Exactly a year ago I finished my blog thus: ‘The thought did cross my mind that I would not teach Shakespeare again. After a few years history teaching the origins of the second world war lost their freshness. But every reading of Hamlet opened up new vistas, new thoughts, plus the sheer miracle of the language. Across the centuries Shakespeare remains a miracle of language and plot. No one has ever strung human dreams together. It was a privilege to bring his texts and students together.’
That blog was about leaving secondary teaching to become an inspector of schools – a major change of direction in my educational career. As it turns out I did teach Shakespeare again. For two years I did a little part-time tutoring in the English Department at Victoria University. Othello was one of the set texts. And in 1987 I did a term’s relieving at Wellington East Girl’s College. ‘As You Like It’ was part of the syllabus. What an endearing heroine Rosalind is.
Watching from afar two political fights I thought all politiicans should be forced to read Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caeser once a year. Hubris, naievity, narcism, ambition, the search for power – they are all there in the play. Also honour, good people, sincere people caught in the machinations of the system
‘Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.’
'Shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes.?’
‘We must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.’
Having climbed the ladder those at the top try to kick it away. And others keep aiming for higher rungs. I thought the break-up of the Alliance in 2002 was spectacular. At least it was over a cause. This week’s discord in ACT, while equally dramatic appears personal. One thing looks clear. There will be fall-out.
Across the Tasman the Australian general election is the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy. Was the political assassination of Kevin Rudd a disaster? Would they have won under him? History will not answer the second question. The first is in the hands of the Australian electorate. It’s been a messy affair. From this distance few of the players seemed to have performed well. Those who live by the sword, often die from the sword. And as Shakespeare says in another play 'a plague on both your houses.'
The 2018 Book Council Lecture
2 days ago