18 March 2013: Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
Congee, Samuel Barber; rereading Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre as the next play in my Grand High Shakespeare Rereading.
I first smelt it out when I read Ted Hughes’ magisterial interpretation of all of Shakespeare, Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being..
Basically, the God was killed when Christ died: the Goddess was killed in the Protestant Reformation which so notoriously set its face against Marian worship and continues to do so today…allowing, in Latin America, no divinity to struggling mothers who are exhorted (sometimes at gunpoint) to find in “Jesus” what they need. “Jesus” becomes the handsome film star who gets the Hong Kong maid a check in a society, like that in which Pericles’ daughter must live, where we all must work or die. Marina is clever enough to find work teaching trivial topics such as language having had a “gentle” education.
I reflect at the contempt shown “English teachers” in Hong Kong despite the fact that I worked very hard to learn the trade, for example by working my way thru the Oxford Reference Grammar. In 2005 I thought I’d found a safe harbor from which I could pay my bills, be a respectable person. But teacher self-hatred did its dirty work.
Hughes raises the interesting, if probably undecidable, question of what Shakespeare did with his “lost years” of the 1580s. Did he reject the Goddess perhaps in favor of cashing-out his duties to Anne Hathaway in a manner that saved his face and conscience but which was all the same deeply wrong? And then did he realize in the early years of the 17th century that this would create, as does “Bawd” in Pericles, a free market in female sexuality? And did he then seek forgiveness having made a pile of money that would, precisely by being a pile of money, protect him and Hathaway until death from the ravages of the market?
I could base a series of talks on retirement planning on the late Shakespeare were it not for the fact that I’ve done so poorly at “retirement”, mostly just Falling Down into a situation (a hospital bed, three squares a day, social security once a mate and I get that squared away with the bank). But were I to do so, I would emphasize the role that forgiveness appeared to have played in Shakespeare’s retirement.