Some writers, historically speaking, do take other folks’ stories, rewrite them, and make them better. Troilus and Cressida is just such a one; even to read instead of watching it is easier than any translation of Homer (I’ve dabbled in three, no, four different translations and always get bogged down. Truly, I know what I’m talking about.).
I partly enjoy this one because I am so familiar with most of these folk; Aeneas, Achilles, Priam, and so on. To point out another masterful improvement by the Bard, it is this: that the men finally speak- most translated Iliads have so little of speech in them that it maddens me. I am grateful for the play, therefore.
I haven’t gotten a DVD version of this yet; the Kindle has a free version, however, with decent formatting (no irritating, unreasoned changes from print to italics). A paperback would be my redoubt, failing the possession of a Kindle.
I suppose that Julius Caesar is a tragedy; I would classify it as a history, myself, but for those incidents in which almost all of the major characters die upon their own swords. Tragedy it is, then.
This is obviously quite a violent play- although less so than many modern shows. The play rather puts me in mind of Richard III, badly done, and ending in the (recently disinterred) king putting an end to himself.
While this one has many memorable lines, to me, I who love fair lyricism and lilting speech, prefer other, more, ah, not alliterative plays, per se, but you might say less hard-boiled than this. Personal preference.
I’ve only seen the full-length BBC version of this, from the eighties, and that was quite good; a good library ought to have it, or be able to request it.
I managed to irritate the librarian the other day (she’d have been infuriated if she wasn’t such a nice lady) by sending back an inter-library loaner. She was quite right, too— I’d requested Titus Andronicus, taken it out, and brought it back, unwatched, within twenty-four hours.
I had but looked at the listing of scenes within the case to realize that a lady oughtn’t to watch it. Murder, cannibalism, improper advances— why watch it?
They do say (scholars say, and we all know what they’re like) that Titus is one of Shakespeare’s earlier works. I looked up a copy of it, to read, and they seem to have pegged it right for a change. Shakespeare’s diction has not the scintillating brilliance that his later works are wonted to have; not even worthy of Henry VI (which I believe he stole), with its “Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky, And with them scourge the bad revolting stars”.
Therefore, until I get to the Histories, I simply respectfully ask you to try Shakespeare’s Hamlet as the best example of the Bard’s work.
The chiefest complaint that I have with Romeo & Juliet is that so many film-makers capitalize on it to make it indecent. The upside (a comparatively small one) is that today’s Juliet is played by a woman, one who has had time to learn to act.
I’ll gladly read it, however, and enjoy it too; ’tis a goodly play, though of course unfit for the younger set. The edition I read (I lost both it and its name) said that the play is based on a real story; that would be a tourist spot: Come See the Tomb of the Real Romeo & Juliet! But I digress. This play does show how much Shakespeare can do with a story already told; as I have heard most of his plays are, in fact, re-tellings. He was a master plagiarist!
I would recommend a good, hardcover edition. Barnes & Noble actually has a complete Shakespeare (sans notes, I believe) for eight bucks; although one store only had a twenty-dollar hardcover.
It’s almost odd how I dislike Othello. It almost has so many of my favorite things: Cyprus (there are some rattling tales to be told about those wars), battles, and galleons (at least I think they were, though they aren’t shown).
As it does fall out, it has a tantalizing background whilst a psycho-drama plays out in the foreground. Then, too, there is rather more of coarse language in this play; drinking too, and a rather memorable drunk. I somehow feel that this won’t go over well with many people; and after all, everyone knows, these days, that Falstaff is the funniest and most memorable toper that the Bard ever created.
Therefore, if you were only going to pick one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, I wouldn’t recommend this one; even Laurence Olivier’s version is dreadful.