Secondary Sources

As mentioned earlier, I’m a graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis where books form the curriculum and discussion is the heart and soul of the program.

While I won’t require a “Mr.” or “Ms.” to precede each comment, I will attempt as much as possible to read each work independently of the massive Shakespeare cottage industry that exists around him.

For those not familar with St. John’s, this might seem like willful ignorance. Why would anybody reinvent the wheel? The short answer: to think for ourselves. It’s an expression of faith in the text and in each other… Besisdes, the secondary marketplace of ideas is not going anywhere. It’s as close as a mouseclick away.

That said, I’m not shying away from the amazing scholarship that’s been done. I simply realize that I have to be selective in my choices or I risk becoming overwhelmed. I might legitmately ask myself what indeed I’m doing here, since so many better minds have completed the journey and offered far more to the world than I.

At the top of the mounting stack of books that I can’t wait to read has to be this: Peter Ackroyd’s stunning biography. I say stunning even though I haven’t read it yet because I picked it up at Barnes and Noble and literally couldn’t put it down.

It was one of those bookish adventures where you clean out the shelf of relevant material and carry it to the cafe to sort through. From an initial mountain of a dozen titles, I fereted the choices down to six, then three… but it became evident that this one title would be the one.

I love the texture of the pages… the text, the illustrations, and the premise: a biography of a man we know so little about sounds like an oxymoron, a fool’s undertaking. How could Ackroyd possibly pull it off?

The unstoppable force vs. the immovable object. Perfect!

As the days dwindle between now and the 1st, I’m rounding out my syllabus. Thirty-seven plays in fifty-two weeks sounds doable in theory. I’m also including the sonnets and the poems.

Some of this may change on the fly. But pre-launch, my enthusiasm continues to grow.


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