‘When ignorant men are overwhelmed by forces totally beyond their control and their understanding it is inevitable that they will search for some explanation within their grasp. When they are frightened and badly hurt then they will seek someone on whom they can be revenged. […] What was needed, therefore, was a suitable target for the indignation of the people, preferably a minority group, easily identifiable, already unpopular, widely scattered and lacking any powerful protector.’
Philip Ziegler, The Black Death, (The Folio Society, London: 1997) Cover image: Francis Mosley
The plague was too immediate, too visceral, for Shakespeare to include more than a passing reference to it in his plays.In Romeo and Juliet it’s a factor in the tragedy, but at a safe distance.
Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakesandale? (Twelfth Night)
Allow me to introduce the non-Redditors amongst you to the Democratic People’s Republic of R/Literature. When you get there, it sounds great, doesn’t it?
Welcome to /r/literature, a community for deeper discussions of plays, poetry, short stories, and novels. Discussions of literary criticism, literary history, literary theory, and critical theory are also welcome–strongly encouraged, even.
and yet, all this fancy aspirational stuff doesn’t really mean a thing. Read the following from the bottom up.
This is, in many ways, one of the reasons why I started blogging …
Why do we still study Shakespeare 400 years after his death?
Our year 12 stint on Richard III is now beginning to wane – we start Act 5 next week, and will essentially be done by the end of the Autumn Term on 16 December. Then I’ll sadly take a break from teaching Shakespeare until after Easter, when I’ll be looking at Much Ado About Nothing (year 8), probably Hamlet or Julius Caesar (year 9), and Macbeth (year 10). My only ‘early modern’ fix in the Spring term is Marlowe’sEdward II. Happy Days.
As the year 12 course has unfolded, keeping pace with the final stages of the US elections, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to leave the next leader of the free world out of our discussions. With one difference: I grudgingly admire one of these larger-than-life characters, and have nothing but contempt for the other …