Quote of the Week: 16 April 2018 (#37)

The beard maketh the man, it seems …

BOTTOM:  What beard were I best to play it in?

QUINCE:  Why, what you will.

BOTTOM:  I will discharge it in either your straw colour beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow. [a]

Although The Guardian confidently proclaimed we’d reached ‘peak beard’ two years ago – in fact exactly two years ago today [b] – I stopped shaving before Christmas.  I’m far from a fashion victim: this was initially sheer laziness (I loathe shaving); now increasingly compounded by curiosity about exactly what I might grow.  After nearly thirty years of a more-or-less maintained goatee, I’ve gone wild.

It’s a work in progress (and had to survive a pre-Portugal pruning by She Who Must Be Obeyed), but I’ve ended up with a hybrid: think the hirsute love-child of Hemingway and Fidel Castro … the addition of a very disreputable cap during my Easter hols jolly to the Algarve has added, I like to think, a revolutionary aura to the whole thing.  Plus, some students have given it a name of its own, like a stray dog.  So, the beard is staying – for now.

Naturally, this started me thinking about beards and the Bard …

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Machiavelli: The Prince (review)

‘… men must be either pampered or crushed …’

BH the prince 9780141912004Niccolò Machiavelli:  The Prince, (transl. George Bull, ed. Anthony Grafton), (Penguin Classics: London, 2003).  e-book ISBN: 9780141912004 (£2.99)

– – –

Niccolò Machiavelli … the name has a seductive musicality, like all the Devil’s best tunes, and in Italian, ‘Il Principe’ uncoils like a snake, before hissing and then biting. This, his most famous work, has insinuated its way into our psyche until ‘Machiavellian’ has become part of a sinister cabal of authorial-adjectives including ‘Orwellian‘, ‘Lovecraftian’ and ‘Kafkaesque‘.  Yet how many people appreciate its true meaning, having read ‘The Prince’?  Is its reputation merited?  Is it a useful, topical read, or a dusty, centuries-old curiosity?

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PTS 11/065: Stop being such a Dick, Richard!

‘On Brexit, and Ignoring the Advice of Uncles’, as Montaigne might have written …

 

King Richard II

PTS read-through:  Richard II, act II

Richard II plays against the backdrop of an enormous cosmic clockface.  Our poetic but ineffective, spiteful monarch ends act I cynically hoping to arrive too late; he begins act II suffering the consequences of being early, getting an earful from his uncle.

What Richard does miss, though, is Uncle Gaunt’s remarkable crie de couer on the state of the nation.  It’s an interesting, beautiful swansong, the breathless anaphora creating a crescendo of patriotic fervour – but I have three issues with it.

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NOT reinventing the wheel after all …

I’ll find it, YOU read it …

BH pig reading

It’s not long since I updated The Boar’s Head Bookshelf, and mooted the idea of doing something different, more useful with it: ‘useful‘ being defined as:

  • up to date;
  • accurate;
  • easier to search through; and
  • helpful in signposting, NOT gatekeeping or showing off – especially for students, taking some of the leg-work out of their research

So …

[drum roll]

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Quote of the Week: 26 March 2018 (#34)

The long road to the civil war begins here …

BH Richard II 86536
Photo by me:  taken at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, 2014

This week’s quotation is from:  Charles R. Forker, ‘Introduction’, in William Shakespeare, Richard II (Arden Third Edition), (Thomson Learning:  London, 2002)

A recent Reddit thread discussed the extent to which the History plays critiqued the monarchy.  To be honest, I didn’t want to get involved, because it looked like a straight request for homework help, and yet, it was hard to resist such a fascinating subject …

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Quote of the Week: 19 March 2018 (#33)

Sometimes we need to be reminded that our historical figures are human beings.

BH elizabeth armada portrait
‘The Armada Portrait’

This week’s quotation is taken from Garrett Mattingly, The Defeat of the Spanish Armada (ed. J.H. Elliott), (The Folio Society:  London, 2002)

– – –

This is just a humble tavern, and we’ve no real pretensions to royal patronage.  Prince Hal, of course is a regular, but he doesn’t behave very … ahem … regally, when he’s here, Lor’ bless and keep him.

But like every good English ale-house, we do have a portrait of Good Queen Bess behind the bar, and it’s this one.  This week, I’ve been thinking about Elizabeth I

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Hapus Dydd Dewi Sant, look you!

Just how authentic are Shakespeare’s Welsh characters?

BH fluellen leek

‘if you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek’ [1]

Wales is my second home: my girlfriend is Welsh.  I lived there for a while, and visit frequently.  It’s a place I’ve come to know reasonably well, and to like very much.  One of the highlights of each year is watching the England vs Wales rugby union match – you simply haven’t tasted real passion and love of country until you’ve watched it on a big screen in a packed pub in North Wales (avoid wearing white, if you can).  They have a national anthem that genuinely moves me every time I hear it: inexplicably visceral and patriotic in a way that ‘God Save The Queen’ can never, ever be.  Take 90 seconds out of your life to watch this, below:

All this love doesn’t stop me from massively enjoying any opportunity to ‘mock the leek‘, but in an affectionate way …

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