Friday, December 16, 2011

Slowing Down

It's not all been speed reading at this address in recent days, though I may have given impressions to the contrary of late.

For example, I've been lingering over Seamus Heaney's The Haw Lantern in a most rewarding fashion, though I did read the poems in the 'correct' order. In this case I would read a single poem several times before moving on, but once I'd moved forward there was no looking back. Thus I got the benefit of being able to muse over the placing of the pieces in a larger whole (possibly illusory, of course - a bit like the sequencing of an album) whilst never feeing that I was unduly rushing through.

Also I took my time over a reading of As You Like It, using two editions at the same time, these being the last two Ardens - the second and third series. There's some good material around the business attending upon gender in the most recent edition and I found that refreshing. I doubt that I would have taken it terribly seriously thirty years ago, but times, and readers, change. I'd love to see an all male cast version of the play: a boy playing a girl pretending to be a man pretending to be a girl. And what viewer does not fall in love with fair Rosaline?

As a way of getting going on the Shakespeare I reread James Shapiro's 1599 - he has much to say about As You Like It and Hamlet, among others, since he reckons this was the year of composition for both. What he says is stimulating, though I wouldn't necessarily take it as gospel. These are texts I'm teaching next year, by the way, so I feel I'm being quite the good boy for working so hard, when I'm not really working at all, of course.

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