Monday, August 16, 2010

Bored With The Bard

Hilton Als begins his review of The Merchant Of Venice with this odd belief:

Part of the reason that Shakespeare remains one of the handful of writers who engage generation after generation of readers has to do with the way he is taught, or, at least, was taught in the New York City public-school system of my youth. Back then, in the mid-seventies, students balanced their attempts to understand iambic pentameter with recitations from the text itself; you absorbed Shakespeare’s almost otherworldly skill at threading ideas and emotions through groups of syllables by saying the words aloud.

"Part of the reason"? If so, it's got to be a small part. I question how much Shakespeare lives due to how he's taught in any way. A lot of others big names are taught but don't live on the same way. I doubt even more the specific way Als learned Shakespeare made that much difference.

I'd guess it's a mix of the colleges types who go much deeper, and the even larger theatre types who love the action and poetry, that keep Shakespeare alive. If you think public schools imbue us with a love of Shakespeare, I suggest you go to a graduation and ask random students how much he means to them. Most kids face Shakespeare in high school, and that's the last time they ever see him.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he was trying to say that poetic nature of lines interspersed with the arc of the drama makes Shakespeare compelling but he got caught up in his memories of how he studied it in school and muddled the point. Hilton Als is no Shakespeare.

1:06 PM, August 16, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

He says a reason Shakespeare lives on is due to the way he's taught. Closer to the truth is Shakespeare lives on despite the way he's taught.

5:26 PM, August 16, 2010  

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