Happy New Year, first and foremost.
I have always disliked going out on New Year’s Eve as the pubs would be crowded and it would generally be a nightmare. Plus, being habitually single, until I met my wife, I would be the only one without a partner and that was never fun.
Anyway, I took some time off over the festive period and this has done me good. I have been thinking about how people with an Asperger’s or Autism diagnosis have a “thing”. That is one particular subject that they have an encyclopaedic knowledge about. Usually this subject is very esoteric, very idiosyncratic and it becomes a driving passion for the person. The examples that the websites that deal with sort of thing give are normally things like: planes, trains and statistics. People with autism will talk about these things at length and usually passed the point of boredom of the person they are speaking at.
As I said in a previous blog, I do not think that I have any over-riding passions. Many years ago I was told that I become fascinated with something for two weeks and then give it up. And there is some truth to that. My bookshelf includes many different topics because I will be interested in, for example, the Napoleonic era and buy a biography of the man, a book on Redcoats and an overview of the war. I will read them but how much of it do I retain, absorb and learn? I am not sure.
One constant interest for me has been English Literature. After all it was what I did my undergraduate degree in, the subject of my Master’s degree and why I became an English teacher. That I don’t currently teach English Lit in my current job is one of its downsides. I love how literature can connect people from different cultures, times and centuries. You can read Plato and understand the thinking of a man who has been dead for thousands of years or you can read a book from another culture and understand a new way of life and learn to see the world differently. Literature also gives people the ability to put across ideas and complex emotions in a way that can be understood and disseminated. It helps explain the world we live in and our role in it.
When I met my wife and told her what MA I was doing she thought I would know all about Shakespeare and have read all of his works. The fact that I hadn’t, and still haven’t, came as a surprise to her. With this is mind, this year I am going to read all of Shakespeare – each play, each poem and each sonnet. I have always loved the tragedies and not had much time for the comedies and think this may be rather closed minded of me.
For those that don’t know, have forgotten or don’t care Shakespearean plays fall into three main genres. These are Histories – subdivided into Roman and English – these deal with real historical events such as the reign of Henry V, the death of Ceaser and Richard III. Next are the Comedies, these deal with relationships, ideas of gender and normally end with a happy resolution. These include plays like All Well That Ends Well, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Finally, they are the Tragedies. These deal with themes such as death, jealousy, anger and end tragically. These include some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays and characters such as Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and King Lear.
The poems are longer narrative poems that I have never actually read fully. So that will be interesting, I think. Then they are the 150 plus sonnets, fourteen-line poems addressed to a lover and written to an almost exact metre.
After I have read one, I intend to put something up on here about it. This is not intended as an “autistic view of Shakespeare” but just for my own edification. It can also serve as an insight into either the obsessional side of ASD or the side of me that is into things for two weeks and then quits.
Finally, anything I say about the plays or the poems is not intended as definitive as they are far greater minds writing, talking and thinking about the works of Shakespeare than me.