Award Winning Fantasy with a Twist!
The last week of September is an important celebration for everybody because that’s when we take a closer look at what ‘freedom to read’ means. Even those who ‘don’t like to read’ have a stake because censorship impacts not only what we think, but how we express ourselves.
I run into students who ‘don’t like to read’ all the time, who don’t recognize they read constantly – on their phones, on the internet, magazines, articles, reviews, recommendations, etc. What they mean is they weren’t crazy about the literature they were exposed to in high school. Which is a shame. Because once you learn to talk like a pirate, Shakespeare is funny as hell.
Shakespeare was no stranger to censorship. In his day, playwrights needed the approval of the Master of Revels, particularly if they wanted to play at court. Naturally, this requirement led to politically correct plays, politically correct as in not offending the current monarch. Elizabeth I’s 1559 proclamation forbid plays with “either matters of religion or of the governance of the estate of the common weal.” Shakespeare’s Richard II had to delete scenes of Richard’s deposition in case the idea of rebellion took hold.
Profanity in Shakespeare became a particular concern in by the end of the 1800s. Thomas Bowdler went to great lengths to remove “every thing that could give just offence to the religious and virtuous mind.” From him, we get the word bowdlerize, meaning to remove potentially offensive to the point of ruining the original, but Thomas was not the only one.
Recently, a story went around the news outlets, saying that Arizona banned Shakespeare’s The Tempest to avoid “biased, political and emotionally charged” teaching.
The whole story is that books, including The Tempest, were moved to the district storage facility because Mexican-American studies had been suspended due to concerns about being disruptive.
Is this a case of poor reporting? Does this make the whole story a tempest in a teapot? 😂 Well, no. If you don’t discuss the Mexican American experience, then you might avoid any immediate disagreement, but you’re shutting out the experience of a large part of the community from the current considerations of politics, social issues, all the daily choices made in that community.
It’s scary to bring up a controversial perspective. I really struggled to discuss race in my classroom, but how else was I going to discuss coverage of police shootings? What kind of journalism would I be teaching if I skirted the issues? I argue that it’s actually better to facilitate and promote the discussion where it can flow freely. Is it so bad to read a play about fairies and magic and a rebellion on the part of the slaves Caliban and Ariel, not to mention overthrowing a corrupt government?
So to encourage the reading of Shakespeare, and because I just enjoyed building on his work, I’m giving away 3 print copies of my book, RESTLESS SPIRITS. This ghost story / fantasy borrows heavily from The Tempest for its back ground as well as the Tam Lin legend, all with a comedic twist. It’s perfect entertainment for the dark time of year when the nights get longer and the temperatures start to chill!