Tag: Shakespeare

Quote of the Day: Paean To A Plain Woman

 

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare–William Shakespeare

I’ve always thought of this poem as vindication for the rest of us.  One for the ladies who’ve always smiled, then shrugged, at a thousand years of poetic conceits they can’t possibly delude themselves into believing apply to them.  One for those of us who grew up feeling pretty secure about our faces and our bodies, and whose parents told us we shouldn’t have to make up, dress up, or pout like a Hollywood starlet in order to “catch” a man; and that if that’s what it took, such a man wasn’t worth catching, anyway.   One for those of us who were taught that life would take its course, that love would come one day, and that if we were kind and decent with each other, we’d happily and gracefully grow fat and decrepit together.

One for those of us who, when we walk, “tread on the ground.” And know it.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Rafe Esquith, an award-winning teacher at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles, and the founder of The Hobart Shakespeareans, who annually stage performances of unabridged plays by William Shakespeare. He shares why he founded the award-winning program to teach disadvantaged Los Angeles elementary school students a classical humanities curriculum, the most inspiring experiences and the biggest challenges of teaching highly demanding literary works to young schoolchildren from diverse backgrounds. They explore techniques he uses to help students connect with Shakespeare as well as great authors across the ages.

Stories of the Week: The University of California system agreed Friday to extend its test-free admissions policy through 2025, addressing claims that the use of SAT and ACT results discriminates against applicants based on race, income, and disability. Responding to inequities with regard to internet access that were revealed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education will subsidize broadband service for millions of underprivileged K-12 students and college students.

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From my peer-reviewed article (in somewhat different form), “Shakespeare’s Knowledge of Law: A Journey through the History of the Argument” Let me state clearly that I do not claim to prove that Shakespeare had a formal legal education. Instead, I claim that the argument favoring a formal legal education is significantly stronger than the argument against […]

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My Shakespeare Confession

 

Okay, I admit it. I am a Shakespeare heretic. Well, 95 percent, anyway. I know, I know. Some of you are already shaking your head thinking I’m going to start talking cryptograms and conspiracies and such nonsense. I’m used to it. I stumbled into being a heretic almost 35 years ago and there’s always a significant contingent of head-shakers when the subject comes up. That’s okay. I’m really not interested in convincing anyone. I just find it fascinating, that’s all

I started out a math/science guy in school, looking at a career in computer programming. Shakespeare had made no dent in my consciousness. Then I sold an article to a personal computer magazine and decided to become a writer, switching my major to English. I experienced a great Shakespeare professor in an upper-division class. Authorship never came up. Not until I was a graduate student.

Authorship was far from my thoughts that day in the mid-1980s when I was browsing Tower Books in Sacramento, CA, and stumbled upon Charlton Ogburn’s The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth & the Reality. It was a hefty tome of 900+ pages, and I remember thinking, Whoa, the lengths someone will go to just to get attention.

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One of the great reads on Shakespeare is Harold C. Goddard’s The Meaning of Shakespeare, Volume 1. What a teacher this man must have been! (Head of the English Dept. at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in the 1930s and 40s.) Published in 1950 by The Chicago University Press, it has never been out of print. […]

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Why We Need Shakespeare Now More than Ever

 

Yes, the War Against Shakespeare has been going on for years now. But the Woke Supremacists in universities are stepping up the volume, because, you know, Shakespeare is not relevant today. It’s not just because he represents white-supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and all other -isms. No. He’s not relevant.

What can Shakespeare possibly have to say to today’s youth, or today’s young adults, or even today’s old adults? How can Shakespeare possibly be relevant to them? Let’s take a moment to imagine…

The Play’s the … You Know … the Thing

 

Perhaps the Dems are pushing a doddering and forgetful white man with a young female heir because they are trying to tell a story; the party is pathetic and a little crazy as it wanders in the wilderness, cast out by an ungrateful public. It is also ancient, white and white-haired. It will be rescued by the loyal young female who takes the old white guy in but is the actual ruler.

It’s King Lear for millennials and a psychodrama that appeals to people who still love the old white guy and to those who can’t wait to see him leave the stage both because you’ve elected the story to play out in real-time.

Now Is the Play of Our Discontent

 

When one thinks of great Russian literature, one does not associate it with the time period of Stalin. Venezuela probably has great literature in its history, but I doubt much of it is written today by some crony of Maduro. But such is the oddness of the English language and the English people that the greatest flowering of English literature happened during the time of an illegitimate, usurping dynasty that had its thumb squarely upon the people and the arts created, a dynasty that resorted to execution more than any since.

Some say Shakespeare was a genius for his accomplishments. But how much more of a genius was he that he accomplished all that he did in an oppressive atmosphere that saw many locked up or executed for offending the Tudor monarch? A play like Romeo and Juliet might not have been too dangerous. Classical comedies and tragedies were not too dangerous, especially when set in places like Italy. The Taming of the Shrew? Two Gentlemen of Verona? But Shakespeare delved into another realm altogether: the history play. With histories from far off in time, indeed, apocryphal histories, such as King Lear and Macbeth, danger was not so apparent, yet Shakespeare came closer in time, right up to the time of his monarch. And in the writing of these nearer histories, Shakespeare prostituted himself, becoming the propagandist of the Tudor Dynasty, or did he?

Qotd: Prince Hal to Henry V

 

Presume not that I am the thing I was!—William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2

The character speaking here is the newly crowned Henry V. As “Prince Hal,” he had endured and even enjoyed low company. He has known all of his kingdom’s rascals and rogues. But now he is king. He is a new-made thing, who is now in charge of enforcement of the law, and because of his misspent youth, he knows just where the heavy hand of the law should bear down.

ACF Critic Series #9: Paul Cantor

 

We’re adding a new critic to the ACF podcast: America’s eminent Shakespearian, Paul Cantor! He’s a writer I admire and from whom I have learned much on Shakespeare–much to my surprise and delight, he’s getting into film criticism in a big way and he’s in the mood to talk about it. We have a long interview to offer you, the first in a series of discussions about pop culture in America. We go from Godfather to Breaking Bad, we get to super-hero movies and ancient mythic heroes–to tragedy in Greece and in Shakespeare’s England–and lots of other things about TV and movies in-between. Also, we do more than a little talking about Mark Twain. Listen and share friends, join the conversation in the comments, and read more Cantor!

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I have the strangest of problems. My daughter is a bright, bookish 16-year-old, and therefore ought to be the bullseye of the target demographic for fans of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. She hates it; she hates it passionately, aggressively, and evangelistically. I’ve tried to explain its greatness: the heartbreak of the ending, the symphonic music […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America groan over Donald Trump Jr.’s stunningly poor judgment and apparent willingness to seek campaign assistance from a foreign government, while also lamenting the continued media hysteria over these latest revelations.  They are wary of Mitch McConnell’s decision to delay the traditional August recess, worrying that it might not be very productive and, therefore, more damaging to an already embarrassed GOP.  Finally, in a discussion of David Brooks’ controversial column about class divisions in America that features a bizarre anecdote about sandwich elitism, Jim admits that he himself is, to quote Shakespeare, “lowly taught, but highly fed.”

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Summer is coming, and with it one of the treats of summer in Kansas City: the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.  Modeled after New York’s Shakespeare in the Park, it is an opportunity for us to experience the best local actors playing Shakespeare for free. This year is the play is “Hamlet.” I love “Hamlet,” particularly […]

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Beware the Ides of March

 

Caesar: The ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar, but not gone.
— Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1.

The word ides is derived from the ancient Roman calendar and comes from the Latin idus, which, as Oxford explains it, means “a day falling roughly in the middle of each month (the 15th day of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th of other months) from which other dates were calculated.”

In the beginning of Shakespeare’s excellent play, Julius Caesar has this premonitory exchange with the soothsayer:

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What makes Shakespeare a classic author? Put simply, it is his marvelous ability to depict human nature. Reading Shakespeare is like encountering a curtain that covers up a statue. Shakespeare, the author, is the curtain; his characters are the statue. When you first start reading Shakespeare, the name of the author is foremost on one’s […]

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In our previous lessons, we learned about everything necessary to enable us to compose what some would call the pinnacle of English-language poetry, the English sonnet. We have learned about measurement systems, rhyme, rhythms, formal lines, and the pivot. Now, we shall put these all together into one package. History and Origin: The English sonnet, […]

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The classic romance tragedy: two lovers from different worlds fall in love.  However, their worlds collide with one another, creating a challenge to their relationship.  They will either fall because of the conflict (the original, tragic ending), or they will overcome it (a more satisfying ending for many).  This is such a great plot that offers […]

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