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Showing posts from May, 2016

Where is the Meaning in Shakespeare?

You shouldn't get annoyed about articles in the Guardian, especially ones with clickbait headlines, otherwise you'd spend your entire life in a digitally-engendered rage. However, following a mildly indulgent piece on theatrical snobbery last week, I found myself reading this not altogether dissimilar article by James Gingell on Shakespeare. The subeditors haven't done a bad job here, and the following does sum it up fairly effectively: 'Rejecting the cult of Bardolatry does not make you an intellectual philistine - Shakespeare is hard to understand, and the language barrier gets in the way of the soul-nourishing content we are led to believe can be found within his plays.'

Now, the first statement is a truism. I'm not an early modern scholar nor a particularly keen theatre-goer. As an academic, I'm well aware and duly sceptical of the historical process through which authors, including Shakespeare, becomes canonised, not least because Shakespeare's own…

Maurice Riordan's 'Badb': A Commentary

I came across Maurice Riordan's work in a bookshop in Derry, and he's one of the contemporary poets who have really caught my eye and ear. Holy Land (2007) is good, but I really really like Floods (2000). It was therefore a pleasure to find a short - albeit not altogether characteristic - text of his to use in concluding my teaching year. Although that was over a month ago now, I wanted to write a few reflections on the blog and I've finally managed to get around to it!*

'Badb' (the title coming from the name of an ancient Irish war-goddess in the shape of a crow) is a somewhat Hughesesque lyric which was perfectly fitted to a seminar on 'nature', producing two really good sets of student discussions. I'm never entirely sure of copyright issues, so I haven't reproduced the text here, but it's easy enough to find the poem as part of a Google preview of Flood, or failing that here. Above all, I just think that as a tracing of the wavering line bet…