A Man for all Seasons

The RSC’s annual Whine.

I’m sure if I looked hard enough, I’d find the annual article about the RSC trying to promote Shakespeare to schools for one reason or another. This time round they’re trying to inculcate four year olds into the Cult of Shake­speare (Teach children Shakespeare at four, says RSC). As some of you may know, I’m not a big fan of the idolatry of the Bard who, I feel, is prob­ably overrated (though you must say such things quietly), and whose Engl­ish is largely gibberish except a patch here and a line or two there which are still comprehensible to speakers of Modern English. Probably, because Shakespeare’s English is not ours and not so easily understood today, we are perhaps apt to mistake the translucent or opaque parts for something immensely clever.

I don’t want to dismiss Shakespeare as some second-rate hack, but he needs to be presented with more reality (i.e., a playwright with commercial concerns dealing artfully with well-worn themes) and less (fawning) adul­ation.

I suspect that if you used Shakespeare as a reading text in the IELTS exam or as the source for the listening test, educated native speakers (with no special knowledge of the language) might be lucky to get IELTS 6.

I was nosing around the Net when I happened across an edition of The Daily Tucket, a reputable journal of note from the early 17th century. Perhaps it might offer some clue why the RSC is trying to indoctrinate four-year-olds.

The Daily Tucket
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