Podcast: A taster of Ulysses
May 12, 2012
May 12, 2012
Type Of Study:
Middle Grades Literature
One Off Event
"The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral; scene individable, or poem unlimited." How does
“The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy,
history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral,
tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral; scene
individable, or poem unlimited.”
How does one introduce a play that is so deeply imbedded in our cultural history? For this Salon, we come to study Hamlet afresh, not worrying about whether we see it as Shakespeare’s greatest play ever or whether we stand breathless at the language – but finding within the play what has so riveted audiences and readers for centuries. In addition, we have Shakespearean actor Jane Wymark as facilitator: Jane offers deep insights: having played Ophelia to Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet for over 200 performances, she has Hamlet in her bones. We welcome to this Salon those who have never read or seen the play along with those who have memorized entire soliloquies – we will need both perspectives to carefully negotiate our way through the “constantly shifting register not only of action but of language” (Frank Kermode, Shakespeare’s Language, 2000).
What is Hamlet about? Themes include the most precise questions of loyalty, revenge and allegiance, what it means to be human, the role of fate and self-will, the truth of madness- the essences of human experience. The language must stand up to the weight of these themes – we will closely examine the words and structures to decide if it does and if so, how. Hamlet as a character is utterly compelling: the sinuous dance of his mind, his outrage at human frailty, his exquisite language infused by his agony at a world too small and mean for his spirit inspires the reader.
As with any other Salon dealing with a dramatic work, we will read aloud — sections of the text and I will suggest viewing various filmed adaptations. For those who are keen to stretch themselves, there will be opportunities for a prepared reading. We will include in our discussions reflections on various productions and how this play speaks to this strange time we are living; we shall also consider diversity in casting and setting of the play over time.
THIS SALON IS NOW FULL– if you are interested in this study, please contact us to schedule another Hamlet…
To register, please use the Paypal button below (one for previous Salon participants, one for first timers) Upon receipt of payment, I will send you the opening notes, resources and preparation suggestions.
Reflections from our previous study:
“Thank you for such an engrossing salon, and so well-choreographed. Hamlet feels like a play that’s a companion through life, and at this turbulent time it has meant so much to me to share it with you and the group. Thank you. You get it, and that makes such a difference.”
“The word ‘joy’ is not one I’ve ever associated with Hamlet before, but
it perfectly describes my experience studying the play under Jane’s
expert tutelage. Reading scenes aloud between discussions about the
text brought Shakespeare’s words to life in a way I hadn’t experienced
since working in theatre. Jane created a welcoming environment where I
felt comfortable sharing thoughts, ideas, and even questions about
lines I didn’t understand. It was truly a delight.” JM Hamlet Salon 2020
“There is one peculiarity which real works of art possess in common. At each fresh reading one notices some change in them, as if the sap of life ran in their leaves, and with skies and plants they had the power to alter their shape and color from season to season. To write down one’s impressions of Hamlet as one reads it year after year, would be virtually to record one’s own autobiography, for as we know more of life, so Shakespeare comments upon what we know.”
“It has made me better loving you... it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great
“It has made me better loving you… it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better. It’s just as when one has been trying to spell out a book in the twilight, and suddenly the lamp comes in. I had been putting out my eyes over the book of life, and finding nothing to reward me for my pains; but now that I can read it properly I see that it’s a delightful story.”
― Henry James,
The book is a painted portrait or even a kaleidoscope. We watch and guess what Isabel will do. But like a portrait, she is (perhaps) caught in a frame and frozen by the artistry –or the terms of her world.
Previous studies have included considerations of gender roles, the negotiated space between self and other, the corruption or freedom offered by privilege, the challenge of looking at nationalities in generalizations (and the tempting ease to do so), the ways in which humans reveal themselves…these Salon discussions are full of wonder: the meeting of the gathered minds and the provoking text is a powerful thing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to echo in the lines and characters of Henry James, Isabel in particular: “You think of me the child of my circumstances: I make my circumstance…I—this thought which is called I, –is the mould into which the world is poured like melted wax. The mould is invisible, but the world betrays the shape of the mould. You call it the power of circumstance, but it is the power of me.” –from Emerson’s essay The Transcendentalist
Our study of PoAL may include a consideration of this quote in light of Isabel’s life and choices: how much do we make ourselves? How does the world impose itself on the individual in the act of self-creation?
To register for the Salon study, please use the Paypal button below to pay £190: Please ensure that the email that is connected to your Paypal account is the same email that you use for correspondence (if you prefer direct bank transfer, please Contact Us)
From J. Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
“The question (could a novel be art) were…framed in terms of technique, but the ideal was no longer just to promote the novel’s ability to communicate more and more details about more and more things, but also to have an aesthetic shape or effect that would be intended by the author and felt by the reader as consciously graceful, beautiful or ‘right.’ Foremost proponent of these ideas was Henry James…” p. 134
“Everything that Isabel has learned about love and marriage growing up in the United States turns out to be wrong—in Europe, marriage is a pure commodity relationship, and it is the fate girls to be bought, sold, and dominated. Their only choices are to accept their fate knowingly or undergo it without understanding it. ..In Pofa Lady James does what he intended to do…uses intense psychological analysis and careful depiction of settings to fill the spots where the vulgar might have been. “ p. 135
“H. James …recognized that, as vital and satisfying as the English novel was, English novels were missing something that French novels possessed—psychological refinement and depth. …HJ wanted to write…important novels about the progress of the inner life, in which the climax might be only a silent recognition by the protagonist that she has made a commitment fatal to her happiness. Readers had to be educated to understand the weight of such subterranean drama…” p.136
THIS STUDY IS NOW FULL. If you would like to be placed on a wait list, please
THIS STUDY IS NOW FULL. If you would like to be placed on a wait list, please contact facilitator Mark Cwik.
“Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls. . .”
The first great work of European literature is a magnificent poem that challenges us to think about what really matters: about what is worth living—and dying—for. Homer’s Iliad recounts the story of the Trojan War, covering just a few pivotal weeks near the end of the ten-year siege of the mighty city of Troy. The invading Greek army’s greatest warrior, Achilles, withdraws from the fighting after a dispute with their leader Agamemnon, bringing the threat of defeat and destruction upon the Greeks. His action precipitates devastating results for both sides, ultimately leading to the fall of Troy itself.
Homer portrays a world in which his characters are pulled by forces most of which seem beyond their control. On the human plane, they are driven by loyalties to comrades, fidelity to an oath, responsibility to family and city, subordination to authority, and the lure of fame. Above them, the Olympian gods exert influence both benevolent and malign. Looming over everything is the obscure force called Fate.
Though memorable for its scenes of bloody battle and the squabbling of gods on Olympus, the Iliad exudes an intense humanity, infusing a tragic longing for peace amid the seeming inevitability of war and destruction. Homer invites us to put ourselves into the world of the war: a place no one wants to be, where the gods seem unpredictable, and where there’s a genuine question of whether justice is anywhere to be found. Through the struggles of Homer’s warriors, the Iliad brings us face-to-face with fundamental questions about honor, community, justice, love, and loyalty, as the story’s characters search to make sense of their inescapable mortality.
Each week of this eight-meeting study we will examine closely several key passages of the poem, allowing us to take an in-depth look at the wealth of fascinating characters, conflicts and big questions raised by Homer’s epic. The study will take place on Zoom. Each session will last 2 1/4 hours, with a short break mid-session.
TO REGISTER for the study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £190. If you would prefer to pay by bank transfer, please email facilitator Mark Cwik to arrange payment.
ABOUT THE FACILITATOR: Mark Cwik has been organizing and leading discussions of great literature for over twenty years in London, Chicago and Toronto. He specializes in works from the ancient, mythic and religious world. He was trained as a discussion facilitator while at the Great Books Foundation in Chicago and has been a passionate advocate for great books education since attending St. John’s College, Santa Fe and the University of Chicago Basic Program in Liberal Education.
“I’ve been coming to Mark’s discussion groups for about 15 years . . . Mark is amazing in his ability to keep the group functioning smoothly. He asks questions that get to the heart of the piece and he keeps the group focused on those questions. You don’t feel that he’s trying to steer us to any conclusion; he’s in it with us to figure out what the author is saying. He makes everyone feel welcome and their opinions are respectfully heard. He’s always prepared and totally dedicated to advancing our understanding of the great books.” — group participant.
If you have any questions about this study, please contact facilitator Mark Cwik.
23feb4:30 pm5:30 pmNew Kid by Jerry Craft - *Virtual Study*Winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal for Excellence in Children's Literature4:30 pm - 5:30 pm GMT VIRTUALType Of Study:Middle Grades LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Five weeks
“This distinct, timely, and honest story respects children and gives its readers a glimpse into what it means to be other.” -
“This distinct, timely, and honest story respects children and gives its readers a glimpse into what it means to be other.” – Newbery Medal Committee Chair Krishna Grady
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enrol him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of colour in his entire year.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighbourhood friends and staying true to himself?
Barb Turk facilitates this study of the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal, examining reading strategies, building visual literacy and offering a platform for middle-grade students to consider racism through the characters’ relationships and interactions at school and home.
Art is organisation — a searching after order. The primal artistic act is God’s creating of the universe out of chaos — shaping
Art is organisation — a searching after order. The primal artistic act is God’s creating of the universe out of chaos — shaping formlessness into form. Therefore evaluate a poem by its unity, coherence and proper placement of emphasis: structure, form, pattern, symmetry (reflect) the human instinct for design.
– notes from Perrine’s Sound & Sense pg. 219
Since Sir Thomas Wyatt introduced the Petrarchan sonnet to the English Court in the early16th century poets have been using this deceptively simple 14-line form to express their thoughts on love, mortality, politics and just about everything else. Adapted by Shakespeare to accommodate the challenges of rhyming in English and used by a succession of poets from Milton to Frost, the sonnet is very much alive and well in the 21st Century – in recent years two poets have received TS Eliot Prize nominations for collections comprised entirely of sonnets.
This two-part study considers the enduring appeal of the sonnet through the study of form, metre and voice. Sonnets written in the 1600’s or in 2000’s will be looked at in detail to help us understand how poets have found expression for their ideas through fitting them into a tightly woven square of rhymed iambic pentameter. Throughout the course we will read these “little songs” aloud and dig deeper into their meaning as we hear their music.
Facilitated by: Caroline Hammond and Jane Wymark
Wednesday Evenings: 6pm – 8pm
2 meeting study: 24th February & 3rd March 2021
Recommended Books: TBC
£50 for two meeting study includes background materials and opening notes
To register, please use the PayPal button below to pay £50.
Upon receipt of payment, I will send you the opening notes, resources and preparation suggestions. If you have any questions about this study, please contact us.