PTS 11/066: Alas, poor Richard …

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground, and tell sad stories of the death of kings …

bh-hollow-crown-rii-beach.jpg

PTS read-through:  Richard II, act III (part ONE)

Witnessing the utter disintegration of a human being – even a fictional one – is, I’d suggest, an uneasy, distressing experience.  And yet … 

Voyeuristic shame accompanies the compulsion to keep spectating what is usually such a private affair.  My first experience of this type of slow-mo car-crash literature was Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, when I was about 12.  It scarred me – I’ve never quite been able to revisit Michael Henchard’s self-induced immolation; it also, I think, gave me my first seductive bittersweet taste of tragedy.  Like that initial stolen underage drink, whilst I wasn’t quite sure I liked it, I wanted another – just to be certain.

Richard’s collapse is the most devastatingly beautiful in Shakespeare, perhaps in the wider canon: it begins here, spanning three poignant acts. 
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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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To buy, or not to buy …

lego_WS_firestar

Students, people who know me, or indeed regular visitors will know I have a bit of a fetish for Lego

Just to be clear, I don’t play with it, but I do collect some of the minifigures, photograph them – sometimes for classroom posters, or just because I generally like them.  My Schemes of Work for school, like the one on Conan Doyle‘s The Sign of Four, is full of Lego pics.  I buy plenty of minifigures.

Imagine, though, the situation …

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The Bookshelf just keeps growing …

Books in the vault, Deck C, Folger Shakespeare Library, 9/11/09
image courtesy Folger Library

Soon there won’t be much room for customers at The Boar’s Head.

… although it still isn’t keeping pace with my book buying.  Buying books and reading books operate in entirely different dimensions, as my overflowing bookshelves will tell you.  When I hit 100 books, which isn’t far off, if you include the Arden Third editions of the plays themselves, I may have to employ an orangutan to take the bookshelf into L-space.  (GNU  Sir Terry Pratchett)

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PTS 04/023: Is that you, baby?

BH bruce springsteenOr just a brilliant disguise?

… as The Boss might remark. A guy who, perhaps appositely in the light of this post, I admire for his authenticity as much as his music.

The Taming of the Shrew: Act III

By now, I wonder if anyone is who they say they are in this play. Poor old Christopher Sly‘s been conned into thinking he’s a Lord with a young, beautiful wife, remember: and that was BEFORE the play properly started … When I see the Stage Direction:

“Enter LUCENTIO [as Cambio], HORTENSIO [as Licio] and BIANCA”

(who I suspect is not as pure, dutiful, or even as nice as she seems), my heart sinks a little.

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PTS: 03/019: There can be only one

BH highlander
Don’t make me chop your head off …

Henry VI part III (Act IV)

Edward V, like Edward II, like Richard II, like Macbeth, maybe even like Richard III, seems to think that the crown’s enough.  Whilst there can be only one, physical possession of the golden round really isn’t a given.  Everyone else has to believe you’re king – not just you!

They are but Lewis and Warwick; I am Edward,

Your King and Warwick’s and must have my will. (IV.i.15-16)

That’s all very well, but if it that attitude couldn’t save Julius Caesar:

‘I rather tell you what is to be feared / Than what I fear: for always I am Caesar’ (CAESAR, Julius Caesar I.ii.210-211)

– and he was a dozen times the man you are – then your goose is cooked.  You have married in haste, and now you’re going to repent at leisure.  Frankly, if Richard says so, it’s good enough for me:

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