Quote of the Week: 30 October

Some genuine questions for Shakespeare-deniers, prompted by Ivor Brown’s labour of love …

BH ivor brownIvor Brown, Shakespeare (The Reprint Society: London, 1951)

This was a real find, as I’m discovering, at £1 from a second-hand bookshop in North Wales.

Brown has a wonderful writing style, self-deprecating and witty, subtly acerbic at times.  In this book he reminds me of an English (although to be precise he was born in Penang) version of Bill Bryson.

He freely admits that there is simply no need for yet another book on Shakespeare, but that it is a labour of love.  I think I feel the same way.

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PTS 07/043: The Bad Death of Eduard (Delacroix) IV

What could be worse than dying, believing that you’re going to hell?

BH eduard delacroix
No trigger warnings, sorry …

PTS read-through:  Richard III, Act II, scene i

June 27, 1996.  George Street, Luton, at a bus stop opposite the town hall. Genuinely nauseous to the verge of throwing up.  Could I have torn my eyes up from the book I was reading, I would broadly have seen the image below …

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I’ve … seen things …

It often takes something (we consider) sub-human to remind us of our humanity …

BH blade runner

‘… you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Time to die.’

Not that you needed me to complete the speech, I dare say … I’m also guessing you want to watch it again (I had to), so here it is.

The weekend brings an exciting reward for my ‘holiday’ week’s hard marking. On consecutive nights I’ll be watching Bladerunner: The Final Cut, and then Bladerunner 2049.  And I’ve got my tattered copy of Philip K Dick‘s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep‘ (1968) out – the first non-Shakespeare/EMP book I have read in weeks, or perhaps even months …

Yet there is, because there always is, an opportunity for me to connect to Shakespeare.

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 008

WE CANNOT, MUST NOT, WIPE ART WITH ANTI-BACTERIAL WIPES BEFORE ALLOWING THE NEXT GENERATION TO HANDLE IT …

BH CSF blinding of Gloucester
‘Out, vile jelly’:  the blinding of Gloucester …

I took this picture – from King Lear – at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival back in 2012.  I often show it to pupils who try to tell me that Shakespeare is ‘boring‘.  Or indeed I give them some of the plot details from Titus Andronicus that have caused such concern of late …

It’s taken me a little while to allow this one to sink in to the extent that it became a ‘crime’, but in the Dock, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, I give you no less than the English Faculty of Cambridge University (or at least some members of that august institution) …

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Quote of the Week: 23 October

Christ, this is IT […] THIS is why I do it.  All of it.

BH the summing upW. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (Penguin:  London, 1992)

Today’s post is all about one simple fact: the world-wide-web existed centuries before the Internet.  Before electricity, in fact.  And I want you to plug into it.

I find it apposite, and slightly ironic that writing about Shakespeare, and without any deliberate choice on my part – I promise you – I’m listening to the Tron Legacy soundtrack as I type this.  My other literary love is Science Fiction, and again, the point I’m making relates to that intoxicating cocktail of the 16th and 26th centuries, with a dash of the present thrown in.

So, the pre-internet web …

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Hay Spiel Chequer Lessen …

Stewed-ants, too-daze lessen his a bout de weighs inn witch spiel-chequers cant bee deep-ended own.

BH weakish speller

I dedicate this to all the Y12 and Y13 students whose typed submissions I am marking at the moment.  You deserve something in return for the frequent face-palms and occasional belly-laughs you are giving me …

Hay Spiel-Chequer Lessen.

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PTS 07/042: Mr Sandman, Dream Me A Dream …

If there’s another Shakespeare play in which dreams loom as large, I’ve yet to read it …

BH Paul Berry sandman
A still from Paul Berry’s wonderful short film

PTS Shakespeare read-through – Richard III, Act I sc iv.

Back in early 1997, I discovered that my eldest son was on his way.  The pregnancy was unplanned, and to say the least a shock to a frankly very immature young man who was focussed on nothing but wine, women and song – not necessarily in that order. To be fair to him, books sometimes made an appearance, too.  He was, I like to think, a completely different person to the one who’s writing this evening – I look back on him with some shame (on sleepness nights), listing the apologies I owe people.

Anyway, that night, I dreamed that I was eating scissors – large pairs, practically garden shears – but as I chewed them, they transformed into soft, grey liquorice (which I happen to enjoy, luckily).

Disturbed, I went to my mum, who has the folk wisdom of the ancients in some things, and absolutely no common-sense when it comes to others (oh, the stories I could tell).  She does, though, have an almost medieval belief in dreams.  I told her my dream, but not my news. And she told me that although I was expecting, dreading hard times ahead, I’d find that what I feared would actually be far, far better than expected.

She was right …

So I’m interested, with a lower case ‘i’, in dreams, with a lower case ‘d’. I have many very lucid dreams, and lots of nested dreams, a bit like the film Inception, where through effort I can transfer from one dream to another. They fascinate me, even as they unsettle me.

And if there’s another Shakespeare play in which dreams loom as large, I’ve yet to read it …

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