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)

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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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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: 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)

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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

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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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PTS07/044: RIP, Buckers …

Buckingham wants, needs, perhaps even deserves, a lover’s farewell …

BH buckingham executed

This is All Souls’ Day, fellow, is it not?

Why then, all Souls’ Day is my body’s doomsday.  (Richard III – BUCKINGHAM:  V.i.10-11)

 

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PTS 07/040: Grab your coat, love – you’ve pulled …

A
‘What though I killed her husband and her father?’

Richard III:  Act I sc ii (Ponytail Shakespeare read-through)

Sub-title:  ‘Do you have free wi-fi?  Because I’m sensing a connection …’

At school, we have a department policy of sitting boy-girl where possible (until sixth form, at least), and in most classes there is a combination that seems to get on that bit too well.  So, I’ve been researching chat-up lines I can embarrass those pupils with.  Yes, I’m that kind of teacher …

These are the best clean ones I’ve found so far.  If you can top this, let me know.

Anyway, back to the play!  Shrug.  If you’ve decided to behave badly, you may as well test your strength straight away, right?  If we accept, after my last post, that the main thing on Richard‘s mind is the constant, inevitable rejection of women, it follows that his next step in the play (the true story is somewhat different) is to seduce someone …

(Can I also say it hurt my eyes to search for this image?  

See the lengths I am willing to go to for you?)

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PTS 07/039: (Find Me) Somebody To Love

BH freddie mercury

Ponytail Shakespeare read-through – Richard III (Act I, scene i)

Larger than life.  One of a kind.  Brash on the outside, to mask an inner vulnerability.  The ultimate showman, whose memory lives on long after his death.  Freddie Mercury is all these things, too

I’ve arrived at Richard III, the first play in my read-through that I know well, with a sense of awe, almost a fear of not doing him justice.  Unusually, I’m as tentative as I might have been had I met him with a pathetic autograph book in my hand (or Mercury, whose death in 1991 touched me as few other celebrity deaths have:  Prince and Sir Terry Pratchett are the only others that I register, emotionally).  My relationship with Richard grows more obsessive and complex every time I teach him, and my recent book-buying seems unconciously centred round the historical Richard and the major players in his accession and downfall.  I’ve also realised there is no way I can do this in the usual 1,000-ish-words-per-act format, so all I’m going to do is try to avoid 1,000 words-per-scene, if I can.

How has Shakespeare done this to me?

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