PTS 02/009: England – A Nest of Hollow Bosoms

BH HVI II Eleanor and Margaret
This country ain’t big enough for the two of us … bitch!

 

What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,

Were all thy children kind and natural!

But see,thy fault France hath in thee found out,

A nest of hollow bosoms.  (CHORUS, Henry V:  II.0.18-21)

Henry VI II:  Act I

It’s a strange thing, patriotism. 

I’ll try to make this the final time I mention how I don’t feel especially patriotic towards England as opposed to Britain, but the beginning of the play causes me to examine my attitudes again.  It probably says something about my pedantic nature that I can’t simply conflate the two.  Or maybe it’s simply the fact that my Welsh girlfriend would probably dump me!  Either way, I suddenly became acutely aware of an inchoate fear for the country.  Ye-e-es, there was some fear for Henry, about to be eaten alive by his Queen like a hapless spider, but the sympathy I felt for Henry as a child effectively evaporated in the white heat of his ineffectuality.  It facilitated of the betrayal of my new Shakespearean heroes, the Talbots, and so isn’t easily forgiven or forgotten.  So it wasn’t what Margaret might or might not do to Henry that worried me.  It was how she might treat England

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PTS 01/007: HVI (1) farewell …

bh-hvi-1-david-nordahl
Image:  David Nordahl

I wanted to reflect on the play as a whole, looking back to my ‘Expectations’ back at the end of January.

Good literature is like a magic trick.  It makes you believe you are in a different time and place, and care for characters who are constructs, and react to their (also fictitious) actions as if you were a participant. 

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PTS01/005: Where’s a night-tripping fairy when you need one?

bh-talbot-in-battleO, that it could be proved

That some night-tripping fair had exchanged

In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,

(KING HENRY IV:  Henry IV 1, I.i.85-87)

Henry VI 1:  Act IV

Talk about someone having ‘greatness thrust upon them’!

O, Henry, Henry, Henry … Continue reading “PTS01/005: Where’s a night-tripping fairy when you need one?”

Exit, pursued by Redditors

bh-all-wrapped-up
Reddit’s not ALWAYS like wearing this to the zoo …

I find it interesting that many students are aghast when I tell them that whilst I don’t do Facebook, I DO spend some time on Reddit.

Usually, it’s the more sensible ones who register the most shock.  It’s not the horror of having someone as old as their dad (increasingly I seem to be older, actually), trying to be ‘down with the kids’ – they seem more worried that I’m entering the big cat enclosure in the zoo wearing one of those outfits that seem to be made entirely of slices of bacon …

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Henry V, War Criminal?

bh-cover-henry-v-war-criminal ‘… like Olivier, Branagh ducked what is the most contentious element in the play for British audiences, namely Henry’s apparently criminal massacre of his helpless French prisoners …’

John Sutherland

 

 

I bought this book, which arrived today, on the strength of the fun I had with another of John Sutherland’s: ‘Is Heathcliffe a Murderer?  Puzzles in 19th-Century Fiction.’

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Ever felt that someone wasn’t paying attention?

joe-armstrong

Farewell, kinsman. I’ll talk to you
When you are better tempered to attend.
Shakespeare – as ever – is able to pin that frustration down more adeptly than anyone!  One of the best things about studying – or teaching – literature is that great writers can express your feelings better than you can.  Simple as.  And it is comforting to feel that other people have been in the same position as you have, it really is …

 

I finished off the day with a brief, but heated, conversation with someone who I felt was not giving me an opportunity to defend or explain myself.  It was all very accusatory.  They asked me a few peremptory questions, barked a little, a lot actually – quite like a dog who wanted to feel they’d made their presence felt when the postman arrives – and I retreated from the situation, as it seemed pointless to hang around.  Like that postman, I was irritated, but a tiresome yappy dog isn’t going to spoil the rest of my day …

Continue reading “Ever felt that someone wasn’t paying attention?”