[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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PTS 015/091: The Man of a Thousand Faces

lon chaney
Lon Chaney jr trailblazes Bilbo Baggins, Sherlock Holmes, Pennywise, and Forrest Gump

1 Henry IV Act I scene ii is, really, all about that devastating soliloquy in which Hal channels Lon Chaney jr.

But before that, I want to have a word about … EXPOSITION.

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PTS 015/090: Crusade My Arse

henry iv jeremy irons

1 Henry IV:  Act I, scene i

It’s almost impossible to check in my earlier hostility to Henry Bolinbroke at the door; I take grim satisfaction at the suggestion that he’s ‘shaken’, or ‘wan with care’ as the play opens. [a]  He deserves it.

Not that I believe him …

Actually, looking back, I promised to crucify you (Henry) at the end of Richard II … OK, here goes.

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QotW (#79): 17 June 2019

father and son

Like so many annual festivals, Father’s Day is, I suppose, all about perspective.  It certainly has a different resonance now I am a father myself, and with my eldest son getting married soon, there might come a time when it means something else entirely …

A little research suggests that the secular celebration is less than a century old in the US (far after Mother’s Day was established, incidentally), and only common in the UK after the Second World War!  That said, Catholics have been commemorating the Virgin Mary’s husband, St Joseph, since before Shakespeare’s day.  And of course, we shouldn’t forget the fifth of the Ten Commandments: ‘Honour thy father and mother‘.

Rather than write something mawkish about the way I am turning into my dad, or about my sons, I wanted to think about fathers in the 16th Century …

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Our revels now are ended … Class of ’19

boat sunset

Occasionally, teacher good luck messages and the valedictories get a bit mawkish or twee (and wearing my heart on my sleeve, I’m probably as guilty of this as others).  That said, I still want to write one for my Y13s.

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QotW (#77): 20 May 2019

elizabeth essex film poster

When you teach Richard III you almost inevitably touch on the idea that ‘history is written by the winners’, as Orwell said in 1944 (and again, of course, so horrifically in Nineteen Eighty-Four). [a]

Who were victorious over Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex in the end?  Would he have recognised the history they wrote for him?

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QotW#76: 13 May 2019

bird fights snake
“… though she be but little, she is fierce”  A Midsummer Night’s Dream (III,ii)

Poor Isabella.

Not just married to Edward II.  Not simply denounced by history as the ‘She Wolf of France‘.  As if all that wasn’t enough, she was relegated to a footnote in last week‘s QotW.

It’s her turn.  Be afraid.

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