Do not bid me remember mine end
April 23, 2016 3:14 PM   Subscribe

William Shakespeare, playwright and poet, is dead at 52 of causes unknown. Shakespeare often meditated upon death in his works, once stating "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player/ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/ And then is heard no more." In one of his last recorded texts, he urged sympathy for immigrants.

The playwright's passing has sparked coverage by the BBC and the Guardian, and tributes from President Obama, the RSC and others.

As a worthy remembrance of him, why not watch some of his work? Richard II, starring David Tennant, is now available worldwide online for the first time. Otherwise, help yourself to some sexy foodstuffs or consolatory cake. Or better yet, insult someone-- it's what he would have wanted.
posted by Pallas Athena (96 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by drnick at 3:26 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


SQUEE

William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd-ish, 1564.

Scrolled halfway down just to read that delightful line
posted by iffthen at 3:27 PM on April 23, 2016


My favorite Shakespeare is dead factoid is that in his will (ha!) he left to his wife his second best bed.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:35 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


GOD DAMN IT 2016
posted by The otter lady at 3:37 PM on April 23, 2016 [78 favorites]


On the train back from the RSC Shakespeare Live event in Stratford-Upon-Avon. That was ... interesting. Never thought I'd see Ian McKellen reciting the Hand D addition to Sir Thomas More. Missed the fireworks, though.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:37 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


William Shakespeare, playwright and poet, is dead at 52 of causes unknown.

Damn thee, 1616! I command thee cease!
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:37 PM on April 23, 2016 [49 favorites]


I swear it will be Sir John Preston before the year is out, Faint of Butt. The world will not see the likes of Lord Fentonbarns again.
posted by davemee at 3:42 PM on April 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


If you like flowcharts click there. (Disclosure: I know the artist. Still worth a look.)

If you like time machines click there. (NYT link, well, sorta).
posted by nat at 3:43 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


First Prince, now this???!!!

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posted by Atreides at 3:43 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had no idea that he only lived to fifty-two. Amazing output for such a short career.
posted by octothorpe at 3:44 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Died of "a fever thus contracted" after a birthday drinking binge with Jonson and Drayton, apparently. If you can trust Restoration gossip. Which you generally shouldn't.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:48 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


1616 CAN JUST GO FUCK OFF RIGHT NOW!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:49 PM on April 23, 2016 [12 favorites]


Shakespeare, Cervantes, Orazio Borgianni...damn, a rough year for the arts.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:53 PM on April 23, 2016 [11 favorites]


But this rough magic
I here abjure, and when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.


.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:53 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


And now they're reporting from Spain that Miguel de Cervantes just died as well!
posted by dannyboybell at 3:53 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


An Elementary Penguin quoting shakespeare? Whatever next?
posted by marienbad at 3:55 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


And Francis Beaumont too. Rough year. Gonna be binge reading my quarto copy of The Knight of the Burning Pestle to get me through this.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:57 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


An Elementary Penguin quoting shakespeare? Whatever next?

You should have seen me kicking Edgar Allen Poe John Webster.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:00 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


ok but my buddy Philip the Fabulist down at the tavern told me that actually it was the Earl of Oxford who died instead, wake up sheeple
posted by Krom Tatman at 4:05 PM on April 23, 2016 [17 favorites]


An upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide, supposed he was as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you. He was an absolute Johannes factotum, and was in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.
posted by WCityMike at 4:22 PM on April 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


Nick Bottom must be thrilled.
posted by Talez at 4:29 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Walked past the Folger a dozen times this week and left town without going in. NOT HAPPY.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:31 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ok I'm supposed to feel bad? This bro didn't cast a single woman for any of his productions! Plus his sonnets were rude. Good riddance.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:38 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


I never really got into his stuff. Iambic pentameter and stabbings aren't really my "thing." But obviously he was very popular. For a period of time, it seemed like you couldn't walk past a park or repertory theater without seeing one of his works. But seeing all of these posts I'm wondering if I've been maybe missing out. Any recommendations for his more accessible works?
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:38 PM on April 23, 2016 [11 favorites]


I knew him, Horatio; a man of infinite jest, and by "infinite jest" I mean "never turned down a chance to make a dick joke."
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:39 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is this something I need a codex to understand?
posted by rhizome at 4:47 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is this something I need a codex to understand?

Nah. They're free on Kindle.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:50 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Say what you will about Shakespeare, but the King's Men are the best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited. Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:12 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


I had no idea that he only lived to fifty-two. Amazing output for such a short career.

BUT WAS IT ALL HIS!?!?!?!?!?!
posted by Lutoslawski at 5:23 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, some of it was John Fletcher (The Two Noble Kinsmen, Henry VIII) and some of it was George Wilkins (Pericles) but NONE of it was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, if that's what you're asking. (It wasn't Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe or Elizabeth I, either.)
posted by dannyboybell at 5:35 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Meh he was ok I guess, but he was no Richard Edes.
posted by humanfont at 5:42 PM on April 23, 2016


And Thomas Middleton on Timon of Athens. (Maybe the "bad folios" simply didn't get the revisions in before the edit window closed.)
posted by dannyboybell at 5:43 PM on April 23, 2016


Any recommendations for his more accessible works?

For reading/theater productions you can generally go with the more popular ones, I think. Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, MacBeth, etc. (Midsummer Night's Dream may be an exception here.) If you're reading dead trees I strongly recommend the Pelican versions, which have footnotes that are unobtrusive but convenient (not sure what's good digitally.)

For film adaptations, I'm fond of Baz Luhrmann's weird alt-universe Romeo + Juliet. Mel Gibson's manic Hamlet (which appears to be free on YouTube) I remember also being quite good, but it's been a while.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:45 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yo, Kanye, I'm really happy for you, I'ma let you finish, but Shakespeare was the best rapper of all time.
posted by adept256 at 5:49 PM on April 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


Actor Ben Crystal (and his Da) explain Original Pronunciation. (YouTube recommendations are your friend from there.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:07 PM on April 23, 2016


So I think I must have studied Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and Julius Caesar at school. We watched Twelfth Night as a live performance, as well as The Tempest and A Midsummer's Night Dream as some kind of animated version, and the Romeo + Juliet film that came out at the time. Naturally I was exposed to the famous bits of all the other plays too.

Please, for the love of god, stop teaching this shit to teens. None of us had the foggiest fuck what was going on unless we read the notes beforehand or the teacher explained it. The language might as well be Ancient bloody Egyptian for all we cared, and seemingly not available in translation. The close studying of the text needed to understand the words robbed the plays of any interest, and simply watching the plays being performed robbed us of any understanding. Away from the famous speeches and witty banter, plenty of the plays are just strings of crappy exchanges that struck us as inexplicable in meaning and purpose:

SCENE I. Verona. A public place.

Enter SAMPSON and GREGORY, of the house of Capulet, armed with swords and bucklers

Sampson Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals.
Gregory No, for then we should be colliers.
Sampson I mean, as we be in choler, we'll draw.
Gregory Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o' the collar.


What? Why would a twelve year old want to read this? What does is even mean? We had no idea what "colliers" were or what "choler" was. Every other line needed explaining, even when they contained words we seemingly knew: "the sweetest honey/Is loathsome in his own deliciousness/And in the taste confounds the appetite:". We couldn't wrap our heads around something like that without the teacher leading us through it. You're probably thinking that the meaning of those lines is obvious, but it really isn't to a group of kids who barely read at all outside school and never engaged in a difficult conversation. Shit, more than a few probably didn't even know what honey tasted like if it wasn't on Cheerios.

One of the main things I remember about Julius Caesar is that it begins with a naughty joke about codpieces. Our teacher had to explain was a codpiece was--hilarious in itself to us--then further explain that they didn't actually exist in Caesar's time, and then finally explain the joke. I remember that this whole exposition took quite a while and stands out as clearly as anything else in the play. Looking at the text right now, I don't get how the teacher thought there was a joke about codpieces, which suggests I had a really bad teacher or am still Shakespeare-dumb. But as somebody who absolutely enjoyed Tom Holland's Rubicon, I feel gutted that I had to wait fifteen years to find out what an interesting story it was. I mean, how could Shakespeare fuck up so bad?

At times like this when we're supposed to celebrate Shakespeare--or indeed at any time cause this shit is a cult now--I just feel cold. How come he's so central to English cultural life when I would rather watch Howard the Duck than sit through one of his plays? I don't talk about Shakespeare to anybody in my life. I don't read his plays, and I definitely don't go to see them. Nobody I know does this stuff. Nobody. Who are all these people that actually know the plays beyond the handful of quotable lines? Maybe they exist, but it ain't all fifty-five million of us. Yet we all have to grind through the blasted things at school, and then lip-serve him throughout our lives. It's like a national Stockholm Syndrome where a few incredibly traumatic years at school have left us all oddly attached to our abuser.

If between now and doomsday I never have to look at another photo of some badly-lit Shaxberd-loving tit gurning at a skull it will still be far too soon.
posted by Emma May Smith at 6:14 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


...with apologies for not joining the "god damn 1616" thread...

I think a big part of how I got into theater was because of a presentation on Shakespeare that happened at my grade school when I was only eight. A theater professor from the state university in our town came to give a presentation to the third-graders at my school; he talked a little bit about Shakespeare and about theater techniques in Tudor England - I remember especially he showed us a nifty piece of stage business that he said they used to have a fake "dog" onstage; he had a piece of fur that he draped over his arm, then worked his arm like it was a puppet of a little lapdog he was holding. We were all fascinated.

Then he closed with Marc Antony's big speech from JULIUS CAESAR. He told us a little bit about the plot - how Brutus had been one of the people who killed Casesar, and how everyone was mad about that now. "So can you all pretend to be Romans?" he asked us. "You can shout good and loud, before I start, because you're all angry about Brutus. Go ahead, and then I'll start." And because we were eight-year-olds being given license to shout, we got way into it, shouting "boo Brutus! Down with Brutus!" or whatever.

He let us go on for about ten seconds or so, and then in this big, booming voice, he shouted "FRIENDS! ROMANS! COUNTRYMEN! LEND ME YOUR EARS!"

I have never since seen fifty-odd third-graders go from loud and boisterous to dead silence that quickly. I listened as he recited the rest of the speech, occasionally gesturing at the robe which he had on the floor to stand in for Brutus; and I remember thinking that I didn't understand a word of what he was saying, but I didn't care, because I knew in my bones that it was really, really important.

...Shakespeare wove his way in and out of my life after that a few times; I saw a god-awful production of HAMLET starting Richard Thomas at Hartford Stage when I was sixteen (when Laertes ran onstage at one point in camouflage tights and carrying an Uzi, I decided the production didn't know what it was doing), I made a point of seeing Dustin Hoffman in Merchant of Venice on Broadway, and Much Ado About Nothing in the West End; I'd flown to London expressly to see the show, and had come almost directly off the plane to the theater (I mentioned that to David Tennant outside the stage door, when I was in the throng waiting for autographs, and he stopped signing my program for a microsecond to marvel at that, thank me and ask me how I was coping with jet lag). I just saw David Tennant again in that Richard II, as part of the "King and Country" repertory the RSC has now at Brooklyn Academy of Music, and when an actor friend offered me a spare ticket to the HENRY V performance a couple weeks later, I said sure. That actor friend is someone I had met through being a stage manager, and my life was set off on that particular path by that presentation back when I was eight.

...It's a path that has not always been kind to me, and at this point I've pretty much retired from theater. I know that I'd be doing a lot better off financially if I chose a different path. Sometimes I'm still bitter about that. But what I did get from it is nothing I'd trade in.

I went back to London a year after seeing MUCH ADO, and made a point of visiting the Globe Theater. I wanted to see more of the backstage, but there was a troupe rehearsing that day - when I went, there was a whole festival of various regional theaters from around the world who'd all come in to London to do various Shakespeare plays in their own native languages. We'd dropped in right when the troupe from Afghanistan was wrapping up their rehearsal for Comedy of Errors, so we could only walk around in the house a bit. The guide gave us all a basic Tudor-England-theater 101 talk, about stuff I'd already known, and then let us wander. I looked up at the richly painted proscenium and the Tudor Rose painted on it, thinking of the prologue from HENRY V - "can this cockpit hold the vasty fields of France? or may we cram within this wooden O the very casques that did affright the air at Agincourt?"

And I quietly whispered something to Shakespeare's ghost - "thanks for everything, you jerk." And smiled and walked out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 PM on April 23, 2016 [40 favorites]


P.S. - I started typing my comment several minutes ago, and didn't see Emma May Smith's comment until after I posted.

I am extremely pleased that Emma's comment about "why the hell do we bother teaching this to kids" now has my "a Shakespeare class when I was eight affected my life for the better" comment as a counterpoint.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:20 PM on April 23, 2016 [19 favorites]


Yeah, it's odd how we posted about the same time with completely different comments. I really fucking hated the way Shakespeare was taught (I've nothing against him personally, honest). I really, really wish he was taken off the curriculum because it's disastrous for those who actually might like Shakespeare when they grow up.
posted by Emma May Smith at 6:22 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Please, for the love of god, stop teaching this shit to teens.

My first Shakespeare performance was also the first time I saw a fully naked woman. In the balcony scene, Juliet came out naked. Quite an education.

I'm sorry your teacher sucked, you really missed out.
posted by adept256 at 6:24 PM on April 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


One of my High School English classrooms had a poster next to the door with this bit from MacBeth:
I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet,
And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.
Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
And damned be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”
That's just badass, even if you don't get what half of it refers to. It's like Julius' bit in Pulp Fiction. I memorized that pretty quickly and I think my love of Shakespeare started there, before I had really read anything of his.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:28 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


LEAR 4 EVER!
posted by clavdivs at 6:30 PM on April 23, 2016


LEAR LIFE

Someone has to have that as finger tats.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:32 PM on April 23, 2016


Shakespeare was magical and impenetrable as a sort of theatre kid, but the brilliance of the Henry plays, in college, and then the brilliance, even in the crappy stuff, of everything thereafter. Such a joyous, incandescent, amazing take on life, on being here the way we all are. That's human - at its best, seeing the best and the worst and mostly reveling.
posted by emmet at 6:38 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


My first Shakespeare performance was also the first time I saw a fully naked woman. In the balcony scene, Juliet came out naked. Quite an education.

The Shakespeare in the Park production of Two Gentlemen of Verona that I saw began with a number of men skinny-dipping, right out there in Central Park for God, the world, and the Upper West Side to see.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:41 PM on April 23, 2016


Unlike Elvis - Shakespeare isn't dead. I know because he was my high school English teacher, and also the drama/theater teacher of the same school.

He was easily identified by his weirdly long mullet-like hair and his devastatingly acid sarcasm and wit and a rather alarming 400 year stare. Seriously, he was known for making noisome tough guy bullies run out of his classroom bawling with alarmingly few words.

I called him out on it in private and he just quietly pointed out that no one would believe me.

He's probably still slumming around some community theater group somewhere.
posted by loquacious at 6:41 PM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


He's probably still slumming around some community theater group somewhere.


I like to think he was responsible for Trek in the Park
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:45 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
Thy gory metafilter at me.
posted by philip-random at 6:49 PM on April 23, 2016


alternately ...

All the world's a fuckmonster
And all the men and women merely players.
posted by philip-random at 6:51 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


wat
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:52 PM on April 23, 2016


You guys! That Romeo + Juliet! With Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes!

On second thought, not sure how Shakespeare would like it. Let's dig up his head and ask it.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:04 PM on April 23, 2016


That actor friend I alluded to is actually a huge Shakespeare nerd, to the point that he was interviewed for a regular Youtube series about Shakespeare. (I'm actually disappointed, upon reflection, that the show I stage managed for him was a kinda weird older American play about a magic scarecrow; he played the Devil, I think.)

About a week after I saw this, I saw a clip of David Tennant's rendition of the same speech - I sent it to him to ask what he thought. I think all he said was something like, "....interesting..."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry your teacher sucked, you really missed out.

Nah, the teachers didn't suck (well, I'm not sure), but the culture does. The teachers probably knew it was going over our heads, and that only a minority would ever get it. Indeed, they never even taught whole plays. They skipped whole acts (or two) because it was simply too much material. We might have only studied really a few scenes in detail, as just getting us to understand the running text was hard, never mind an appreciation of the language and poetry. They probably cringed as much as I did when the class did readings, as it was obvious that nobody really found the flow of the words but sounded like Shakespeare machine guns rattling off line after line of staccato syllables.

But "every child must read Shakespeare" is a cultural mantra there's no going against. He's the only writer mentioned in the national curriculum by name. I think the minimum schools are allowed to teach of his is three plays. We studied one play every year which meant weeks and weeks of lessons wasted. And worse, because we had to cover poems and novels in the same class, there was no time for any other plays. No modern plays, which we might have understood and connected with, were put before us. I recall a stack of Under Milk Wood sitting idly in the corner of a bookshelf. Nobody ever seemed to read them; certainly we didn't. It was Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare. And once you're disengaged from the Stratford Torture, it's hard to see the lessons as anything but another round of suffering.

The thing is though, those few people who actually like Shakespeare have much more positive stories to tell. Ain't it nice to hear how Shakespeare changed your life? For the 99% though, it's just a horrible memory made worse by having to pretend that it was actually something positive. I can take Shakespeare in small bites, and some of his poems are decent, but I have no wish to fully engage with his plays. I hold out no hope that the culture will change. Some years ago a well-known celebrity said Shakespeare was, "as dull as ditchwater", and she was crucified as a philistine for saying what we were all thinking.
posted by Emma May Smith at 7:19 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


dull as ditchwater

I tend to feel the same about Mozart.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:31 PM on April 23, 2016


too many notes
posted by beerperson at 7:33 PM on April 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


Nah, the teachers didn't suck (well, I'm not sure), but the culture does. The teachers probably knew it was going over our heads, and that only a minority would ever get it.

The teachers knowing it was going over your heads, and failing to do anything to counter that, is a sign that it was your teachers that sucked, and not the culture.

I've sat through similar bad-teaching moments with Shakespeare myself, where the teacher didn't really handle it well - or tried to go about "engaging the students" in the wrong way. My freshman English class in high school had a really inept substitute teacher once who tried to get a couple students to literally act out the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, complete with having the jock-bro type she'd picked for Romeo actually jump over her desk "because in the script it says Romeo jumps over a wall, so do it!" and the class revolted to the point that she literally ran out of the classroom crying after only ten minutes.

But then the assistant principal came in to find out what the fuck had happened, heard our side of things, and then after gently chiding us for our behavior, he took over; he ended up giving a very soft-spoken, but powerful defense of the relevance of Shakespeare in general, pointing out the parallels between Shakespearean plots and modern concerns; the pull between obeying your family and following your heart that you find in Romeo and Juliet, the danger of ambition that MacBeth warns you about, the rom-com plots in Taming of The Shrew and Much Ado about Nothing. And every one of us quieted down, and listened, and a lot of us got it.

Shakespeare gets taught badly, but that doesn't mean Shakespeare is culturally irrelevant.

And thus, I'm sorry you had bad teachers that focused on the words rather than trying to engage you a different way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:34 PM on April 23, 2016 [16 favorites]


Emma, full disclosure, I went to a rather exclusive private school with fantastic teachers. Regarding your point about missing out on more contemporary works; our study of Hamlet was accompanied with Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, and we watched Kurosawa's Throne of Blood in class while we were reading Macbeth.

The Scottish play! The Scottish play! Ah crap today's going to end worse than the Spiderman musical.
posted by adept256 at 7:40 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


only a minority would ever get it. Indeed, they never even taught whole plays.

How strange. Most teachers focus on the plays that are about young love, treachery, jealousy, insecurity and the other basic components of the human condition. As to skipping scenes, that happens in performances all the time. Even the plays themselves vary in content, including full scenes, between the folio and quarto versions.
posted by yerfatma at 7:49 PM on April 23, 2016


The Scottish play! The Scottish play! Ah crap today's going to end worse than the Spiderman musical.

That's only bad luck if you say the name in a theater.

....I actually DID slip up and do that once - I was chatting backstage with some actors during a rehearsal, and mentioned that we used to get some of our costumes on loan from the Public theater - and one time an actor noticed that the name "R. Julia" had been written on the tag of his shirt. "So what?" someone asked.

"So that means," I said, "that he was wearing the same shirt that Raul Julia wore in MACBETH." I'd just blurted it out, and then realized what i'd done - and as a couple people burst out laughing, I actually did the superstitious juju you're supposed to do (leave the theater, turn around three times, spit, and then knock on the door and wait for someone to let you back in.) Unfortunately the person who answered my knock was another actor who actually not only didn't know about the MACBETH superstition, he also didn't know about what I had just done, and so it took several seconds of me standing at the door asking "dude, just invite me in," and him ignoring me to ask "no, hang on, what the HELL did you just run outside for?" before another actor passing by poked him and said "dude, just say 'please come in', we'll explain later."

A college friend who went on to choreograph stage fights once was tapped for a MACBETH, and during a rehearsal, he suddenly realized a few things about the production:

* The stage set was decorated with a lot of abstract shards of reflective material - that looked like broken mirrors.
* The stage set also used these staircases on wheeled platforms that could be rolled about into different configurations, and at one point they were wheeled together to form an arch under which someone entered - which meant someone was walking under a ladder.
* It was MACBETH already.
* Their opening day just so happened to be Friday the 13th.

My friend said he pointed this all out to the director, who went pale and swore it was all totally accidental. He said he joked to the director that they should train a black cat to walk across the stage right before the show started. I actually went to see the show on opening night, just to see if the theater would completely blow up or something - but absolutely nothing went wrong, and I can only conclude that everything cancelled each other out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 PM on April 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


That's only bad luck if you say the name in a theater.

All the world's a stage.
posted by adept256 at 7:52 PM on April 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


I was fortunate to attend a very good public high school. The best of my teachers, by far, was my junior English teacher, Ms. Lori Weyner. She had passion for the subject and always managed to treat her students as engaged peers, not the ignorant teenagers that we actually were.

Senior year came; I was in AP History and AP French; everyone expected me to take AP English as well. I declined to take AP English in order to opt into Ms. Weyner's Shakespeare class. It is a decision I have never regretted.

We did Comedies in the fall and Tragedies in the spring (Romeo and Juliet had elements of both, and was our reading over winter break. She said the Histories would take another whole year.) At 44, I still have the Signet paperbacks of every play we read, marked-up and much-loved. I lent them to several friends in university so they could see the things we saw in the plays... the foreshadowing, the alliteration, the coinings of phrase. I only ever entrusted those paperbacks to people I knew would return them to me. After 27 years and many moves of house, I still have the "Give back the plays, Edward de Vere" button one my my classmates made for all of us. We went to see Christopher Plummer in a (frankly terrible) Broadway production of Macbeth, opposite Glenda Jackson as Lady MB (who was really good.)

I read a lot and I love to read. But I learned how to read, as an adult, critically, by studying Shakespeare in high school with an extraordinarily gifted and passionate teacher.
posted by workerant at 8:05 PM on April 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


Shakespeare: The original "Bacon Number 1".
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:25 PM on April 23, 2016


That's only bad luck if you say the name in a theater.

Those anecdotes would make for a first-rate po-mo toe-tap, along the lines of R and G are dead!
posted by Zerowensboring at 9:19 PM on April 23, 2016


Hey EmpressCallipygos, thanks for sharing those stories, fascinating stuff.

As far as Shakespeare and high school goes, our very old fashioned grade 12 English teacher(she spoke latin!) showed us an uncut version of Polanski's Macbeth, which has stuck with me these past 30 some years. So yeah, it was relevant to me then, when I was trying to figure out the world, and I still think of it when I see some politician's fall from grace for over reaching.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 9:22 PM on April 23, 2016


On second thought, not sure how Shakespeare would like it. Let's dig up his head and ask it.

"Uh, do whatever you want. I'm super dead."
posted by bakerina at 9:28 PM on April 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


I took my son, who's 11, to see the Seattle Shakespeare Company's Titus Andronicus. Fortunately, they handled the rape scenes with subtlety, and the violence with style. He loved the experience as he has loved Midsummer, Much Ado and the Merry Wives. It's never too early to expose anyone to the bard.
The Bard is dead, long live the Bard!
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:01 PM on April 23, 2016


Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

More of Australia's premier bard, Paul Kelly, on Shakespeare.
posted by Thella at 10:48 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


A line of Hamlets
posted by crossoverman at 10:50 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


We read Romeo and Juliet in 8th grade with a mediocre teacher and I didn't really see the appeal. Next we did Julius Caesar freshman year because it tied in with our history classes and again it did nothing for me. I don't blame my teacher in that case cause she was awesome (we had the Ides of March where we left paper bloody daggers all over the school). But it's not that great a play, IMO.

But once we got into Macbeth, Othello, and Hamlet I had fantastic teachers who spent a LOT of time on the plays and explaining them line by line, having us read them aloud, acting them out, watching films, and yes, also reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead during Hamlet. I don't feel like I was the only one who appreciated them or at least understood them. I think mostly everyone DID understand them because we had them explained.

But I don't know how to get someone to appreciate Shakespeare if they haven't had that kind of instruction on how the language works and what it means. My husband just "doesn't get it." I've tried having him watch various film productions and he just doesn't understand the language. He doesn't speak Shakespeare. So I've accepted that making him watch more of it isn't going to make him learn that language any more than making him watch French language films is going to teach him French with no prior knowledge.
posted by threeturtles at 10:53 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


An actor friend said to me "What do you think of Hamlet?" I said "It's a good read, but it seems that it's only ever produced and directed by actors who want to play the part before they're too old, and it's usually too late by then already." He said "Oh. Do you want to work on my production of Hamlet?"

Years earlier a director friend of mine was directing Romeo and Juliet. He had a guy writing some original music for it. The instrumentation was viola and cello. I played cello for the production. Someone asked me if I was in the production. I said "Yeah, I'm playing cello." They looked puzzled and said "Is that a... Capulet?"
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:58 PM on April 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


Speaking of Hamlet, while it does get interpreted and referenced constantly, some are more well-known that others. One of my favorites is the comic The Cowboy Wally Show, where the main character attempts to covertly film the play for the mob while in prison, placing cardboard costumes over the guards as unwilling participants.

There's also the hard-to-findMidwinter's Tale, a Kenneth Branagh-directed film staging the play in a church as a fundraiser. Includes the immortal line,
Hamlet is this desk. Hamlet is the air. Hamlet is my grandmother. Hamlet is everything you ever though about sex, about geology...
The most common Shakespearean reference in our house is from the Reduced Shakespeare Company's Complete Works of Shakespeare,. (Act I is almost everything, Act II is entirely Hamlet, told quickly, even more quickly, with audience participation, and backwards.) The subtext of "maybe, maybe not" from the audience-as-subconscious bit is tailor-made for describing cat behavior.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:15 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]




As a playwright, whose friends are all theatremakers or writers or prodigious readers at the very least, I don't know what to do with the idea that because Shakespeare doesn't appeal to everyone, we should take him out of the curriculum. Equally, I wish he wasn't the only playwright taught in high school; I studied Chekhov's Uncle Vanya in high school literature and (even though it was translated to modern English), I found that play far harder to grapple with than Macbeth or Romeo & Juliet.

Perhaps if high school students studied other playwrights, they wouldn't be so shy about trying out theatre. I think the gateway drug for theatre these days are big budget musicals and straight plays are considered the poor cousin to that spectacle. If people are put off theatre by having to learn Shakespeare in high school, they probably aren't going to try plays - unless they have a vested interest in being a writer or an actor, etc.

I think a lot of kids feel tortured by whatever they have to study in high school English classes, though. Shakespeare might seem hard, but other books - even books you might enjoy - can have the life sucked out of them if the teacher isn't doing a good job or if you're analysing them from an angle you don't quite get or agree with. I remember one teacher being challenged by bro-dudes in the class about how she knows what "Shakespeare meant" by certain terms or whether he really intended all the symbolism she described. She didn't handle that well and even though I was engaged by these ideas, it's easy to lose kids when your teacher is adamant that it means what she says it means.

On the other hand, even if we don't teach other playwrights, I feel like learning Shakespeare is a skill that is sort of transferable in a way. Apart from learning about a cultural history that is still mined today in music and film and television, we use phrases that Shakespeare invented to this very day, but also wrapping your mind around his language helps us to decipher other things. We learn to break his language down to translate it in our own minds and that teaches us to break down all kinds of concepts to their building blocks to get our heads around it.

I also think in this day and age, stage adaptations of his work are so rich and alive - and so often not bound by a slavish adherence to the text, that it's less "dull" seeing Shakespeare on stage. That might be just the playwright in me being so excited to see how versatile his texts our and how inventive theatremakers can be, but I can't imagine school children are seeing three hour versions of Romeo & Juliet anymore. In fact, I know the touring production of R&J by Bell Shakespeare in Australia is a tight ninety minutes. You can hit all the beats in that story in 90 minutes and kids aren't going to get restless in that if they have already studied the play. (Also, with films like Baz's Romeo & Juliet or the latest version of Macbeth, it also feels less like it belongs in a museum and more like vital pieces of filmmaking and storytelling.)

I've seen a lot of Hamlets and Romeos & Juliets. I've seen a few Henry Vs and a Richard III or two. I don't know all his plays. As much as I feel like I have unlocked his language enough to "get it", I don't know how much I would understand if I saw a production of a play of his I know nothing about. I'm going to see an all-female Corialanus in a few weeks. I know next-to-nothing about that play. I'm excited to see what I can understand and get out of it. I love a challenge.
posted by crossoverman at 2:24 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've directed Hamlet (twice - one is playing right now), Comedy of Errors (twice), Macbeth, The Tempest, Othello (favorite), A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pericles, Henry IV.1, Troilus and Cressida, Alls Well That Ends Well, Winter's Tale, Measure for Measure and Much Ado About Nothing. I've seen all of the plays and only genuinely despise two (Merchant of Venice and Taming of the Shrew). I've also read them all - in fact, I've read multiple versions of most. I've directed from the First Folio, I've learned from an RSC alumni, and I've performed in improvised Shakespeare and Reduced Shakespeare. I've worked with professionals, amateurs and students on different productions.

I didn't intend to go down this path but something about grappling with his work has taught me do much about the human condition and poetry and impacting an audience. Every time I work on one of his plays I walk away thinking "now I get it" and every time I end up being surprised by all that I missed when I return to the play again (I will have a dialogue with Hamlet for my entire life it seems).

Shakespeare has been an enormous part of my life. I owe this to a seventh grade teacher who had us discover how to play a heavily edited version of Taming of the Shrew more or less on our own. She gave us the script, assigned us roles, showed us an hilarious video of a production and then let us play around. There was no expectation of performance. Instead of explaining every word to us, she talked about what our characters wanted and what was happening in the scenes. She praised us for tackling this and I think we all left thinking Shakespeare was fun and not nearly the mystery he was made out to be. This, I've not only been very comfortable with his plays since then, I always looked forward to them when we were going to read one after that.

Now when I teach Shakespeare, I know how to do it in a way that focuses on making the plays and language alive and fun just like my teacher did. I've had some lousy teachers trying to teach Shakespeare over the years but that middle school teacher was so good that I've spent years of my life wrestling with his plays.

I am so sad that so many students have his plays ruined for them by language arts teachers who just don't know how to teach them.

On the other hand, I'm so grateful that my teacher opened up a door to the next 35 years of my life.

And I'm grateful to Will for all the plays and deeply sorry for the thousands and thousands of lines I've cut.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:53 AM on April 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


Ain't it nice to hear how Shakespeare changed your life? For the 99% though, it's just a horrible memory made worse by having to pretend that it was actually something positive. I can take Shakespeare in small bites, and some of his poems are decent, but I have no wish to fully engage with his plays. I hold out no hope that the culture will change.

This is how I feel about every school mandated sport, and yet just about every school I've attended has had major support for its sport teams, to the extentent of de-funding many other programs. I resent football the way you resent Shakespeare. It confuses me, and uses time and resources that I think would be better spent on other things.

My first exposure to Shakespeare was a Classics Illustrated comic of Midsummer Night's Dream that my parents had lurking in a big stack of CI. It was utterly confusing to me. I couldn't read yet, being 4, and I remember trying to puzzle out from the pictures what exactly was happening. Puck squeezing flower petals into someone's eyes was so charming and bewildering that it strongly motivated me to learn to read. I just had to know what was going on!

So I learned to read. And sometimes, throughout the ensuing years, I read Shakespeare. The study of Shakespeare stretched my mind and vocabulary. It made other literature studies easier, because I'd developed a facility for closely examining text without losing the feel of it. And while I never became a dramatist, I did enjoy my Shakespeare-inspired time in theater. I know that the Tempest, in particular, taught me a lot about how to live in the world. Caliban's got a couple of speeches that make me weep every time, and that are so timely still. Prospero's words helped me adapt to having a chronic illness.

I will never have those feelings about sports. But I understand that other people do, and despite the many wasted hours I spend as a youth being forced to participate in team activities, and the physical injuries I received trying to do something I am clearly not cut out to do, I don't think sports should be cut from the curriculum. Like Sports, however, Shakespeare would probably be easier to understand if one started with a better teacher and coach. And I wondered if the mass appeal would be wider if literature and theater programs had the same sort of enthusiastic funding that athletics do.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 3:44 AM on April 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


I love your comment. But to me in the venn diagram of athletic and academic skills there's no overlap. I'm still mystified how it's just accepted that being good at sport can get you into university, and stadiums are given the same (or more) priority as laboratories.

I think the better parallel is calculus, which is in an odd language, but once you understand it's an enriching revelation. Yes, most people won't use calculus in daily life. There's still value in learning it. Sports, however, seem to have a culture of anti-intellectualism and definitely belongs in the extra-curricular category.
posted by adept256 at 4:06 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


My favorite Shakespeare is dead factoid apparently isn't true.
In many sources, it was recorded that Cervantes died on the same date.
Wikipedia tells me that's not true, but that he died on the 22nd.

The interesting part of that is that 'the same date' was in fact different days.
posted by MtDewd at 5:02 AM on April 24, 2016


Re: Shakespeare in school maybe there's a UK vs. US thing? Unless I'm misplacing where everybody is from. I mean he's pretty much mandatory here (the U.S.) too but it's less a matter of national pride? It didn't change my life but I enjoyed Shakespeare in school. gotta pick the fun/thematically accessible plays though. And watch them, not just read them.
posted by atoxyl at 5:22 AM on April 24, 2016


Nope, USian here. Shakespeare just felt like a Big Deal.

I'm noticing that people who say their teachers bungled Shakespeare are also tending to say that they got bogged down in translating individual words - Emma's discussion of a teacher taking a long time to explain codpieces and getting caught up on the puns on coliers, for one example - and the teachers that did well focused on the plots. Plays are things that are meant to be performed, and that means they should have big attention-getting plots. Things are supposed to be happening.

And that's why you can take Romeo and Juliet, chuck the dialogue, set it in Hells' Kitchen in the 1950s, name Romeo "Tony" and name Juliet "Maria", and you get West Side Story. Or you can chuck the dialogue to Taming Of The Shrew, airlift the plot to late-90s Seattle, stick Heath Ledger into Pertruchio's role and Kirsten Dunst into Kate's and you get Ten Things I Hate About You. Or make Othello a story about a high school basketball player nicknamed "O" who's in an interracial romance which his best friend "Hugo" tries to break up out of jealousy that O got the athletic scholarship. There are actually a handful of other teen films based on Shakespeare's works to varying degrees, and still more adaptations for general audiences, all with varying degrees of faithfulness to the plot.

And you can do that because - we may not wear codpieces any more, but we all have moments of jealousy, and ambition, and family drama, and we all have seen leaders rule with varying amounts of hubris, and a lot of us have sometimes felt like avoiding our responsibilities and hiding out with our drinking buddies, and we've all had existential moments where we wonder what the hell the point of life is, and we all have had a pair of friends that were 'just friends," but spend so much time verbally sparring that everyone around them thinks "oh my GOD you two, just FUCK already because you know you want to"...

The teachers who point THAT all out, those are the ones that get it, and they have the students that get it too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:41 AM on April 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


(Sorry to keep coming back here - this is apparently something about which I have more passion and thought than I'd anticipated.)

In defense of the people who don't like him, though...okay, fair, not everyone has to like everything. Whether everyone should like Shakespeare's works is different from whether everyone should at least be introduced to his cultural relevance; I agree with crosoverman that a lot of other playwrights' work should be introduced in schools, including non-Western-canon works, but even if you're taught something by the best teacher, and even if you understand it inside and out....you can still just plain not like it.

I mean, even Shakespeare had some "meh" scripts. That Henry VIII I saw in Central Park was one - nothing much really happens. And I was uneasy about my reaction to that Richard II, because similarly...it doesn't feel like anything really happens. The play actually has a lot to say about Richard II, who's somewhat sympathetically presented as a guy who'd been told he had absolute authority and power since he was just a kid and that ultimately really fucked him up; but it's still a lot of people standing around and talking about stuff, and no one really doing much. All the fight scenes happen offstage and are reported upon by messengers. All the deaths also happen offstage. When I saw it, the biggest audience reaction was when David Tennant - who played Richard as a sort of spoiled androgynous aesthete - suddenly locked lips with the Duke of Aumerle (who was Richard's cousin) out of nowhere. There was this ripple of shock from the audience as a whole lot of Brooklynites suddenly thought "whoa, THIS probably wasn't in the first folio." In the link to the Richard II video up top, you can watch the business after that, too - a lovely little wordless bit where Richard is toying around with the crown, at one point playfully putting it on Aumerle's head, before sadly putting it back on, assuming the mantle of power that he's come to realize is too much of a responsibility for him any more - but it's all he knows how to be at that point. It's wordless, but it's action, and it hammers things home.

The rest of the play, though, is a lot of people standing around being talky, and I realized as I left that I was more into David Tennant's performance than I was the play itself; I chalked that up to the play just not being one of Shakespeare's best works.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


My favorite Shakespeare is dead factoid apparently isn't true.
In many sources, it was recorded that Cervantes died on the same date.
Wikipedia tells me that's not true, but that he died on the 22nd.

The interesting part of that is that 'the same date' was in fact different days.


This also has to do with the Julian vs Gregorian calendars
posted by iotic at 6:19 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is so bloody wonderful that I'm really disappointed that it's going to be buried so deeply into this thread, but:

An actor corrects another on how best to portray royalty considering suicide. Progressively, greater and greater experts begin weighing in, culminating in the greatest expert of all ... for a cast list and their respective positions, ROT13 this:

Gb or be abg gb or gung VF gur dhrfgvba = Cnncn Rffvrqh
Gb or BE abg gb or gung vf gur dhrfgvba = Gvz Zvapuva
Gb or be ABG gb or gung vf gur dhrfgvba = Orarqvpg Phzoreongpu
Gb or be abg gb OR gung vf gur dhrfgvba = Uneevrg Jnygre
Gb or be abg gb or GUNG vf gur dhrfgvba = Qnivq Graanag
Gb or be abg gb or gung VF gur dhrfgvba = Ebel Xvaarne
Gb or be abg gb or gung vf GUR dhrfgvba = Vna ZpXryyra
Gb or be abg GB or gung vf gur dhrfgvba = Whqv Qrafpu
Gb or be abg gb or gung vf gur DHRFGVBA = Cevapr Puneyrf
posted by WCityMike at 7:13 AM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that was the "line of Hamlets" link above. Still fabulous, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on April 24, 2016


Though he wer'nt of the band of brothers he knew them.
My heart first sang then was still.
Stand on my marker.
Say my name.
posted by mule98J at 8:40 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


My favorite Shakespeare is dead factoid is that in his will (ha!) he left to his wife his second best bed.

Anne Hathaway

"Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed."
(from Shakespeare's will)

The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas
where he would dive for pearls. My lover's words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses on these lips;
my body now a softer rhyme to his, now echo, now assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights, I dreamed he'd written me, the bed
a page beneath his writer's hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love -
I hold him in the casket of my widow's head
as he held me upon that next best bed.

Carol Ann Duffy
posted by smugly rowan at 8:51 AM on April 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


Hipsters, flipsters, and finger-poppin' daddies, knock me your lobes.
I came to lay Caesar out, not to hip you to him.
The bad jazz a man blows wails long after he's cut out.
The groovy is often stashed with their frames. So don't put Caesar down.
posted by kenko at 9:00 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Richard the Third in a Fourth of a Second:

The Essential Shakespeare, Volume I
Rapid-retrieval editions in rhymed hemimeter

ACT I

Clop.

Clop-
clop.

But
look
what
Hop-
toad
did.

Wid-
ow’d,

ACT II

woo’d,

took

this
lewd
and
stin-
king
thing
this
En-
gland.

ACT III

Clop-
pit-
y
clop
he
swap
it
fer
some
horse.

ACT IV

Flum-
mer-
y
of
course.

Cov-
er
stor-
y
for
the
hoi-
po-
lloi.

ACT V

Good;

we
would-
n’t
want
the
slu-
bbered
herd

ACT VI

thin-
king
which
nerd
murd-
ered
Rich-
ard
Third.

– George Starbuck
posted by kenko at 9:01 AM on April 24, 2016


Yeah, it's odd how we posted about the same time with completely different comments. I really fucking hated the way Shakespeare was taught (I've nothing against him personally, honest). I really, really wish he was taken off the curriculum because it's disastrous for those who actually might like Shakespeare when they grow up.

I've been thinking about what a great job the high school literature curriculum does of wrecking people's potential love of literature and reading. Mathematicians hate the way math is taught; historians hate the way history is taught; lit lovers like me hate the way literature is taught. It's taught as if there are certain works you have to have read, whether you like them or can understand them, rather than being taught in such a way as to nurture enthusiasm—which probably would mean not foisting Shakespeare and The Great Gatsby on most teenagers.

That said, I had a wonderful Shakespeare teacher in high school. Shakespeare was an elective, so there was some element of self-selection. Our teacher did a wonderful job of giving us the background without undermining the fun of the plays. I grew up a mere three hours from Stratford, Ontario, home of an excellent Shakespeare festival, and every year there would be a field trip. We'd get on a bus at 6 a.m., have lunch in Stratford, see a matinee, have dinner in Stratford, see an evening performance, and then pile exhaustedly back onto the bus for the drive home. There was a small group of enthusiasts for whom these outings were magical, myself included.
posted by not that girl at 9:04 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can't really understand arguments against teaching things in school that teenagers won't get. Even accepting the assumption that teenagers can't get Shakespeare, which others have said much against, there's something about setting students up in the future.

That's why we teach (or should be in some cases) sexual education to students before they hit puberty, and before they become sexually active.

I didn't understand what The Great Gatsby was about in school when I was assigned it, but I'm glad that it had been introduced to me because once fine literature finally clicked with me at university (thanks to a very dear professor), I was aware of its existence and was able to return to it (and everything else, for that matter) more properly.
posted by Dalby at 9:40 AM on April 24, 2016


Shakespeare at school was definitely pretty incomprehensible to this teenage boy, but at least it wasn't Jane Bloody Austen, who was the other author we were required to study. At least in Shakespeare's plays things occasionally happened...
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 11:27 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hamlet in 4 minutes

(The guy mostly does Game of Thrones vids that are also worth a look.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:39 AM on April 24, 2016


I didn't understand what The Great Gatsby was about in school when I was assigned it, but I'm glad that it had been introduced to me because once fine literature finally clicked with me at university (thanks to a very dear professor), I was aware of its existence and was able to return to it (and everything else, for that matter) more properly.

I think you're suggesting that, if you hadn't read Gatsby in high school, you would likely never have found out that it exists and what it's about. Not by the professor's recommendation, nor from a literary history, nor browsing the library.

Seems a dubious assumption.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:41 PM on April 24, 2016


Nope, USian here. Shakespeare just felt like a Big Deal.

I meant that you are and I am but Emma is not. But it's not a very well-developed hypothesis.
posted by atoxyl at 5:55 PM on April 24, 2016


I agree with this idea that teaching so much Shakespeare to every kid is probably counter-productive if the goal is to set them up for a lifetime of appreciating literature and culture. I do think it has the opposite effect of making kids feel like this culture stuff is just tedious and empty.There are a lot of writers that don't get taught in high school because they require a lot of dedication to really get. I don't understand why Shakespeare isn't in that club more.
posted by bleep at 6:59 PM on April 24, 2016




This also has to do with the Julian vs Gregorian calendars
Yes, this is why the NYT piece can say 'On this date — April 23, 1616 ...' and be correct, even though the 400th anniversary of his death isn't until May 3rd.
posted by MtDewd at 7:55 AM on April 25, 2016


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