A plague on both your houses …

BH The Black Death 2‘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.

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PTS 02/010 The Early Modern Period Hunger Games?

BH PST 02:010 Hunger
On your marks … get set … GLOUCESTER!

Henry VI II:  Act II

Sorrow on thee and all the pack of you

That triumph thus upon my misery! 

(KATHERINA, The Taming of the Shrew:  IV.iii.33-34)

When the nobility goes hunting; it seems they do it in packs …

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‘Art any more than a steward?’

subtitled thus:

Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? (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.

BH Censorship.jpg
Note to u/DiggDejected: you are NOT Donald Trump, so why attempt to restrict my free and not-really-that-controversial-at-all speech?  In any event, ‘Mein Trumpf’ uses Twitter, not Reddit.  PS:  ‘YOU can still view and subscribe to my ass’ whilst I await your reply.

This is, in many ways, one of the reasons why I started blogging …

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You’ll put down strangers?

This isn’t a political blog, at all.  It’s not supposed to be, at least.

But, for shame.  I can’t sit by.  Nor, I’d like to think, would Shakespeare …

bh-statue-of-bigotry
Photo  by Abel Guerrero

Lou Reed sung, in ‘Dirty Boulevard’:

Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor I’ll piss on ’em

That’s what the Statue of Bigotry says

Your poor huddled masses

Let’s club ’em to death

And get it over with and just dump ’em on the boulevard

And Shakespeare?

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Is Donald Trump Richard III reincarnated?

riii-csf-2013-82250
I took this image of ‘Richard’ at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival in 2013.

“I am unfit for state and majesty”

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’s Edward 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 …

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