Tag Archives: literature

A Very, Very, – Bloodbath

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.




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Wherefore art Thou Treated Ill?

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 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.


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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.

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The Actors Are Come Hither

This second essay, or dollop of prattle (as you like it!) about Shakespeare is about …


Hamlet is my favorite of the tragedies.  Oh, I can scarcely explain why I enjoy it so— whether it’s because the speeches stick in my head so that I can spout poetry at the drop of a hat, or because parts of it make me laugh, or because Hamlet is so really, truly, utterly, entirely real…

And you’ve simply no idea how many of our everyday sayings come out of Hamlet. “The play’s the  thing”  “More honored in the breach than the observance”  “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” are but the barest sampling; you’d be quite surprised how many more gems are contained therein.

Also, somehow, Hamlet seems more satisfying than the other tragedies.  I cannot tell why; perhaps because I can more easily sympathize with Hamlet and comprehend his reasoning more than I can, say, with Othello, or King Lear.  (Certainly more than with Iago!)  Or perhaps it’s a trick of the atmosphere- perhaps I prefer the dark, mouldering castle to the bright, sunlit street where Mercutio sinks dying into the dust.  Less paradoxical, you see.


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Mastering the Master; or, Five Weeks in a Wooden O

The newest series on Literary Profferings shall consist of discussions of or essays on each of Shakespeare’s plays; that is, those in the accepted canon (First Folio plays &c).  The order of these shall be tragical, comical, historical, pastoral … I mean tragedies, comedies, and then histories.


A drum! A drum! Macbeth doth come!

The paradox inherent in the situation, as the prophecies of Macbeth’s own actions drawing him on to perform these actions, begs one to find the intended catalyst of the play.  That is to say, did the Bard intend to imply that fate drives us?  I instantly discard this theory (please disregard my pedantic voice here), as you can see Macbeth see-sawing back and forth as he makes his (bad) decisions.

Dusty determinism debates aside, Macbeth is really a frightening play.  The three weird sisters, the murders piling up; I have found that even Titus Andronicus is less overpowering.

The ambiguous ending, where Fleance doesn’t become king (nor is this anywhere explained) is quite irritating, though if you look it up (I tried Wikipedia), you see that it was a reference to King James’ bloodlines; hence the “king” bit.

It’s certainly well worth the watching, of course, and what I recommend is having a look on Amazon’s website to see which DVD version looks best to you; or asking the librarian for help.  Then I would try getting the version of your choice through inter-library loan if your library doesn’t have it— and if you like it, then buy it.  Cheaper that way…

And, if you want to read it, there was no free Kindle version last time I looked; however, used-book bookstores should have a cheap copy if you don’t mind wear and tear.


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