Shakespeare on Robben Island
“Robben Island was the Alcatraz on the South Atlantic where Nelson Mandela and other South African political prisoners spent many years of their lives; the “Bible” was a collection of the complete works of William Shakespeare smuggled into the jail in the 1970s by a prisoner called Sonny Venkatrathnam. They called it the Bible because Venkatrathnam cheated the prison censorship system by telling his warders that it was a Hindu religious work. But there was another reason, too. As the book circulated, Shakespeare’s poems and plays acquired the condition of secular scripture, interpreted by one and all much as believers might the Koran, the Christian Bible or, for that matter, Karl Marx.
As Dora Thornton, the curator of the British Museum exhibition put it, “They used him as a way of developing their own moral sense.” With Shakespeare having anticipated and explored the competing questions of leadership and self-doubt, idealism and expediency, ambition and loyalty that bedevil politicians everywhere and always, but all the more urgently at times of national conflict, Mandela and his comrades drew from his works to shape political debate and lay the philosophical foundations for political action.”
There’s a good deal more on Mandela and Shakespeare, violence and non-violence, and Julius Caesar in this fascinating piece — To kill, or not to kill? — from earlier this year by John Carlin.
shakespearean-insults-deactivat asked: Thou art a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver'd, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way!
So there’s a Tumblr devoted to insulting other Tumblr users with a bunch of amusing Shakespearean insults all mashed together?
Since it’s Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week and my students have pretty much checked out, I decided to ask them to identify some things about our class for which they are and are not thankful. The results, unsurprisingly, are hilarious.
They are almost universally thankful for the blogging assignment and the lack of formal writing assignments in the class, despite the fact that they almost all wait all week before posting anything and thus have very limited interaction and engagement with one another or with me.
They are also thankful that I am funny and that the class requires them to think critically about a variety of topics that have an impact on their lives.
They are almost universally not thankful for the amount of reading that they are assigned. They say that this is because they would like to have more time to read and think critically. That said, the majority of the class seemingly did not read at all for today, despite the fact that the assignment was Acts I-II of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and they had five days to do it.
Hands down, the single best comment I received was this one:
“Thankful that the teacher is funny enough to make the terribly miserable subject matter worth suffering through. Not thankful that the subject matter is miserable. No offense to your area of focus.”
Perhaps the best part about this little assignment is that the students will now see this post and comment on it as part of the blogging assignment that they purportedly enjoy. We’re getting all sorts of meta here!
Mitt Romney tells the crowd, “Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow.”
As a rally slogan, it’s probably not as good as:
Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow!
You’re only a day away!
but it’s certainly better than:
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
The one from Macbeth might hit just a little too close to home …