So It Begins…

My original thought for this project was to read all the introductory material by G.B. Harrison and give you my thoughts on what he had to say about the Bard back in 1948. I scrapped that idea when I realized most of the introduction is endless comparative analysis of the text of Folio 1 versus Quarto 2 and how that affected the second edition of the 1712 collected works, of which only half a copy survives, and is still considered the definitive version by two scholars who also happen to be fraternal twins. Or whatever. I figured I probably didn’t need to read all that stuff to prepare me just to read that stuff again. So I jumped right in to Henry VI Part One.

First, I just have to say, ol’ Bill really had a way with words. There are several lines right at the start that struck me as maybe the perfect way to express exactly the thing that was expressed. For instance, early in the first scene, a bunch of the English noblemen are told that the French are rebelling and taking back territory that the newly deceased Henry V had laid claim to. The Duke of Bedford says of the dead king “Speak softly, or the loss of those great towns/Will make him burst his lead and rise from death”. The image of a coffin exploding and a thoroughly pissed off king stepping out was so vivid that it made me laugh in a morbid sort of way. The thing is, Shakespeare is known for being good at writing. Like, that’s his main claim to fame. But this was my first time truly seeing it in action. As I mentioned last time, I read several plays in high school, but I was no judge of the finer points of writing when I was sixteen and cared more about skateboards and bubble gum than I did about my English class. Or whatever. It was a long time ago, I don’t remember what my interests really were.

Henry V – Dead and loving it

As of this writing, I have only read the first act, but it was a doozy. Joan of Arc showed up! That felt like a huge celebrity showing up in the play. Kind of like if Denzel Washington appeared in a random episode of King of Queens… You can’t really expect my references to be more timely, I’m writing a blog about Shakespeare. Anyway, the English have been dealt a huge blow with most of their French territories now being claimed by Charles the Dauphin. Or Charles the Dolphin, as he is sometimes referred to for some reason.  Now the crucial town of Orleans is under siege by Charles and Joan. Through a bit of trickery, they blow up a porthole through which the English commanders can survey the siege and in so doing, kill Salisbury (a rumored madman) in a particularly gruesome way. Talbot, the great English hero, vows his revenge. He fights Joan in hand-to-hand combat, but the French take the city and Talbot retreats in shame. Meanwhile, back in London, Gloucester is having a feud with the Cardinal of Winchester, who may have had something to do with the old king’s death.

I mean, it’s a great start to a big, dramatic story. I’m thoroughly interested and can’t wait to see what happens next. Is Joan really a witch? is the Cardinal a murderer? What’s going to happen to Talbot now that he has been defeated by a French girl? Where is the infant Henry VI? Is he cute? I guess I will have to read on to find out.

Published by Alex H.

Reader, writer, editor, dum-dum.

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