First, let me tell you about Ruth. I met her last summer at the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching. But she isn't a high school English teacher: she teaches fifth grade, and has taught elementary school for many, many years. Ruth is old enough to retire, but it's hard to imagine that she's ready to do so. She is one of the most excited and committed teachers I've ever met; and she does funny things, like invite bikers to her classroom and then ride off with them on a motorcycle as a way to open her students' eyes to the varieties of interesting people in this world. Ruth is also a singer, with an otherworldly voice reminiscent of Sacred Harp singers or the Carter Family. As a reader, her intensity and curiosity is infectious: she is so eager to be infatuated with words. Her students must love her.And now let me tell you about Paul. Paul is my 12-year-old son. He is a 6th grader at Harmony Elementary School and loves history and fantasy novels and sports and playing keyboard in a rock band. You might think that, since he's my son, I must have browbeat him into keeping up with this project. But no: in addition to his other devotions, he loves Shakespeare. We frequently watch DVDs of various plays, and he is always excited by them. Meanwhile, my other son could care less. Reading A Winter's Tale has thrilled Paul. On weekends, he's liable to stick his head around a corner and say to me in a come-hither voice, "Time for Shakespeare?" It is an honor to be his mother.
Ruth and Paul have never met each other. But they've been the backbone of this conversation about Shakespeare, and I think that's an accomplishment.
Now on to another subject (sort of): here's a link to Scott Hill's blog, where he sweetly mentions my rereading memoir in the course of writing his own brief rereading memoir about George Eliot. I think that Scott ran out of time to keep up with A Winter's Tale because he was too busy keeping up with A Mill on the Floss. I would be the last person to complain about such a distraction.