Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Nose to the grindstone

Versions on a theme.

2014 has started in a novel fashion for me - one that has involved no novels in fact.  I had two essays due in the middle of January and I have been holed up at home writing them.

Both were challenging in their own ways but I have been boring the pants off anyone who comes near me with the things I've been discovering.

There's more than one version of several Shakespeare plays. Some of these versions differ greatly to the one that we think we know today.  Hamlet for instance, in Quarto One, has half the number of lines, the story takes place in a different order and the "To be or not to be" speech doesn't appear. To be honest Hamlet is nowhere near my top 10 of Shakespeare's plays and I cheered to find a shorter version!

I've been looking into Henry V for the past month as the two versions of this text are both very different and quite similar.  The Quarto version makes for a very different play than the more familiar Folio and again an iconic speech is missing - this time "Once more unto the breach..."

Henry V is a deceptive play which ever version you read and I'm pleased  to report that even after studying it for a month, reading several versions, and many critical texts it remains one of my favourite plays.

Jamie Parker as Henry V, Globe 2012 (picture from Evening Standard)

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