Quote of the Week: 09 April 2018 (#36)

We all have something we can’t part with when we go abroad, surely?

BH suitcase-full-of-books

Kent Cartwright, ‘Introduction’ to William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (Arden Third Edition), (Bloomsbury Publishing:  London, 2017)

Her:  [hefting my Arden Third copy of Richard II in her hand] ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit heavy to take on holiday?’

Me:  [defensively] ‘It’s as heavy as it needs to be.  That’s why you pay more for the Ardens.  And anyway, that’s the text I’m writing about at the moment.’

Her:  ‘But we’re going away.  You can access the play online.’  [statement, not a question]

Me:  That’s not the same!

Her:  [giving a silent ‘look’ and the merest suggestion of a shrug with one shoulder]

You probably know that look …

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Quote of the Week: 02 April 2018 (#35)

Bogdanov (and Shakespeare) on the corrosive effects of real life on the soul …

BH bogdanov directors cut coverMichael Bogdanov, ‘Richard II: The skipping King’, in Shakespeare : The Director’s Cut (Capercaillie Books:  Edinburgh, 2005)

I picked this startling book up from Waterstones in Gower Street, London on Saturday – remaindered at a measly £5-99.  Scuffed but basically sound, it seemed destined for the upper slopes of my ever-growing Mount Tsundoku – about which I’m bound to post at some stage, recently becoming familiar with the term.

Either way, as I often do with new Shakespeare-related books, I ambled through the Introduction.  Not properly knowing who Bogdanov was in truth, I wanted a sense of who I’d invited to share my bookshelves.  I’m at my parents’, and despite the TV blaring at a volume only a practically-deaf father can justify, I became completely immersed.

Bogdanov died almost a year ago, at 78 (a little older than my father is).  If we’d been contemporaries, and moved in similar circles, I reckon we would have been drinking buddies …

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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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The 2018 Shakespeare Top 10

Forget the Oscars, here are some winners that REALLY matter to me …

BH Ardens
Not – quite – my collection of Ardens … soon, soon!

We HATE lists, don’t we?

Except, actually we bloody love them, if it’s something we’re interested in.

No, really.

That said, the last thing we want is a list that agrees with our perceptions – the dopamine rush of validation is very short-lived compared to the opportunity to passionately argue our disagreement.  We LOVE subjective opinions.  Trust me – my wonderfully fulfilling University years were full of essays arguing the toss – why, for example:

  • Dracula should not be judged for his ‘special dietary requirements’, whereas Van Helsing and his bunch are vindictive bastards;
  • we ought to respect Edward Hyde for his refreshing honesty, as opposed to Henry Jekyll‘s hypocrisy; or
  • Ursula K. Le Guin’s (RIP) The Left Hand of Darkness, whilst a superb book, had no place in the Science Fiction module

You get the picture:  English Lit is a tailor-made subject for those who are argumentative and prepared to do the spadework to back-up their cockiness …

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Quote of the Week: 19 February 2018 (#29)

“Is black so base a hue?” Aaron, Titus Andronicus, Act IV scene ii …

BH devils-witches-dance
– back cover of Scott’s book –

AF Scott, Witch, Spirit, Devil, (White Lion Publishing:  London, 1974)

Whilst Black History Month isn’t celebrated in the UK until October, this is a bit of an international blog: about half of you are visitors from the US, and another quarter or so from elsewhere outside the UK – thank you, by the way!

So now, whilst I’m reading Scott’s book, feels like the time to look at this …

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Quote of the Week: 12 February 2018 (#28)

Should we pay more attention to James I before he became King of England?

BH cogwell james i

Thomas Cogswell, James 1:  The Phoenix King (Penguin Monarchs series), (Allen Lane:  London, 2017)

Studying or teaching Shakespeare’s plays, the figure of Elizabeth looms in the background, like the spectre at the feast.

We see it in the ever-present censorship, in the light of the Treasons Acts in 1571 and 1581, outlawing public discussion of the succession.  Or, more positively, in the ‘Gloriana’ cult that produced works like Spenser‘s The Faerie Queen, and flattering nods to Elizabeth wherever you look – like links between her and Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  We see it in her discomfort with comparisons to Richard II, and the propagandic lionization of Henry VII.

Reading Cogswell‘s short, sympathetic biography has made me reassess the extent to which we / I ignore James until the succession question becomes absolutely critical.

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 12 February 2018 (#28)”