‘On Brexit, and Ignoring the Advice of Uncles’, as Montaigne might have written …
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.
Bogdanov (and Shakespeare) on the corrosive effects of real life on the soul …
Michael 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 …
Sometimes we need to be reminded that our historical figures are human beings.
This week’s quotation is taken from Garrett Mattingly, The Defeat of the Spanish Armada(ed. J.H. Elliott), (The Folio Society: London, 2002)
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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 …
Almost nothing seems to have changed in 400 years … as usual …
subtitled, ‘Food for powder‘
Matthew Beaumont: Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London (London: Verso Books, 2015)
My recent article on Gayle Rubin‘s important Feminist work, ‘The Traffic in Women’ touched upon what has been historically expected of women, especially working class ones. Rubin takes a look at the Marxist position before developing it into a gender rather than class-specific argument: the commodification of women in the marriage market. It’s an excellent read.
And we see Rubin’s position everywhere in Shakespeare and the EMP, where women constantly struggle against the social imperative to marry a man who ticks boxes for their family / parents, love coming as an unexpected bonus. Even comedies such as The Dreamfeature the tension between ‘kinship‘ and ‘companionate‘ marriages.
To say nothing of the pressures Elizabeth I was under, of course …
In my article, I dipped into Beaumont‘s book for a supporting quotation, but it’s been weighing on my mind. I think it needs to be considered on its own merits.
I wonder if there was a time when, at least as an adult, the name Germaine Greer was unknown to me. Yet this slim volume, picked up in the last mad pre-demolition trolley dash round our old sixth-form building almost a year ago, is my first reading of any of her works. I feel a bit embarrassed about that.
“This is all the UK has to show for itself. The situation is urgent. Please think of others far worse off than you and give generously”
For those who don’t know Mr Woolfe, he was hovering on the edges of glory at UKIP for a few years, challenging for the ‘leadership’ at one stage, until leaving in high dudgeon after a classy physical altercation with a colleague, and now standing as an ‘Independent’. UKIP is, for the uninitiated, the United Kingdom Independence Party – a political party of xenophobic, borderline racist, swivel-eyed loons who have done as much as anyone else to get us into this desperate Brexit mess.
Mr Woolfe is currently one of my MEPs (Member of the European Parliament). I didn’t vote for him. But tonight, to my shame, he represents me.
Michael K Jones, 1485: Bosworth – Psychology of a Battle (John Murray: London, 2014)
My hopes for this book weren’t high, having bought it for £2-99 from one of those small discount bookstores that seem to defy all logic in staying afloat. I’ve been pleasantly surprised: Jones has something different to say, and he argues it clearly and persuasively.
One of the things he looks at is the demonisation of Richard, asking if it isn’t just a little over the top. If so, why?