A Bookshelf Update … and a question or two

Being overwhelmed with books is a problem I’ve had to get used to …

BH books bedroom
NOT quite my situation, yet … image: curatormagazine.com

Today, I looked EVERYWHERE for a book that I wanted to quote from and couldn’t find it …

I know you’re in here, somewhere.  You were a Christmas present; when I got back from my second home in Wales I put you down when I unpacked. You’ve not left the flat.  The only place I didn’t check was the kitchen: it’s got no windows and I don’t go in there if I can help it.

Where are you hiding? *

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 010: On ‘Dumbing Down’

This has been on my mind for a while …

BH dumbing down

This is a long read – I say that on a blog where posts often hit 1,300 words, against ‘accepted wisdom’ – so apologies in advance.  YOUR blog is your blog; my blog is MY blog, and I write for catharsis and as a kind of journal, not ‘popularity’, ‘followers’, or ‘influence’.  I was tempted to temper my words with a gallery of pictures, but that didn’t feel right, either.  This post feels a little more personal than most.

In spite of, or maybe because of, constant trawling for Shakespeare-related content, I have only just found this.  Last April, Peter Marks wrote a piece for The Washington Post  (link below) suggesting that Americans are too ‘intellectually lazy’ to appreciate Shakespeare, and fearing for the future popularity of the plays.  My immediate response was ‘you think it’s bad in the US?  Try over here, where Shakespeare was born!’

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PTS 07/043: The Bad Death of Eduard (Delacroix) IV

What could be worse than dying, believing that you’re going to hell?

BH eduard delacroix
No trigger warnings, sorry …

PTS read-through:  Richard III, Act II, scene i

June 27, 1996.  George Street, Luton, at a bus stop opposite the town hall. Genuinely nauseous to the verge of throwing up.  Could I have torn my eyes up from the book I was reading, I would broadly have seen the image below …

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Who would Shakespeare vote for?

BH polling station
Something for your dog to ponder as you leave him outside tomorrow

[SPOILER ALERT] There’s a UK General Election taking place tomorrow …

Setting aside my own lefty, ‘soft’ eco-warrior credentials, and using mostly contextual information or material from the plays (because, as Bill Bryson gently reminds us over the course of 200-odd pages, we know next to nothing about the man) I thought it would be fun to see how Shakespeare might have voted.

And, regardless of my – or your – political beliefs, for the love of God, please VOTE tomorrow, if you’re entitled to.  Never mind the hackneyed cliché: ‘people died so you could‘ argument – you have absolutely no right to complain about what happens over the next 5 years if you didn’t even make the smallest effort to effect a change

Anyway, I visited isidewith, and tried to answer the questions as someone who died 401 years ago … here’s a selection of the conundrums I was faced with, plus the (firmly tongue-in-cheek) result …

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PTS 02/012: ‘A Necessary End’

BH death of suffolk

HENRY VI part II:  Act IV

‘death, a necessary end, will come when it will come’                                              (JULIUS CAESAR: Act II, sc ii)

subtitled: ‘The not very tragic or lamentable death of the serial rotter, Suffolk, and the deservedly doomed distraction caused by Cade.’

It’s not quite acts three or four of Antony and Cleopatra, but this act does get into double-figures in terms of scenes – something I find irritating as a reader, in a way that I don’t find when listening to or watching the plays. Still, basically, Act IV boils down into two episodes, as the subtitle suggests.

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PTS01/006: Je T’aime … Moi Non Plus

bh-serge-and-jane-terry-oneill
Serge and Jane:  detail from image by Terry O’Neill.  Looking not dissimilar to Suffolk and Margaret, methinks …

Henry VI 1:  Act V

[subtitled: “It’s always the quiet ones you need to watch out for.”]

As I finished the play, it occurred to me that women play a much larger role than I might have guessed back in the heady days of January, when I started seriously thinking about this project.  Perhaps I might refine that to say that French women.

What was/is it about the allure of French women to English men?

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PTS00/001: I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips …

… Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot (Henry V)

bh-greyhounds

So.  As we enter February 2017, and the beginning of the ‘Ponytail Shakespeare’ project, I feel the need to quote Stephen King:

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