Sure, it’s only a week away from school, and I ought to be able to control myself. Many of you will also have a handle on the state of my bookshelves – I have no space for these, and yet. Half-terms are an opportunity to catch breath in more ways than one.
Some would suggest I oughtn’t to have bought anything; I like to think of this as a fairly restrained Book Haul, all sourced from the second hand bookshop about 300 yards from ‘her place’. So, what and why …
RW Church, Bacon (Englishmen of Letters series), (MacMillan & Co: London, 1902) I hate to admit that this, and the volume on Tennyson, below, were part of a forty-odd volume shelf. First thoughts? Guilt at breaking a series. Second thoughts? The realisation that I couldn’t buy them all. Third thoughts? Doubts about whether they were a complete series as I looked at them. This one, at least, appears a straight biography without any suggestion that Bacon was Shakespeare in disguise. For that very same reason, I have resisted the pull of another Bacon biography that has been sitting on the shelves at this shop for months.
William Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity (Peregrin Books: London, 1961) – this is a reprint of Empson’s 1930 work, referred to by Jonathan Bate in The Genius of Shakespeare. Despite the strange beard, he appears to be a man after my own heart when it comes to discussing pun, metaphor, simile and imagery in general, so I am genuinely excited to read what he has to say on the subject
Sir Alfred Lyall, Alfred Tennyson (Englishmen of Letters series), (MacMillan & Co: London, 1902) Some of my misgivings about buying this relate to the work by RW Church above. That said, I teach Tennyson’s ‘Maud’ alongside Marlowe‘s Edward II, and students are asked to compare the texts. This is far easier than you think, if you know the texts and the authors. Yet Tennyson isn’t, I think, a fashionable poet (though he is a great one), and I need to pick up contextual information wherever I can: it’s worth 50% of the students’ eventual mark in this section of their A Level.
Ian Mortimer, The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King (Vintage: London, 2008) regular visitors know that I have a complex relationship with the ‘king of smiles’ and his predecessor, Richard II. If the Ponytail Shakespeare project has taught me something so far, it is an appreciation of the two tetalogies that outweighs any fondness for the Comedies and almost challenges the Tragedies. Having done a lot of reading round the real Richard III, I’m looking forward to getting closer to Bolinbroke.
Sir Philip Sidney, A Defence of Poetry (ed. JA Van Dorsten), (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1978) Sure, this is the sort of thing that might be downloaded for free via Gutenberg.org or similar, given it was first published around 1595. I have two things to say about this: firstly, I want the Introduction and any notes; secondly, some texts read better in the hand than on the screen, and personally, that includes all EMP texts.
All this, plus just a single DVD – a remastered copy of Fritz Lang‘s Metropolis (1927), for a forthcoming sixth form cinema night. Actually, although it plays to my other love – Science Fiction – I’m almost curious to see if I can find anything Shakespearean in the film – if I do, expect an update.
The best part of the haul is that I spent under £20 all told. There’s no way I will better than come the Christmas break in eight weeks’ time …