Some genuine questions for Shakespeare-deniers, prompted by Ivor Brown’s labour of love …
Ivor Brown, Shakespeare (The Reprint Society: London, 1951)
This was a real find, as I’m discovering, at £1 from a second-hand bookshop in North Wales.
Brown has a wonderful writing style, self-deprecating and witty, subtly acerbic at times. In this book he reminds me of an English (although to be precise he was born in Penang) version of Bill Bryson.
He freely admits that there is simply no need for yet another book on Shakespeare, but that it is a labour of love. I think I feel the same way.
What could be worse than dying, believing that you’re going to hell?
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 …
Christ, this is IT […] THIS is why I do it. All of it.
W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (Penguin: London, 1992)
Today’s post is all about one simple fact: the world-wide-web existed centuries before the Internet. Before electricity, in fact. And I want you to plug into it.
I find it apposite, and slightly ironic that writing about Shakespeare, and without any deliberate choice on my part – I promise you – I’m listening to the Tron Legacy soundtrack as I type this. My other literary love is Science Fiction, and again, the point I’m making relates to that intoxicating cocktail of the 16th and 26th centuries, with a dash of the present thrown in.
Laura Ashe, Richard II: A Brittle Glory (Penguin: London, 2016)
Emboldened by the excellent ‘Penguin Monarchs‘ volume on Edward II, I looked out which other volumes were available: the first that arrived in the post was this one.
Ashe‘s approach seems different to Given-Wilson‘s on Edward. Where he was reassuringly chronological, she deals with Richard’s reign (and I’ve seen this as a criticism of the volume online) thematically. It has, nonetheless, given me some useful insight into a king who I’ve always vaguely felt I owed a debt: I fell asleep watching Jeremy Irons in the title role – in Stratford, of all places – back in 1986/7. To this day, I blame the large lunch I had before the matinee performance …
John Julius Norwich, Shakespeare’s Kings (Penguin: London, 2000)
I like this book very much, and as I’m currently teaching Edward II to two separate groups of sixth-formers, I thought I’d look out a quotation for them regarding our hapless king. Despite Edward not being one of Shakespeare‘s kings, Norwich doesn’t disappoint …
GR Elton, A History of England: England Under The Tudors (The Folio Society: London, 1997)
If there was ever a knockout blow in the ebooks vs. physical books debate, I think The Folio Society supplies it.
The heft of them, the slipcases, the overall production values – even the feel of the paper stock makes these a pleasure to read, and as someone who usually subjects his books to ‘tough love’, it makes me look after them in a way I rarely do other books.
And the contents never fail to live up to the packaging …