My gut reaction deserted me a little for this one, perhaps because of the subject matter, so I found myself consulting both my girlfriend and my best friend, the latter also an English teacher. Second and third opinions corroborating my initial intake of breath, and therefore I am pleased to present you my latest Crimes Against Shakespeare Award …
Ponytail Shakespeare: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act II.
If The Taming of the Shrew was about disguises, William C Carroll is right in considering The Two Gentlemen as a text about metamorphosis in the tradition of Ovid.
Before we look at these transformations, though, a word on Silvia. It drives me mad every time I hear or read someone preface some ill-informed remark with ‘Shakespeare was …’ More on this at regular intervals, I suspect. But for the moment, let’s take a small nibble at ‘Shakespeare was misogynist‘.
One of my opening gambits with new classes every year is the simple statement that I don’t do TV. ‘We might as well get it out of the way, folks.’ I loathe, truly loathe, the way it commands all my senses, to the exclusion of anything else. I usually read with mood music, I can type listening to something too (it’s Pink Floyd‘s Brick In The Wall at the moment), but I simply dislike TV as a way to spend my precious spare time. Reading, no, reading is NOT the same.
Recently, I wrote about bringing your personal baggage to your interpretation and enjoyment of texts. It’s why I re-read: every few years I genuinely believe I approach a text as a different person, changed in infinite, indescribable ways by my experiences.
This is my first time with the Two Gentlemen, though, and I approached this text with some trepidation. It has a reputation – despite being the first play performed at the newly-built Globe – and Dennis Carey‘s reaction on being asked to direct the play was not reassuring:
“I had only just read the play, and was badly shaken. Could the author really be grateful to anyone for preserving this youthful, unfinished, minor exercise?”
David Riggs: The World of Christopher Marlowe(Faber and Faber: London, 2004)
If you squint, you’ll see that this was one of the books I bought as retail therapy a short while back. I tackled this one first owing to my commitments to teach Edward II again this coming school year – I was hoping to get a few additional nuggets about Marlowe‘s private life.
The book has turned out to be an absolute revelation …