Mary Beard Julius Caesar William Shakespeare I, Claudius Robert GravesWar Music Christopher LogueThe World’s Wife Carol Ann Duffy Like everyone who might have control over the GCSE syllabus, I have an axe to grind. Mine is to bring in the classical world by the back door, via some great works of English literature. Julius Caesar offers a glimpse of raw political opposition, as well as the treachery of high-flown rhetoric. Graves takes us to a great ancient narrative of corruption (with the possibility of comparing it with the TV series). Logue shows the power of Homer even now. But you need to read Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry to see that you can contest that classical tradition. What did King Midas’ wife do, she asks. There’s an important counternarrative here. Of course, my own choices show exactly how dangerous it is to let an ideologue have control of the syllabus. William Boyd Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson James Boswell My Life: Story of a Provincial Anton Chekhov The Ballad of Peckham Rye Muriel Spark My three choices – one each from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries – are expressly designed to be doors giving on to other doors… Read full this story
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