QotW (#87): 02 September 2019

… and we’re back to school today, for another year’s fun and games.

Cue all kinds of traffic on Twitter and elsewhere on-line: pre-battle speeches from the veterans; advice sought by the newbies, and given by the self-styled ‘influencers’; new teaching-year resolutions declared; virtue-signalling pictures of classroom displays, and so on …

Have I got anything to add to the Babel? Not really.  I’d rather chat about Literature …

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PTS 014/089: The Merchant of Venice Soundtrack Album

bh-wurlitzer

Every play needs a proper send-off as I amble through the PonyTail Shakespeare read-through – bearing in mind my current pace, there’s no telling when I might read them again.

As ever, the selection is a little, erratic, and I’m already feeling the need to disown any implied connection to number 3 …

 

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PTS 014/088: With This Ring … ?

brand

RICHARD: Vouchsafe to wear this ring.

ANNE: To take is not to give.’ (RIII, I.ii)

PTS read-through:  The Merchant of Venice, Act V

Occasionally, actually quite often if you’re me, you say things in class which get far more of a reaction than you anticipated. One of those moments came recently, when I suggested that an engagement ring was a symbol of ownership, not so different from a brand on a cow, if you thought about it.

Silence invaded the room’, as Steinbeck might have said.

The students were either reappraising their world-views, or they were reappraising me. It’s never easy to tell which.

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PTS 014/087: Looking into the Abyss

monster in mirror

PTS read-through:  The Merchant of Venice, Act IV

          Sooner or later, it’s perhaps inevitable that readers of The Merchant of Venice confront one question:  is this an anti-Semitic play?  In fact, lots of people seem to have a view without having seen or read the play.

          The answer is yes – and no. 

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[book review] Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time

tey hospital bed man
No, Inspector Grant, you can’t get a hunchback from reading about it …

Is this the ultimate ‘cold case’?

The Daughter of Time arrives with some hefty baggage in terms of its critical reception.

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PTS 14/086: A Tale of Two Daughters

hen do 2
Jessica screamed, “It’s MY hen party!  What are you, my DAD?”

… sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child!  (Lear:  I.iv) [a]

PTS read-through:  The Merchant of Venice, Act III

Daughters.  Who’d have them?

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PTS 14/085: Ye Olde Three-Card Monte

three-card-monte

PTS read-through:  The Merchant of Venice, Act II

‘Watch the plays, don’t read them!’

Advice given so often to people who say they ‘don’t get’ Shakespeare – advice I almost always disregard, much preferring the film running in my head as I read.  But there’s one time when I find reading difficult, and that’s the multi-scene act.  It distracted me last time I read The Merchant of Venice, and it has done this time, too.  Just don’t speak to me about Antony and Cleopatra‘s 42 scenes …

And yet, for all that there are nine scenes in Act II, there are only really two plots.

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QotW (#69): 25 February 2019

Illustration; Bear Baiting with dogs in the 16th century
‘They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,
But, bear-like, I must fight the course’. Macbeth, V,vii [a]
If you flick over to my Goodreads page, you’ll see me taking in a lot more historical fiction this year, and unusually, this week’s quotation is taken from one of them – albeit the introduction.

It’s something to especially bear in mind now The Merchant of Venice has come round in my read-through.

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PTS 14/084: Why dost thou spit at me?

camel
[title from Richard III: I, ii]
Ponytail Shakespeare read-through:  The Merchant of Venice, Act I

Bring your baggage to the texts‘, I always say …

By this I mean your life experiences, the nature, the nurture, the things that define you, good and bad.  These are what make your responses to texts individual; they are what lets texts get under your skin as you measure yourself against the moral and ethical dilemmas they present; they, as experience changes you, are what make occasional re-reading such a thought-provoking and rewarding exercise.

So why am I feeling so uneasy about Antonio this time round?

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QotW (#68) 18 February 2019

rumsfeld.jpg

First (my QotW comes later), a few pithy words from Donald Rumsfeld in February 2007:

‘There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.’

Something worth bearing in mind as the Ponytail Shakespeare read-through canters on to The Merchant of Venice

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