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comment by flagamuffin
flagamuffin  ·  1188 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: March 14th: What are you reading this week?

I started a book about Shakespeare lil sent me. It's light but I've been traveling so I haven't dented it yet.

My foray into Guy Gavriel Kay is pretty much over. In about a month I'll have cleared out the miscellaneous books on my bedside table and I'll be ready for a new project.

lil  ·  1187 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hey flags, start denting. I just read the Hamlet chapter. He is describing Hamlet as caught between the feudal world and the Renaissance: "He wants to shape the old chaotic and corrupt world according to the principles of the new rationality which he has studied at Wittenberg. And of course you cannot do this; you cannot live in one world according to the principles of another world. This is what we call tragedy." (. 48)

Here are the details (p. 50):

    This is the contradictory Hamlet who takes his father's ghost's orders seriously enough to say that he doesn't care if he dies in carrying them out, and who then does not execute them. This is the Hamlet who says that theatre is a lie and then says that it can reveal the truth, the Hamlet who laughs at the idiocy of Young Fortinbras and says that he should try to be more like him. The is the Hamlet who believes that he can deal in a world of death and yet bring order to it, the man who would try to make the irrational reasonable. It is the contradictions of his time, embodied in his own thinking that make for Hamlet's delay, not his desire to sleep with his mother or his tragic flaw as a shirker. By accepting his duty to kill and then trying the make that killing significant in all the proper details, Hamlet is trying to keep a foot in each of two contradictory worlds, to use the ideas of one for the sordid tasks of the other.

I'm heading towards Othello now.

Edit The book is called Shakespeare Is Hard, but so Is Life.

flagamuffin  ·  1182 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I am never sure about judging literature in the context of social change. I wonder if the author is making a similar mistake to those 19th-century critics who extrapolated Shakespeare from Euripides, or whatever. Shakespeare is more genuinely timeless than basically any author I have read, but the author goes from 'boy in 1850 they were dumb to judge Shakespeare through this lens' straight to 'here is the lens under which I feel the need to judge him'. Okay.

There is a bottom line, and I think it is neither. I haven't finished yet, though.

I really like what he said about power and status and the main characters of the four primary "tragedies." And I'm learning a lot about this 'schoolroom stereotype' of Shakespeare -- I never paid attention in/went to English class so I guess I missed that. Nowadays it is required to teach edgy Vietnam memoirs and books which will influence how children think, rather than simply the best stories. (A separate conversation, but I have to say how scary this is. Treasure Island and Great Expectations encourage kids to imagine, dream and feel emotion. The modern curriculum puts thoughts into their heads, fully-formed.)

flagamuffin  ·  1186 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I very much agree with that sentiment. It's a microcosm of a very important thing, damn I don't have words to describe what I'm tryodrgjpietrhetyh

I'm denting

goo  ·  1186 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Is the book an analysis on Shakespeare? I love his works, and this sounds interesting!

lil  ·  1185 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The book focuses on the tragedies... and why everything they taught you in school about tragic flaws and tragic heroes was inappropriate for Shakespeare. Quite lovely writing, not to mention a great title.