Returning to Dining With Authors

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(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Renaissance_theatre)

The drawing of the Swan Theatre (1596)

Hamlet, Doctor Faustus, The Tempest, and Edward the Second are just a few of the plays produced by the two greatest playwrights of the Renaissance: William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. Born in the same year–1564, they were the two premier writers of their age and arguably among the  most important of any era. These are writers who have informed both my studies and entranced my imagination.  At Muhlenberg College, I teach Renaissance drama courses and Shakespeare . This summer I am teaching a course called Renaissance Plays In Process, in which we look at several plays and the circumstances surrounding them in the Renaissance as well as how they might be produced today. Whenever I can, I love teaching about these playwrights.

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https://pixabay.com

Christopher Marlowe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Marlowe

I would love to have the opportunity through a magic time machine to sit down and have a conversation with these two giants of the theater. I would invite both writers to spend an afternoon or evening at a pub–English of course–and over beer and food discuss many topics with them. I am sure that sometimes I would simply listen to them.

I would love to hear what they said about their work and how they felt about each other. I would love to learn from them the specifics of the way their plays were staged. I would ask Marlowe about his mysterious work for the Queen of England.  Was he a spy?  I do not know if he would answer, but I would still have to ask.

I would ask Shakespeare about the canon of his plays.  Were there plays he wrote that are currently lost?  If so, what are they? And I have often wondered if he ever considered writing a tragedy about King Arthur.

I also wonder how the two great writers would behave together. Would this be a polite conversation, a deep discussion of theatrical issues, or a wild and fiery debate or argument among bitter rivals?

I wish I could speak with them.

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https://pixabay.com

 

If you could speak with 2 or 3  authors, no matter living or dead, who would they be? Where would you like to have the meeting?

Shakespeare on Wisdom

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photo of black ceramic male profile statue under grey sky during daytime

(Photo by Mike on Pexels.com)

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

                                               As You Like It

 

And seeing ignorance is the curse of God, Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven”

                                              Henry VI, Part 2

 

“There is no darkness but ignorance”

                                              Twelfth Night

 

 

A Shakespeare Quotation: 2

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In Hamlet, after the King has issued a challenge for Hamlet to fight a duel, which is supposed to be a sporting event with Laertes, but in which the King has planned for Hamlet to die, Hamlet’s closest friend, Horatio warns him to avoid the contest. Hamlet, however, dismisses the fear of death.

HORATIO: If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will

forestall their repair hither and say you are not fit.

HAMLET: Not a whit. We defy augery. There is special

providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis

not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it

be not now; yet it will come. The readiness is all. (5. 2. 217-220)

 

Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works of Shakespeare Seventh

Edition. David Bevington editor. Pearson. 2014.

A Quotation From William Shakespeare Part I

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I am beginning a new series of quotations, in which I will feature pieces from one particular author for several weeks. I begin with the best and most important, William Shakespeare.

photo of black ceramic male profile statue under grey sky during daytime

(Photo by Mike on Pexels.com)

You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismayed: be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with sleep.

The Tempest (4. 1. 146-158)

Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works of Shakespeare Seventh Edition. David

Bevington. Editor. Pearson. Boston. 2014.

My Recommended Reading List!

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brown wooden shelf with books

(Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com)

In my college classes at both Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA,  I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author I suggest and then tell the students that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  I have put together a partial list of some of the books I have suggested. Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list of Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings:

Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!

 

 

A Renewed Call To Join The Underground Library Society!

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ULS Logo 3

I am again asking for those who would like to join the U.L.S.,the Underground Library Society, to join and write a guest post. I put this request out several times over the course of a year, because I hope to have more people join in the cause.

In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again.

In that spirit, I am putting out the call once more for like-minded people to join The U.L.S. All that is needed is to choose a book you would memorize if the need ever arose. The type or genre of the chosen piece does not matter.  There is no restriction on what you would become. You do not, however, actually have to memorize  the book now. If you wish to join, simply write a guest post in which you say what book you would “become” and why.

I have had several other bloggers join the U. L. S. Join the movement!

I hope many of you choose to join.

In the past, I have mentioned that I would become one of the following books: The Lord Of The Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you do wish to do a post, please email me at frenchc1955@yahoo.com  and write a guest post as a Word doc. Thank you.

Charles F. French

ULS logo 1

I am looking forward to hearing from new members!

Please, come and join in the fun!

10 Books That Influenced Me

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books filed neatly on shelves

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After doing a post about the 10 most influential books to literature,  I wanted to create a post about the 10 books I consider the most influential books to  me.  I am open to all suggestions.

Hamlet. William Shakespeare.

The Iliad. Homer.

Le Morte d’ Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory.

The Lord Of The Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien.

Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury.

The Stand. Stephen King.

The Shadow of the Wind. Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes.

Frankenstein. Mary Shelley.

Dracula.  Bram Stoker.

What are some of the most influential books for you?

10 Most Influential Books

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(www.pixabay.com)

I recently had a request from a man who is my cousin but much more–my brother–about what books I consider to be the most influential, in terms of literature.

As a professor, I could not simply answer without considering several possibilities. Today I will post what I consider to be the ten most influential texts to the world of literature. Of course, this is my opinion and open to debate.

Here they are, in no particular order:

The Collected Works of Shakespeare. William Shakespeare.

The Illiad and The Odyssey. Homer.

The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer.

Le Morte d’ Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory.

Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes.

Frankenstein. Mary Shelley.

To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee.

Beloved. Toni Morrison.

Moby Dick. Herman Melville.

1984. George Orwell.

What do you think of this selection?

In another post,  I will offer ten books that have been personally influential.

An Invitation To Join The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society

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ULS Logo 3

I am again asking for those who would like to join the U.L.S.,the Underground Library Society, to join and write a guest post. I put this request out several times over the course of a year, because I hope to have more people join in the cause.

In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again.

I am again teaching the subject of banned books and censorship, and my students will take part in this organization, and I hope that many of you do also. My students will create posters about the book they choose, put them up at various places on campus, do a blog post on the project, memorize one paragraph form their chosen books, and then give a short presentation about the work at the end of the semester.

In that spirit, I am putting out the call once more for like-minded people to join The U.L.S. All that is needed is to choose a book you would memorize if the need ever arose. The type or genre of the chosen piece does not matter.  There is no restriction on what you would become. You do not, however, actually have to memorize  the book now. You do not need to create a poster, although if you do, I ask only that you use the logo of the U.L.S. on this page. If you wish to join, simply write a guest post in which you say what book you would “become” and why.

I hope many of you choose to join.

In the past, I have mentioned that I would become one of the following books: The Lord Of The Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you do wish to do a post, please email me at frenchc1955@yahoo.com  and write a guest post as a Word doc. Thank you.

Charles F. French

ULS logo 1

I am looking forward to hearing from new members!

Please, come and join in the fun!

Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Hero?

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In continuing my series on favorite fictional characters, I decided to ask today’s question about heroes. This one is very tough for me, because there are so many possibilities from which I can choose. Among the many I have considered are Mina Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Henry V from Shakespeare’s play of the same name, and Captain America from the Marvel Comics. I will, however, use the technique that I recommend for students on tests and quizzes–to go with your first choice when asked a question.  Now, that typically refers to memory, but I will still use it.

The one character who came to mind before any other was Aragorn from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings.  He is the leader who does not care about his own safety, who fights in the front lines with the soldiers he leads into combat, and he views the hobbits as his equals.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

So, I ask all of you: who is your favorite fictional hero?