Episode 119: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Acts I and II
Welcome back to The Literary Life podcast and our series on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After kicking off the episode with their commonplace quotes, Angelina, Cindy and Thomas start digging into the play itself. Thomas brings up the importance of the timing of this story being midsummer. Angelina gives a little background into the names and characters in this play as well as some of the major ideas we can be looking for in the story.
In February Angelina will be offering a webinar on Jonathan Swift: Enemy of the Enlightenment. Check it out at HouseofHumaneLetters.com.
Join us this spring for our next Literary Life Conference “The Battle Over Children’s Literature” featuring special guest speaker Vigen Guroian. The live online conference will take place April 7-9, 2022, and you can go to HouseofHumaneLetters.com for more information.
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Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet.John Dryden, in a letter to Jonathan Swift
It would be difficult indeed to define wherein lay the peculiar truth of the phrase “merrie England”, though some conception of it is quite necessary to the comprehension of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In some cases at least, it may be said to lie in this, that the English of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, unlike the England of today, could conceive of the idea of a merry supernaturalism.G. K. Chesterton
And yet, there are people who say that Shakespeare always means, “just what he says.” He thinks that to find over and under meanings in Shakespeare’s plays is to take unwarranted liberties with them, is like a man who holds the word “spring” must refer only to a particular period of the year, and could not possibly mean birth, or youth or hope. He is a man who has never associated anything with anything else. He is a man without metaphors, and such a man is no man at all, let alone a poet.Harold Goddard
Advice to Lovers
by Robert Graves
I knew an old man at a Fair Who made it his twice-yearly task To clamber on a cider cask And cry to all the yokels there:-- "Lovers to-day and for all time Preserve the meaning of my rhyme: Love is not kindly nor yet grim But does to you as you to him. "Whistle, and Love will come to you, Hiss, and he fades without a word, Do wrong, and he great wrong will do, Speak, he retells what he has heard. "Then all you lovers have good heed Vex not young Love in word or deed: Love never leaves an unpaid debt, He will not pardon nor forget." The old man's voice was sweet yet loud And this shows what a man was he, He'd scatter apples to the crowd And give great draughts of cider, free.
“Battle of the Books” by Jonathan Swift
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
The Meaning of Shakespeare by Harold Goddard
The Elizabethan World Picture by E. M. Tillyard
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
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