You ought to know me by now, after almost 4 years and not far off 400 posts …
Not overly-blessed with common sense (as my Dearest Partner of Greatness) would confirm; prone to flights of giddy excitement, silliness even; with a pretty good memory for quotations and an eye for intertextual connections; but usually sceptical when it comes to wild conspiracy theories, especially about Shakespeare.
So I want to be clear that this is not one of the latter.
there is an vpstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers heart wrapt in a Players hide , supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Iohannes factotum , is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrie. [a]
Stop and think for a moment – the more you read, the less you find that is truly original. *
Maybe it’s ironic to quote an author I haven’t read – apart from a single short story in a SF anthology (‘The Way of the Cross and the Dragon’ (1978), if anyone’s interested) – but this is the second time I’ve used GRR Martin‘s quotation (and indeed this image):
‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.’
‘Everyone‘ says I would love Martin’s work if I could find the time to read it, by the way. It’s not even close to reaching the slopes of Mount Tsundoku at the moment.
If Marxist literary criticism were renamed, say Contextual Critical Theory, I wonder if it would be taken more seriously by the uninitiated … like rebranding Labour as ‘New Labour’ in the UK helped Tony Bliar (intentional misspelling) come to power in 1997 … How can we possibly dissociate a text from the society in which it was created, or indeed from the intertextual cauldron that formed the author’s views?
Actually, INTERTEXTUALITY is king in English Lit …
Think of this familiar toy as Jan Kott‘s Great Mechanism of History.
With one small difference: imagine that once the cute penguins reach the top – kingship – the next step is not an exhilarating slide but more of a plunge onto the razor-sharp rocks of tragedy. They are immediately replaced by the next penguin (King Penguin? Emperor Penguin?) on his or her own journey to bloody immolation and little more than the proverbial footnote in the history book, if they’re lucky …
‘It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ [a]
Christ, this is IT […] THIS is why I do it. All of it.
W. 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.