A Selective Reading of The Tempest

Image result for the tempest

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