name?’ more than once, dismissing labelling in its many forms, but this feels the best way of articulating my unease with The Two Gentlemen as I finish the play …

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PTS 05/030: There’s nothing ill …

BH mirror mirror
Mirror, mirror, on the wall …

The Two Gentlemen of Verona:  Act IV

Thus far, I feel like I’ve been quite objective about the play, glossing over the obvious errors about travelling by boat between land-locked cities, etc. I’m not one to lionise Shakespeare (whatever my other half thinks), but nor am I interested in joining the current fad I see online for ‘dissing’ him.

Having said that, Act IV begins with a ‘mote to trouble the mind’s eye‘, though – and more on it later, but Act V trumps even this episode. What am I talking about?

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