After the play, my father commented that the play was "cute," not to mention "fluffy" (or, as we amended it, "fwuffy"). One certainly doesn't go to As You Like It looking for a plot, if that's not too heretical a thing to say about a Shakespeare play. It was, in any event, an enjoyable evening. The actors were all comfortable with the language, neither rattling off their words like machine guns nor thudding through the blank verse. While Rosalind and Orlando both needed some time to get into the evening's swing of things, they both turned out to be engaging young lovers; of the supporting players, Jaques and Touchstone were most consistently "on." Lots of love in the air, etc. Some additional notes:
The Old Globe does its Shakespeare Festival in the outdoor theater. Dare one point out that helicopters and airplanes are not, perhaps, altogether conducive to creating a pastoral atmosphere?
The director made interesting use of, um, the prop sheep.
Why was the play staged in Victorian dress? The director made no attempt to link the action to the costumes--it might just as well have been done black-turtleneck fashion, or something. Moreover, there's always an annoying "blip" when the actors refer to non-existent costumes or props. ("I return my sword," announces Orlando. "That looks like a six-inch hunting knife to me," thinks the audience.)
Elizabeth Longford, Wellington: Pillar of State (Harper & Row, 1972). Second volume of Longford's biography of the "Iron Duke," dealing with his political career.
Jerome Beaty, "Middlemarch" from Notebook to Novel: A Study of George Eliot's Creative Method (Illinois, 1960). An analysis of Eliot's composition process.
D. A. Hamer, The Politics of Electoral Pressure: A Study in the History of Victorian Reform Agitations (Harvester, 1977). A study of the so-called "faddists" outside of Parliament and their attempts to exert some sort of political influence.
Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (Picador, 2004). Computer meets the Canon, with unforeseen results.
Posts on manners are coming up all over. Exhibit A: how to insult an academic when inviting her to give a talk. Exhibit B: how to insult an academic when complaining about your own failure to get a job. Exhibit C: how to insult an academic, period. On a slightly different note, the CoHE hosts a first-person essay on collegiality, which, despite the writer's obvious (and, I hasten to add, perfectly justified) irritation, makes some good points about how the meaning of collegiality alters in different academic contexts.
Obviously, I'm biased, but being a Victorianist is just the most splendid thing in the world. More seriously, as Sharleen Mondal observes, it sounds very logical, given her interests. It may also be very practical--having fields in multiple national literatures or, for that matter, time periods, can be a Good Thing. I know of whereof I speak, as I spent my first year teaching in my secondary fields (Restoration & 18th c., Romantic), which, granted, produced some odd reactions when I went job-hunting the second time ("Why are you teaching British Romantic prose, exactly?"), but positive cash-flow is positive cash-flow. Of course, as Ms. Mondal rightly points out, the Victorian period is somewhat overpopulated with Bad Novels which are, shall we say, of a less than aesthetically exciting nature--not to mention, occasionally a trifle longer than can quite be reconciled with the 21st century reader's toleration for preachy didactic tales--but, like Chicago winters, Bad Victorian Novels build Character. (In other words, Bad Victorian Novels are really a Good Thing, not a Bad Thing, even if, like Picts and Pitts, they come in Waves.*) However, if it's a secondary field, you can stick to Great Victorian Novels, which not only build Character (because even Great Victorian Novels tend to run on for 800 pages or so) but also are Wonderful and Conducive to Happiness.
*--The uninitiated should quickly grab themselves a copy of 1066 and All That.
Noctes Ambrosianae?...Nope, incomplete set...Well, here are all the Modern Library books. There seems to be a surfeit of Jean Christophe and The Complete Works of Keats and Shelley, but, no, no collected works of Beddoes...Will I survive without Eugene Sue? Probably...I wonder if I'm the one responsible for buying out all of their old Everymans...That book on Victorian painting looks interesting...No, it doesn't look $40-worth of interesting...OK, here's a book on the Pre-Raphaelites in nice shape--but, nah, the choice of paintings isn't particularly original...I could go ahead and buy Monypenny and Buckle...On the other hand, I don't want two random volumes of Monypenny and Buckle, strike that...Do I or do I not have Pope-Hennessy's biography of Monckton Milnes?...Let me grab that book on Victorian politics...There's the second volume of Longford's biography of Wellington...Do I already have the second or the first volume?...Oh, well, for $10 I can afford to take a risk...I could use that Retha Warnicke biography for my project on Anne Boleyn...Yeah, but it's Anne Boleyn, for crying out loud, you'll never use the book again once you're done with the article...Just how many copies of Blake's Disraeli can one used bookstore have, anyway?...Beaty on the Middlemarch notebooks looks useful...How about Sperry on Keats?...Er, there's no price here...Hamer, Longford, and Beaty it is.
The Guardian is on a roll when it comes to writing about biography. First David McKie, and now Fiona MacCarthy. I sometimes suspect that it may be convenient for all concerned that most of the novelists I write about appear to have vanished off the face of the planet. Then again, there was a certain entertainment value in discovering that one novelist (the author of this book) was, shall we say, not quite above board, as per the evidence in his Royal Literary Fund file. (The friend who first looked at the record for me was really quite delighted, which is, no doubt, not the charitable reaction--although, come to think of it, after suffering through two of that novelist's books, it was my reaction as well.)