My Shakespeare Bromance

What was the first word I thought of when I heard the word, ‘Shakespeare’?

BH upstart_crow_0103
‘Here’s tae us, wha’s like us?’  as Rabbie Burns might say

Apologies.  I’m neglecting my PonyTail Shakespeare read-through, but suddenly writing more frequently, and hopefully more pithily (but I somehow doubt that), at the moment.  Let’s see how long it lasts …

I’ve already recommended Duane’s blog – the longest-running Shakespeare blog I know of – to you.  Tonight – and I had something work-related to do – I stopped by whilst having dinner, and promptly got distracted. Which is what the best blogs do, right?

The internet being a brilliant example of intertextuality, Duane’s most recent post is itself a response to something he read on Reddit.  And here I am, responding in turn.

The premise is ‘What do you think of when you hear the word Shakespeare?

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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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PTS 10/060: The Gods DO play dice …

Act III places us at the game table, jostling Shakespeare for a view of the goings-on in that VERY busy wood …

BH Discworld Gods
‘No smiting.  Not up here.  It is the rules.  You want fight, you get your humans fight his humans. [1]
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III: with apologies to Albert Einstein [2]

On reflection, it seems odd that as a child experiencing / undergoing / suffering a Catholic education, once a year, on our ‘Saint’s Day’ –  St Martin de Porres: 03 November – we were treated to a film in the school hall which was invariably a Ray Harryhausen epic.

Not that I want to complain.  I loved them, and still do.

They fostered an appetite for the ancient world – for Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, Jason … any number of  heroes and their associated monsters.  And, like the Book of Genesis, they’ve proved to be invaluable in teaching Literature.

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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 …

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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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PTS 09/053: A Reminder to Rebel

I’d stopped listening to the voices in my head, and actually, they’re the important ones in English.

BH Green Goldfish

My Ponytail Shakespeare read-through project is behind schedule.

Not drowning, necessarily – still waving, to paraphrase Stevie Smith, but wishing I wasn’t quite so far away from the shore, paddling blithely in the warm shallows of Romeo and Juliet, as I should be by the end of January; having splashy fun with the rest of the blog and my new excursions on Twitter.  But fifty-plus posts and nine plays in?  Not dead.

That said, despite plenty of opportunity, I’ve ‘not got round to‘ reading Act III of Love’s Labour’s Lost.  I’m still reading:  Iain M BanksPaolo Bacigalupi, and chunks of George Wilson Knight on Julius Caesar, but, when all’s said and done, no Shakespeare or LLL.

We might say I’ve lost any love of my labour in this play … (sorry about that)

Why?

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PTS 08/048: Man is not truly one …

Antipholus (E) is NOT a twenty-first century role model – but was he a sixteenth-century one?

BH jekyll hyde

… but truly two.’  Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

PTS read through:  Comedy of Errors, Act IV

In 2018, the notion of what it means to be a ‘man’ feels ever more opaque, with behaviours and attitudes being scrutinised as never before, perhaps.  As a gender, we sometimes appear confused about the path we ought to take to find a satisfying and yet socially acceptable direction or self-definition.

Maybe it was ever thus.

In yesterday’s post on Macbeth I touched upon the fragility of our hero’s notions of himself when his masculinity was challenged by his wife.  Macbeth is largely a play about what it means to be a man, but that’s way down the line in terms of my reading schedule.  Reading Act IV of Comedy of Errors felt like one of those non-comic interludes towards the end of plays like Much Ado About Nothing, and instead of laughing, I found myself thinking about what Antipholus (E) implies a ‘man’ should be.  It’s not an attractive picture …

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