Scholarship is like technology, always evolving. The Arden Shakespeare edition of Julius Caesar I picked up from the library can’t be the Arden edition of Julius Caesar I read in my schooldays. This edition, first published in 1998, is edited by David Daniell, who begins his introduction to the play by asserting, “Julius Caesar is Shakespeare’s first great tragedy.” Continue reading “Julius Caesar”
Rosalind has been my favourite Shakespearean heroine from the first time I read As You Like It. That was shortly after the Beatles had disbanded, when soft rock was ruling the airwaves and there were no such things as PCs and the World Wide Web. The world has changed utterly since then even in its reading of Shakespeare. As You Like It now turns out to be not just a romantic comedy, which was what I thought it was, but a play with homoerotic elements. Continue reading “As You Like It, Rosalind”
Blueberry Hills belongs with Elvis Presley’s Are You Lonesome Tonight?, Joan Baez’s Diamonds and Rust, and Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right and It Ain’t Me Babe among the sweetest, saddest love songs of all time. And now the voice and piano behind Blueberry Hill is dead. Fats Domino has died at the age of 89. But the boogie-woogie pianist who helped launch rock ’n’ roll will always have a place in my heart. Continue reading “Forever Fats Domino”
The poems of Adrian Henri are as catchy and simple as pop songs. He, Roger McGough and Brian Patten were the three Liverpool poets presented in The Mersey Sound, a bestselling poetry anthology of all time. First published in 1967, The Mersey Sound has sold over a half million copies. Continue reading “Homage to Adrian Henri”
There’s something in common between PG Wodehouse and the early Beatles. Both are unique and both are fun. Listen to Beatles hits like Please Please Me, Help and A Hard Day’s Night – you are struck by the sheer energy and exuberance, the boys sound like no one else on earth. And the lyrics and music are catchy and uncomplicated. Wodehouse also is in a class by himself. I haven’t read a funnier, more entertaining writer. Continue reading “P.G. Wodehouse and the Beatles”
More than a quarter of the Nobel prizes in literature awarded since 1901 have gone to authors writing in English. But English is not the mother tongue of all of them. Kazuo Ishiguro is the fourth Nobel prize winner in literature who writes in English but whose mother tongue isn’t English. Continue reading “Kazuo Ishiguro and other Nobel Prize winners writing in English”
I just came across Anthony Howard on Wikipedia. He was the editor of the New Statesman when I used to look forward to every issue of the weekly.
Just out of high school, reading English as an undergrad, I had a thing about newspapers and magazines back then. Shakespeare and Wordsworth were all very grand but, to keep up with the language, one had to read new books and periodicals too. And top of the pops for me were the New Statesman and Time. Continue reading “Anthony Howard and the old New Statesman”