Best of Series,  Shakespeare,  Show Notes

Episode 206: “Best of” Series – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Acts I & II, Ep. 119

Welcome back to The Literary Life podcast and our “Best of” re-air of the 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.

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Commonplace Quotes:

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.

Book List:

Amazon affiliate links

“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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