Teacher Man


  • Frank McCourt




I went to O'Mahony's Bookshop to buy the first book in my life, the one I brought to America in the suitcase. It was The Works of William Shakespeare: Gathered into One Volume, published by the Shakespeare Head Press, Oldhams Press Ltd. and Basil Blackwood, MCMXLVII. Here it is, cover crumbling, separating from the book, hanging on through the kindness of tape. A well-thumbed book, well marked. There are passages underlined that once meant something to me though I look at them now and hardly know why. Along the margins notes, remarks, appreciative comments, congratulations to Shakespeare on his genius, exclamation marks indicating my appreciation and befuddlement. Inside the cover I wrote, 'Oh, that this too, too solid flesh, etc.' It proves I was a gloomy youth. When I was thirteen/fourteen I listened to Shakespeare plays on the radio of Mrs. Purcell, the blind woman next door. She told me Sheakespeare was an Irishman ashamed of what he came from. A fuse blew the night we listened to Julius Caesar and I was so eager to find out what happened to Brutus and Mark Antony I went to O'Mahony's Bookshop to get the rest of the story. A sales clerk ...






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