[book review] Dan Jones: The Hollow Crown

jones book coverDan Jones, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors, (London: Faber & Faber, 2015)

Dan Jones’ muscular account begins with Catherine de Valois’ marriage to Henry V in 1420, and ends in 1541, with the brutal execution of Margaret Pole (at 67) by Henry VIII; the final remnant of the Plantagenet dynasty to be mopped up by the Tudors.

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QotW (#85) 12 August 2019

shakespeare map

Particularly when teaching writing, I’ve often compared a text to a map.  My thoughts generally run like this:

When your reader lands on a fresh page of prose, they haven’t got a clue what landscape they are standing on; it’s up to us as writers to orientate them, and our language forms the contour lines and the key to the world we are mapping out for them.  We have to make careful decisions about what and how much to show – how far they can see; how quickly they can recognise signs, symbols and the direction of travel.  We need to contextualise what they’re reading, even if that is the relationship between this page and the previous one, or this paragraph and the one before it, because context is key to avoiding the dizzy nausea that can turn a reader off.

Conversely, when teaching close reading, it’s all very well spotting WHAT a writer is trying to do.  By the time pupils hit KS3 at Y7 they can all spot a simile: a symbol on the map.  But how many students, even when we get up to the heights of Y13 can really read the map, talk about WHY the simile was employed; WHY that particular comparison was chosen?

Context, in it’s broader sense, is everything

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[book review] Anthony Burgess: A Dead Man in Deptford

burgess dead man cover

I’ve been known to use A Clockwork Orange as a way of accessing Shakespeare: if you can decipher Burgess’s prose in that, my reasoning goes, Shakespeare should hold few terrors for you – simply apply the same skills.  That’s a dazzling novel.  So I approached A Dead Man in Deptford with some excitement and expectation, stoked by one of the most visually arresting book covers I’ve seen in years.

I wasn’t disappointed.

 

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Trilogy Day at The Globe: 03 Aug 2019

img_0570
All the world’s a stage.  Image: me

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named (Henry V: IV,iii)

IF their legs are still working, that is.  Shakespeare’s Globe staged three plays last Saturday, and a ‘happy few‘ of us bought groundling tickets for the trilogy.  Here’s how I got on. [spoilers ahead]

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PTS 015/094: Zap!

PTS readthrough: 1 Henry IV, II, iv

‘As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods.

They kill us for their sport.’ (King Lear, IV.i), [a]

In Nick Hornby’s terrific ‘High Fidelity, the music-obsessed narrator, owner of a record store, is asked to name his favourite songs by a pretty, young journalist type. [b] He has an embarrassing meltdown. Stumbling out a few choices, he resorts to contacting her several times afterwards, with constant revisions to his ultimate ‘best of’ list, until he realises he’s practically stalking her …

That’s me, asked to identify my favourite scenes.

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Forensic Friday #018: 1HIV II.iv

Play Extempore

If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work (I.ii)

Erm … no!

Prince Hal is one of those annoying, frankly very boring people who simply don’t have sufficient imagination to have hobbies. The ones who pine away six months into hard-earned retirement, or keep coming into work after you thought you’d finally got rid of them, to ‘keep their hand in, and check the youngsters haven’t stuffed it up yet.’ AND they no longer contribute towards the coffee fund!

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PTS 015/093: Man-Crush alert!

Hotspur Kate
Joe Armstrong and Michelle Dockery

PTS read-through:  1 Henry 4 Act II, scene iii

How can anyone, male or female, gay or straight, NOT fall for Harry Hotspur?

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