Thursday, August 31, 2006

The president's reading list

I want to say mean things. But then, I always do.

Here's the video of our beloved president talking about his recent reading. (I first saw the link on Shaksper. Hardy Cook, the editor, has created an amazing resource.)

When he says he's read "three Shakespeares" do you want to ask which sonnets? Or do you want to know if he makes a distinction between passing his eyes over words and comprehending? Do you want to ask if he makes connections between what he reads and the policies he supports and promotes?

If I could ask the president to read (and think about, preferably with some decent discussion) three of Shakespeare's works, which would they be? And why?

Measure for Measure - why? Ask him to think about pre-marital sex more seriously, and the ways sexual practices have meaning for us. Ask him to think about babies born to poverty, or babies born who's mothers don't want them or can't take adequate care of them. Ask him to think about what it means to release Barnardine even though he's unrepentant (maybe we can send Deb Shuger to talk to him?). Ask him to think about the responsibility of the Duke even when he's absent. Ask him to think about the soldiers at the beginning and why they're worried.

1 Henry IV or Henry V - why? Ask him to think about how much his behavior and policies relate to his father's. Ask him to think about the advisors he's chosen, and about his appointments. Ask him to think about the justifications people use for war. Ask him to think about how war affects the people on the battlefield, and what the government owes, and how we convince people to fight in wars.

I'll have to think longer about the third text. What do you folks think?


  1. I have to say that I thought saying that he'd read "three Shakespeares" was the most asinine-sounding thing I'd ever heard. Call me a snotty academic, but that's what I thought. Anyway, I really like the Henry IV/V suggestion (though I suspect he'd come away from Henry V with even more of a belief that war is glorious...!).

  2. Anonymous3:29 PM

    How about Midsummer Night's Dream, so he can find out the positive things a real ass can accomplish?

  3. LOL, I like the MSND idea!

    The man just scares me. Well, and other things.