• First of all, for all that I LOVE Amazon, I hate them a little bit, too. I think I must have bad delivery karma: I ordered Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet last week and (GASP!) paid for the shipping to get it here by Saturday so that I could start showing it to my lit. girls on Monday. Well, Saturday came and went, my friends, and I am still Dane-less, dammit! It wouldn’t be SUCH a big deal except that I am fast losing my voice (yes; despite the hex signs I’ve been throwing and the incantations I’ve been chanting, I’ve caught something and it’s lodged itself firmly in my voice) and I’m thinking that popping a movie in for a class might not be such a bad idea, especially given that I HAVE to give my composition kids a lecture about essay organization and MLA citation procedure tomorrow. I may have to put together a “comparative literature” unit for the ladies and have them negotiate through the text, the Zefirelli Hamlet and the Branagh Hamlet (which, I’m sure, will be snugly in my mailbox tomorrow when I come home from work) as their mid-term. Grrrr.
• Mr. Chili and I were watching Band of Brothers on the History Channel last night, and the network put up a little advertisement that they’re selling the DVD set for 25% off, so I went online to check out whether or not the prices were competitive with other places I’ve seen the series for sale. In the course of my investigation, I found these, and I’ve decided that I really, REALLY want them. I can’t justify the expense at the moment, but it’s going on my wish list for sure.
• OH! RIGHT! I’ve been wanting to tell you all about this since it happened last Wednesday, but I keep forgetting:
So, the lit. ladies and I are sitting around our table, reading the bits and pieces of Hamlet that they had trouble with on their own, when we get to the part where King Hamlet’s ghost first appears to his son. I read this part aloud to the girls…
I am thy father’s spirit,
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love–
… when one of my students – a VERY bright young lady who took the class with me last year (she failed because her life fell apart at the end of the semester and she just stopped coming) – stopped me. “WAIT a minute!” she said, “this sounds familiar! Didn’t Jacob Marley say something just like this to Scrooge?”
Well, my dear, as a matter of fact, he DID!!
“It is required of every man,” the Ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world — oh, woe is me! — and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!…Nor can I tell you what I would. A very little more, is all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. “
I was positively DELIGHTED that she noticed both ghosts’ inability to rest, and that neither was at liberty to fully divulge the nature of their current existence to others. I’m also thrilled by how many things the girls are recognizing in the reading, particularly “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” and Polonius’ rants about “neither a borrower nor a lender be” and his bit about the clothes making the man. I don’t think they ever fully appreciated how much influence Shakespeare has had on our common vocabulary, and it’s exiting for me to see them get excited when they recognize something from the text that they’ve seen (or said) out in the “real world.” THAT’S why literature class is important.