Saturday, May 21, 2016
How to study Shakespeare and survive
Richard Armour. Twisted Tales From Shakespeare (1957) A re-read. The introductions are nicely done parody of what the student reads in school editions of Shakespeare’s plays. Then Armour dissects the six school classics: Hamlet, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello. The jokes are gentle, Armour likes puns, and he clearly has vivid memories of studying the plays, which inform his not-quite-fractured versions of the stories. Anybody who knows the plays will find amusement, those who don’t could do worse to read this book as a first intro to the canon. The best thing is Armour’s satire on the authorship question: It is a contemptible attack on higher education ... to suggest that a person who never went to college could have written poetry that is too difficult for most college students. Precisely so.