A Selective Reading of The Tempest

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I give The Tempest 8 out of 10 magic brushstrokes. This play was shockingly readable for a Shakespearian comedy which sets out to fool the audience from the get-go. It was interesting to read AND I understood everything that was going on, so that’s 2/2 on my Shakespeare scale.

Question: who would win in a fight, Prospero and his magic cloak, Harry and his invisibility cloak, or Joseph and his amazing technicoloured dreamcoat? FIGHT OF THE CLOAKS!

A: This is a great idea for a new broadway musical.

ANYWAYS.

I read Peter Holland‘s introduction to The Tempest in my titanic edition of The Complete Pelican Shakespeare. At the time of writing the intro, Holland was the Director of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham, so I guess this guy has some credibility. I should have waited until after I read the text to read Holland’s piece because as it stands I did not understand much of it (as I had no context for it) and remember very little of it. Hang on, I’m going to go scan it again…*scanning*…okay, to recap his article: colonialism, nationalism, performance, ambivalence, and time scale. My recap game is strong.

I can definitely see why the initial exchange between Prospero and Caliban in Act 1, Scene 2 is pilfered by po-co scholars for material. It’s awful and perfect! Especially English language po-co scholars: “You taught me language, and my profit on’t/ Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you/ For learning me your language!” (1:2:54). Right?! Full disclosure: I am choosing to privilege the ‘po-co/slavery is bad’ reading and ignore the fact that Prospero says he only enslaved Caliban after buddy tried to rape his daughter: “I have used thee/ Filth as thou art, with human care, and lodged thee/ In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate the honour of my child” (1:2:53). To which Caliban basically replies “But, babies!” I have to be honest, if I pay too much attention to that little detail, I start becoming WAY more sympathetic to Prospero than I want to be. Because Prospero is a selfish ass-hat and a terrible human being. It’s easier to just ignore details that don’t adhere to my overall sensibilities and preferred reading. I can do that here, because this is my blog, not an academic paper. SO THERE!

One thing I did not understand is how the play ends with Alonso, King of Naples, saying to Prospero: “I long/ to hear the story of your life, which must/ Take the ear strangely” (5:1:117). ERMMMMMM You know the story of his life. You banished him, remember? That was you and his brother, Antonio. You guys did that, together, as a team. Or do you just screw over so many people out of their dukedoms that you can’t remember this one who you put on a boat (with no sails) and set it out to sea (for him to die)? Look at buddy over here, making like this is the first time they’ve met, and Prospero is just going for it, letting it happen. I feel like there’s a murder in their future, for sure.

I digress.

Pro tip: do not watch The Little Mermaid before reading this play. If you do, you will have to constantly remind yourself that Ariel is a male nymph, not a red-headed mermaid who wants to be where the people are.

That’s all for now, I have to get back to research.

Grad research procrastination

Image Sources:
The Tempest: JY Productions, http://www.jyproductions.com/theatre-the-tempest.php
Homework vs Fly: College Xpress, http://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/grad-school/articles/life-grad-student/20-steps-graduate-researchtold-cartoons/

 

 

 

Brad Pitt messes with my creativity

I saw the film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire way back when and fell in love with it. Since, it’s always been one of my favourite movies, and Brad Pitt stole my heart.

Image result for interview with the vampireTom Cruise freaked me out a bit – oh, how little I knew then how he would grow to freak me out even more…and Kirsten Dunst performed perhaps her best on-screen role of her entire career. I might be biased. But she was so good!

Image result for interview with the vampire claudia

The result is that, now, some thirteen-ish years later, I finally have read Anne Rice’s book, which inspired it all. Louis’ voice, in my mind, was exactly that slow, smooth, detached drawl that Pitt uses in the film, and that was wonderful. It was like having Brad Pitt in my brain for a few days, reading me a story about vampires and the human condition.

Point being: I wasn’t able to separate my film viewing experience from my book reading experience. Do you remember my post about Troilus and CressidaWhy do you do this to me, Brad? Let my imagination go, and run free! Are you so possessive that once you’ve inhabited a character in my mind, nobody else can? Damn you!

It’s interesting that in the film *spoilers* Lestat does not return until the very end, and he’s the one who seeks out the reporter. In the book, Lestat reappears at the Theatre des vampires. He’s the one that gives them up, rather than Santiago figuring it out on his own. The novel also ends with the reporter heading out to find Lestat, rather than the latter dropping out of the sky into his red convertible as he’s driving at highway speeds.

Also, Armand and Louis run off together in the text, whereas in the film Louis goes on the road solo after Kirsten’s death (I think I’m remembering that right – can someone corroborate this?).

Lastly, the film puts a lot of emphasis on Louis’ refusal/grappling with feeding off humans. At one point, Lestat finds him after he’s spent weeks in the gutter, feeding solely on rats and vermin because Louis can’t stand the guilt from taking human lives. Once he learns that he can live off animal blood he’s like “WELP. It’s an animal-based diet for me from now on!” but this doesn’t happen in the book at all. His foray into animal-based eating is brief, and he quickly returns to feeding off of humans. He doesn’t enjoy it, he complains about it a lot, but he does it.

All told, the book was pretty good. Brad Pitt Louis is a fairly self-indulgent and philosophical narrator who muses and moans more than he tells a story. But the story he does tell is pretty good. Surprisingly, the first book does not make me want to read Prince Lestat, the second installment in Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series. I know they are canonical to the vampire genre, which I do love, but at this point, I simply have too many other books tempting me, of whose quality I am more certain.

Speaking of which, I finished The Tempest last night, so there’s a blog coming for that. Stay tuned! For now I’m off to mark and write papers.

Image Sources
Claudia (Kirsten): Media Giphy
Lestat (Tom) and Louis (Brad): The Clinton Street Theatre

Okay, Tempest, You’re Up.

A surprising number of the texts I’ve read in my MA have made allusions and references to The Tempest. An exhausting, relentless number of them. It’s been ridiculous, folks.

Having not read The Tempest yet (despite having read METRIC TONS of Shakespeare) this was frustrating for me. Very frustrating. I get it, everyone loves The Tempest.

So now that I’m done my course reading, have some breathing room between papers, and have finished a quick fun read (Interview with the Vampire), I’m listening to the universe and am reading this freakin’ play.

Bring on the storms, boats, islands and magic, Shakespeare!

tempest.jpg

Dear March Madness: I win!

Image result for i win gif

March Madness,
YOU HAVE BEEN DEFEATED!

I had a collection of images selected for this post, but I edited it down because I feel that the one below captures the true essence of how I feel right now: proud and sweaty.

Image result for victory dance gif tumblr

March Madness is OVER as of tomorrow when I hand in the last assignment I have due this month! Seminars? Check. Proposals? Done. Papers? Written. Books? Read ’em all! Micro-Teaching Session? Nailed it. Mini-Lecture? Delivered. Guest Lecture? Slayed. Essay Marking? Well…I’m still working on that one…but it’s started! The rest of my marking is done so I’m calling it a win!

Only two more final papers to write and I will be finished all of my coursework for my English MA. Bananas.

Why Moby Dick is a Classic – from someone more qualified and on a roller coaster

Back when I was reading Moby Dick, I attempted to answer why I thought this novel is considered a classic. I did this mostly in response to the question’s popularity; whilst reading the book, most interactions I had with onlookers went something like this:

Person: Oh, I see you’re reading Moby Dick.
Me: Sure am (*inside voice* and I’m totally understanding it too, not overwhelmed at all)
Person: That’s cool…cool, cool, cool…So. let me ask you something, why do you think it’s a classic?
Me: Well…
Me: You see…
Me: It’s a classic because…
Me:  Image result for bullshit bullshit bullshit sarah marshall

And now, Fine Readers, I am pleased to present you with a much more defensible response to the question, brought to you by Stephen Colbert and Andrew Delbanco, a Melville author and scholar, on a roller coaster:

Go forth and impress people at parties with your new found knowledge!

gif source: https://media.tenor.co/images/d5229344a3a5da8306ecbd42d26bf414/raw

March Madness is real, it just has nothing to do with football.

UPDATE: My husband informs me that March Madness has nothing to do with football, ever. Apparently, it’s a basketball thing. So, shows what I know. Sports, Go Sports!

It’s been a busy month since I last posted…11 1/2 books busy, and I’m behind in my reading. Add to that two weeks of almost zero progress because I was sick, which is just coming to an end now (thank god) and you can see why I’ve been absent (I hope, please don’t leave me, I love you all)

Here’s what I’ve read since we last spoke a month ago:

Sadly, none of the above are on The List. Happily, many of them were awesome. Highlights in this batch included Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid, who is a treasure, and Olive by Dinah Craik, which I had never heard of before but which was surprisingly easy and quick to read for a 19c novel. A little too pious for my personal predilections, but if you read past the “God will save you” and “The only thing standing in the way of our love and happiness is your lack of faith – Convert! Repent! Then all will right with the world” narrative, then I think you’ll enjoy it.

So that was a pretty busy kick, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it’s ramping up.

March Madness is going to be a real thing in my house this year, but for grad student reasons, not football reasons. Because I don’t watch football. I’m talking about book things.

March Madness = two seminars, two proposals, three papers, five books, one micro-teaching session, one mini-lecture, one guest lecture, and essay marking.

It’s okay, I’m not scared. Let’s do this, Lemon.

Image result for i got this gif

source: https://naiomiblogs.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/resolutions.gif?w=676

 

 

Perspective

Thank you,
For the perspective
of what it feels like
to have an entire country vote

to hate
discriminate
subjugate

To rally behind vitriol
RT your hate speech

I thought I knew
sexism
fear

I thought I understood
discrimination

I thought I had experienced it
and could empathize.

Thank you
For the perspective
the correction.
For showing me how wrong I was.

I had not yet
had a whole country
chant that I am unwanted
I did not know

that I am less than my beauty
that I am not enough
that I am crooked
That I am not trustworthy
because I bleed.

Too bad Bernie
didn’t run.
He would’ve won.
A man with a plan,
that’s what was needed.

Not a (wo)man who (over)prepared
Wanted it too much
We’re always so desperate.
It’s pathetic, right?

right?

She smiled too much
or not enough?
She was too cold,
corrupt,

But pay no attention to the migrant workers
immigrants
accountants
behind your iron curtain

Pay no attention to the lies
they are #alternativefacts
Disregard my doublespeak
It’s doubleplusgood

Take it in stride
Take it as blind
as real
as truth
as locker-room talk.

I am not a politician,
I can feel hate
and make mistakes
and contradictions
like you

that’s why they voted for you,
you’re their man.

I’m scared; I’m brave

They Said

Fear is for the weak,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Women are too emotional,
Don’t cry,
They said.

Fear is the mind killer,
It leads to hate,
They said.

Take a different path home
Each way,
Each day,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Smile more,
You seem cold, unfeeling
Women are too emotional,
They said.

Check your drink,
Be safe,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Sticks and stones,
Words can’t hurt you.
Don’t cry,
They said.

It’s your body,
Keep your legs closed,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

It will never happen,
Don’t worry,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

It will be fine,
You’re reading too much into it,
Don’t cry,
They said.

It’s not happening here,
You’re safe here,
Don’t be scared.
They said.

I am scared;
I am brave.
I cry;
I am strong.

She said.

She says.

She will say.

 

Emma: I bite my thumb at you

threepanelbookreview:
“EMMA by Jane Austen.
”

Another intersection between List and MA, can it be? YES IT CAN! I’ve recently finished reading Emma for one of my classes this term. This is my second foray into Austen, and, if I’m being honest, Northanger Abbey was better.

Perhaps that’s only because it was shorter, though…there are a lot of parallels between the two novels — NA could almost be considered Emma junior. In both novels, a young woman is woefully unable to correctly read those around her, and hilarity ensues. Everyone gets married, the end.

In Emma, however, the main title character is awful. I spent a good deal of the first half of the book yelling obscenities at her, and throwing the book against the wall. Okay, I didn’t literally throw the book against the wall (what kind of a monster do you think I am?), but there was fair amount of eye-rolling happening on my part. As the kids say, I was throwing some serious shade.

Emma’s saving grace in the novel is that Austen saw fit to write in a character we would hate more than her heroine – Mr. Frank Freakin’ Churchill. What a useless piece of human flesh he is. Current theory: Frank’s function in the plot is to highlight the ridiculous impotence and lack of agency women have in their lives – by feminizing Frank and placing him in the predicament of many middle-class women of the period, Austen highlights the ridiculousness of the position. She is saying: “See – if this is a man, suddenly it’s not okay, but this is what you are doing to your daughters. Check your double-standards, people!”

Maybe – that’s one theory. The other theory is that she wanted to a have a foil for Mr. Knightley. This theory is just as credible.

Favourite Moment: That time when she was directly responsible for her BFF’s heartbreak TWICE and then when her friend FINALLY moves on, Emma goes “hmmm actually…Imma marry him…can you not come around here anymore? K, thanks, BYEEEEE”

Other observations:

  • Having a carriage was a big deal – but you had to have a carriage at the right time. A carriage too early was an invitation for public scrutiny. Check your carriage before you wreck your carriage.
  • Gypsies will rob you if you’re nice to them.
  • Doctor wars are intense. Pick your side and don’t back down!
  • Bath was the Las Vegas of 19c middle-class England.
  • Never trust your brand new friend if they tell you someone is in love with you – they are wrong and it will ruin your life.
  • If a lover sends you a surprise anonymous piano, he’s probably not good enough for you.
  • If a lover wants to keep your engagement secret, he’s definitely not good enough for you.
  • Always make sure you have enough apples.

QUESTION: In a contest between Mrs. Elton, Miss Bates, and Anne of Green Gables – who speaks for the longest without pause?

Austen comic source: http://once4511.tumblr.com/