The book “The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606” is a great read if the beginning is any indication.
It starts with a couplet from 1594 that also fits the current anti-establishment mood in the United States and England.
The screeking raven sits croaking for revenge,
Whole herds of beasts come bellowing for revenge.
The author says this is an unforgettably bad couplet from the “True Tragedy of Richard the Third,” a play that influenced Shakespeare’s writing of Hamlet.
Hamlet reworks the couplet in the play:
Come, ‘the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.’
The original is actually a great couplet. It was meant to be grotesque in the first place. Imagine reading it in an Edgar Allan Poe manner and it’s fabulous.
It is only unforgettably bad if you’re too concerned with rules. After all, rhyming “revenge” with “revenge” is not “A+ A+,” as my Japanese-American grandma used to say whenever she was proud of her Turkish Cypriot grandson. (My Muslim grandma would say “doctor doctor.”)
It deserves a “G” for grotesque though. A screeking, croaking raven does conjure up images of beasts more than real animals.
Shakespeare did not take a bad couplet and make it better. He took a great couplet and made great use of it.
The result is even more nimble at being grotesque. By mangling the words, Hamlet gives us a croaking raven bellowing to the point — a fully fledged creature of air, water, and body. He makes it look effortless by offering it as a wisecrack.
Maybe the problem with modern critics is that they don’t know how to grade these things? They’re too concerned with being sharp-eyed that they forget to put on their monster-eye.
An eye for monsters is what is missing from observances of the world’s stage in 2016. It’s missing in discussions of radical Islam, which is what all the world, I think, are croaking, bellowing and screeking about today. One of the few writers who doesn’t let the possibility of monsters escape his sight is Bosch Fawstin. He is an award-winning Muhammed cartoon artist.
According to Victor Hugo’s out of print book of literary criticism William Shakespeare, an example of the grotesque is the one-eyed monster in Homer’s The Odyssey.
Imagine if Odysseus had worn Harvard goggles that made the monsters in his journey invisible to him.
Would he ever have gotten off that island?
Would we even know of his fate or would the truth have been redacted by the gods?
Instead of accusing radical Islam’s critics of “Islamophobia,” we need to inquire where we can find more of these monster-eyed critics. Their latest gift to the world was the unredacted Omar Mateen 911 transcripts. Their ultimate gift will be lives saved.
Blog Author’s Note:
My previous post “Paradise Regained: Ted Cruz, the Pope’s Banana” was a burlesque — a form of writing that even dour Russian writers used in social commentary. It might continue to be a part of my style because if we did not find comic relief during protracted battles we would stop from depression, and we must not stop.
I admired and support the continued discussion of the issues brought up in Ted Cruz’s June 28th Senate hearing “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism.” The treatment of rightists such as Senator Cruz by the press since has been shameful.
The terrorist attack in Orlando hit close to home for me.
We need to cut off Muhammad’s banana.