Peter Saccio, Shakespeare’s English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2000)
One of the biggest problems with being on holiday with non-reading friends is that you become embarrassed by the amount of time you want, no NEED, to spend in bookshops.
So this was a book I could easily have missed whilst browsing a second-hand bookshop in Leominster. I was really lucky to have my other half on hand to find it out for me, because time was running out, and I was beginning to worry about the patience of the friends we were holidaying with, who had already politely wandered round the shop and were now at the ‘waiting outside for you‘ stage ….
Thus far, I feel like I’ve been quite objective about the play, glossing over the obvious errors about travelling by boat between land-locked cities, etc. I’m not one to lionise Shakespeare (whatever my other half thinks), but nor am I interested in joining the current fad I see online for ‘dissing’ him.
Having said that, Act IV begins with a ‘mote to trouble the mind’s eye‘, though – and more on it later, but Act V trumps even this episode. What am I talking about?
Spending practically all of the summer holidays away from home, you’d think I travelled loaded with books?
Not a bit of it – I simply brought down my Ponytail Shakespeare texts, so I could try to catch up on writing about the read-through. Plus, experience told me that I’d be buying books wherever I went. Shakespeare’s an exacting master, and wherever I go I usually end up returning to Cumbria laden like a donkey.
Arlene Okerlund, Elizabeth Wydville: The Slandered Queen (Tempus Publishing: Stroud, 2005)
Proof that even a stopped clock can occasionally be correct …
A book review of Professor Okerlund‘s book may well be in the offing – on the basis that, as I often tell students) it’s easier to write about something you don’t like, rather than something you do. This book really annoyed me as few others have, but I managed to get to the end of it.
Recently, I wrote about bringing your personal baggage to your interpretation and enjoyment of texts. It’s why I re-read: every few years I genuinely believe I approach a text as a different person, changed in infinite, indescribable ways by my experiences.
This is my first time with the Two Gentlemen, though, and I approached this text with some trepidation. It has a reputation – despite being the first play performed at the newly-built Globe – and Dennis Carey‘s reaction on being asked to direct the play was not reassuring:
“I had only just read the play, and was badly shaken. Could the author really be grateful to anyone for preserving this youthful, unfinished, minor exercise?”
David Riggs: The World of Christopher Marlowe(Faber and Faber: London, 2004)
If you squint, you’ll see that this was one of the books I bought as retail therapy a short while back. I tackled this one first owing to my commitments to teach Edward II again this coming school year – I was hoping to get a few additional nuggets about Marlowe‘s private life.
The book has turned out to be an absolute revelation …