The Pleasure of Reading! Revisited!

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I have spent the majority of my time on this blog writing about writing, so I thought I would address the most fundamental and most important part of this experience with books: reading.

I have been reading my entire life; in fact, I cannot remember a time when I did not read. And reading has informed my life in many ways, not only in terms of career but also in the joys of life itself.

I read books, I teach them, and I write about them, but mostly, I enjoy them. I remember my mother telling me when I was very little that you can go many places that you might not ever have a chance to visit, real and made up, if you read. And I have visited and continue to journey to real and fantastic lands.

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I am not a reading snob. While I teach college English Literature, I read in a very wide range, from adventure and horror to drama and so-called high literature, although I am not so certain that this distinction is accurate. Both Shakespeare and Dickens were considered popular writers in their time. Hemingway straddled the mythical fence of literature and genre writing. Today, I happily read authors in a multitude of genres, including Stephen King and John Connolly, among many others. So, I read whatever I choose, in any area. And I get great pleasure from the reading.

I hope that all people can experience this pleasure. I realize not everyone will, but I can keep hoping they do.

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GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

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What Are You Currently Reading?

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Reading is both of one the greatest pleasures of life and one of the necessities for writers. It gives readers the chance to escape from the outside world and immerse themselves into a completely fictional place for a while, and it serves as a foundation upon which to learn and draw for writers.  To me, reading is one of the essential components of life. It is more than mere recreation; it is a central part of my being.

I do, however, read for pleasure as well as for learning and for my profession as a teacher.  I count reading as one of the essential joys of life.

I am currently reading several books: Paris In The Present Tense by Mark Helprin, the author of the magnificent A Soldier Of The Great War and Winter’s Tale. Like his other books, this one is dense and beautiful, but it requires time to digest sections that have been read before continuing. I hope more people read Helprin’s novels. I am also reading We Three: The Mythology of Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters by Laura Shamas, Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, and Death At La Fenice by Donna Leon, the first book in her Commissario Brunetti mystery series.

My question to those who are reading this post: What book are you reading now or have recently read?

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GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

Quotations in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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Here are three quotations from The Tempest by William Shakespeare, one of his romances, formerly called the tragi-comedies, a genre he worked in toward the end of his incredible career. I have used this play often in my classes both at the Wescoe School for adult students at Muhlenberg College and at Lehigh University.

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“You do look, my son, in a moved sort,

 As if you were dismay’d; 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-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,

 The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

 Ye, 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 a sleep.”

(The Tempest Act 4. Scene 1. Lines 161-173.)

 

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(William Hamilton)

“But this rough magic

 I here abjure, and, when I have required

 Some heavenly music, which even now I do,

To work my end upon their senses that

 This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,

 Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,

 And deeper than did ever plummet sound

I’ll drown my book.”

(The Tempest Act 5. Scene 1. Lines 55-62)

 

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(John William Waterhouse)

“O, wonder!

 How many goodly creatures are there here!

 How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

 That has such people in’t”

(The Tempest Act 5. Scene 1. Lines (203-206)

 

Beautiful Writing: Part 2: William Shakespeare

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I would certainly be avoiding the truth and not doing duty to writing if I did not include in this series the man who is certainly the best and most important writer in English Drama and Literature: William Shakespeare.

In full disclosure, I am a Shakespearean. I have made the study of his work one of my areas of my Ph.D. in English, I have taught Shakespeare many times, I have presented papers on Shakespeare, and I have directed and acted in his plays. So, I do come with a particular bias, but I maintain that his work is the core of English Literature.

You certainly do not have to agree with me.

I will offer a few examples:

Sonnet 116

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”

Henry V (Act 4. Scene 3. Lines 21-70)

“What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires:

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour

As one man more, methinks, would share from me

For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made

And crowns for convoy put into his purse:

We would not die in that man’s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is called the feast of Crispian:

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.

And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,

But he’ll remember with advantages

What feats he did that day: then shall our names.

Familiar in his mouth as household words

Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,

Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remember’d;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

 

Hamlet (Act 5. Scene 2. Lines 206-211)

“Not a whit, we defy augury: there’s a 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: since no man has aught of what he

 leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?”

Quotations From Writers From Earlier Times

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Today I will offer a few quotations from writers from earlier eras about creativity, learning, and teaching.

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(illustration from Cassell’s History Of England – Century Edition – published circa 1902)

“And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche”

“And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.”

These are the Middle English and the Modern English versions of this quotation from “The General Prologue” of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. This idea is of enormous importance to me, because I am both a teacher and a life-long student.  All people should try to continue to learn throughout their lives and to teach someone else the wisdom they have amassed.

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(Portrait of William Shakespeare, attributed to John Taylor
NPG London)

“Suit the action to the word, the

word to the action, with this special observance, that you

o’erstep not the modesty of of nature. For anything so over-

done is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at

the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirror

up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her

own image, and the very age and body of the time his

form and pressure.”

                                William Shakespeare (Hamlet Act 3. Scene2. lines 16-23)

Shakespeare speaks to the importance of representing life and humanity as it is and to examine the world in its complexities; it can also be an injunction for all creative efforts. I do not mean we should eliminate abstraction, metaphor, or altered forms, but that, at our core, we are creating art about humanity and our world.

Keep learning and keep sharing what you know.

 

 

Dining With Authors: Part Two

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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 .

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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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Dining With Characters: Part II

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For the next installment of this series, I wanted to focus on a few characters out of Shakespeare with whom I would like to spend a couple of hours eating, drinking, and talking. I have loved Shakespeare’s plays and poetry for much of my life. I have acted in and directed some of his work, and I have studied and taught his writing, so I would be thrilled to be able to speak to some of his characters.

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http://coursphilosophie.free.fr/illustrations/mort.php

I would have Hamlet, Henry V, and Macbeth as my guests. I imagine we would meet in an English tavern and have a basic meal and beer.  I hope that my royal attendees would not mind not having a grand meal; I am reasonably sure that Henry V and Hamlet spent a fair amount of time in such modest places before their respective plays begin, and as a Scot and a warrior, Macbeth probably was used to basic accommodations while in the field.

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I would ask them about their views of leadership and the responsibilities of a leader and about their portrayals in the plays.  Henry V and Macbeth are both based on historical persons, while Hamlet is perhaps based on a real person–that is a debate for another day, so I wonder what they might have to say.

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I think this would be a lively and deeply fascinating discussion.  Who from the world of drama, not necessarily Shakespeare, would you choose to invite to speak with?

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