Kent Cartwright, ‘Introduction’ to William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (Arden Third Edition), (Bloomsbury Publishing: London, 2017)
Her: [hefting my Arden Third copy of Richard II in her hand] ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit heavy to take on holiday?’
Me: [defensively] ‘It’s as heavy as it needs to be. That’s why you pay more for the Ardens. And anyway, that’s the text I’m writing about at the moment.’
Her: ‘But we’re going away. You can access the play online.’ [statement, not a question]
Me: That’s not the same!
Her: [giving a silent ‘look’ and the merest suggestion of a shrug with one shoulder]
You probably know that look …
If, as I perhaps I alluded to last week, I am the one who likes to believe he has poetry in his soul (ground down by the demands of life), she is the pragmatic one. It’s probably why we work well together.
Me, Richard II; She, Bolinbroke.
Me, Hotspur; She, Hal.
Me, Henry VI; She Margaret of Anjou.
Me, Macbeth: She, Lady Macbeth. (don’t tell her that one)
After a period of ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing‘, the Arden stayed at home. My ‘dearest partner of greatness‘ has successfully ‘poured her spirits in mine ear‘. The only way I could have brought Richard with me would have been to smuggle it into my case, risking the inevitable scorn that would accompany my suddenly flourishing it like a rabbit out of a hat.
Yes. I know. It’s only a week or so, It’s a holiday. Surely, I ought to be too busy enjoying quality time to blog. I also know very well that I can access the full text at the rather brilliant www.opensourceshakespeare.org if I want/need to.
But, it’s NOT the same. In indescribable ways that go beyond not being able to look at the glossing, or my own marginalia.
Or, actually, being in my own place. Despite living in what might charitably be called chaos, I know where the important stuff is (which completely contradicts this post, I’m aware), and every post is informed – more or less – by everything I read or have read. Sometimes, I’ll go to the main room, flick through a couple of books and replace them, finding that even in re-considering and rejecting what someone has said, my own ideas have clarified. As Tennyson would say:
I am a part of all that I have met
Anyway, it’s about comfort, right? This is the Kent Cartwright quotation that sprung to mind.
If identity is attached tightly to one’s property, then being severed from it incomprehensively from it can bring rage and near-madness.
He was, of course, talking about the travails of Antipholus of Ephesus. Perhaps I ought to take more account of the adverb ‘incomprehensively’. I know why I’m here, and why I am severed from my physical library. But for most of the year, I am tightly wedded to my stuff – perhaps more so in terms of books because I have moved house so often over the last decade or so – and it is disconcerting to find myself unable to access them, in the way that others might hate being without social media, perhaps.
Did I find out anything interesting about Shakespeare and Portugal before I came over?
Via the wonders of the internet (Bradshaw and Bishop (eds.) The Shakespearean International Yearbook, Volume 8: Special Section, European Shakespeare, (Routledge 2008)), I did learn that the first plays to be directly translated from English (not French) to Portuguese were:
- Merchant of Venice
- Richard III; and
King Luiz I apparently translated these himself (around the 1880s-90s) with an eye on their ‘topicality’. Interesting. Maybe when I get back, I’ll investigate further …
For the moment, this is where you’ll find me. Minus my copy of Richard II …