I'll have to read this again before I can review, but he became my God of critics. Even though you might despair when you believe/know that tragedy isI'll have to read this again before I can review, but he became my God of critics. Even though you might despair when you believe/know that tragedy is the highest art and he proves tragedy impossible in the present age... Meant more to my existential growth than Nietzsche with The Birth of Tragedy. ...more
A tragedy of friendship - friendship ruined by love.
I came to this through Harold Bloom. He quotes Emilia on her dead girlhood friend, a speech whichA tragedy of friendship - friendship ruined by love.
I came to this through Harold Bloom. He quotes Emilia on her dead girlhood friend, a speech which has this end, That the true love 'tween maid and maid may be More than in sex dividual. And Bloom says, this declaration is unique in Shakespeare, and deserves to be better known as the locus classicus in defense of such love in the language.
The play runs on strong friendships - love-friendships; that of Theseus and Pirithous is hymned by Theseus' (conquered) Amazon wife; there is the Amazon Emilia who is never a convert to love; and the friends of the title, who fall to rivalry for her sake. Emilia acts very sensibly: she tries not to come between them, she tells them their friendship is more important.
That's the plot. The style is late, dark but elegiac, at times staggeringly bitter, with a ghastly hymn to the Goddess of Love, and can be as gory a romp as Titus.
Is it anti-love? Possibly; at least, friendship is centre stage, and how unusual is that? It's one of his late experiments, tragic and comic, and is unafraid to do things differently. ...more
I'm told Coriolanus, the person, is unlikeable, but I happen to like him. I don't even think he's a right-wing bastard, just shy, awkward and misunderI'm told Coriolanus, the person, is unlikeable, but I happen to like him. I don't even think he's a right-wing bastard, just shy, awkward and misunderstood. It's his severe self-effacement that makes him hate publicity. Who wants to stand in the market and exhibit your wounds in a stupid political stunt? And his thickheadedness, the fact he has no idea when to use that soldierly bluntness and when to keep his trap shut, is a naivety I like against the politics of Rome. He's a soldier, yes, but at least he isn't a politician.
He always was more at home with his enemy. It's a scream how Coriolanus and Aufidius are so wrapped up in each other: they pant for the next instalment of the insult/flattery exchange, 'So what did Aufidius say about me?' 'And Coriolanus mentioned me?' They belong together.
If only he'd stuck to his guns and not called off the march on Rome. The end works as tragedy for me, no question: Coriolanus is destroyed by that which he serves. With a mother like his he never stood a chance. They made him the perfect soldier, and he is, but then they reject him for what he is. There's certainly satire of militarism (the warmonger women of Rome, the infamous butterfly speech), and I think the play says a lot about soldiers and the military, and about civilians' use and abuse of soldiers. I notice that, more than the politics. I'd call it a soldier's tragedy....more
I love Swinburne. I memorised most of 'Anactoria', 300 lines of Sappho being sadistic and blasphemous:
Cruel? But love makes that all that love him weI love Swinburne. I memorised most of 'Anactoria', 300 lines of Sappho being sadistic and blasphemous:
Cruel? But love makes that all that love him well As wise as heaven and crueller than hell. Me hath love made more bitter towards thee Than death towards man; but were I made as he Who hath made all things to break them one by one, If my feet trod upon the stars and sun And souls of men as his have always trod, God knows I might be crueller than God.
After that I loved his 'Hymn to Proserpine', spoken by the last pagan of Rome: Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean... Swinburne was a pagan.
O lips that the live blood faints in, the leavings of racks and rods! O ghastly glory of saints, dead limbs of gibbeted Gods! Though all men abase them before you in spirit, and all knees bend, I kneel not neither adore you, but standing, look to the end.
His incantatory style calls to be spoken aloud and makes him easy to memorise. ...more
Has been my favourite Sh play. I love Othello himself in a way I don't any other of his tragic heroes. Hamlet you identify with, but Othello is givenHas been my favourite Sh play. I love Othello himself in a way I don't any other of his tragic heroes. Hamlet you identify with, but Othello is given us to love. Venice loves him, and who doesn't, aside from Iago, who, perhaps, does too, or what the hell's his problem?
Othello is great-souled, naive, magniloquent, with a royal dignity though once a slave, with exotic tales to tell that Desdemona loves him for, a simple soldier with a life of wild adventure, black and the idol of Venice. He ends up in frothing seizures on the floor. And he knows himself before the end:
And say besides that in Aleppo once Where a malignant and a turbaned Turk Beat a Venetian and traduced the state, I took by th' throat the circumcised dog And smote him -- thus. He stabs himself.
Among the saddest lines in Shakespeare for me. I have done Venice wrong, I am myself that dog.
Venice adopts him, a thick-lipp'd Moor, as a general and he champions Venice against the Turks. He is nobler than any of the subtle Venetians -- the Venetians think so. Desdemona is fascinated by his foreignness and in no sense repulsed. That this embrace, happy on both sides, of Venice and the Moor ends in tragedy. It's sad. ...more
Lurid. The Amazons irupt into the Greek and Trojan battle, and fight both, without explanation. They are come to capture mates. Queen Penthesilea setsLurid. The Amazons irupt into the Greek and Trojan battle, and fight both, without explanation. They are come to capture mates. Queen Penthesilea sets her sights on the highest game, Achilles, and pursues him tigerishly, past sense and her own people’s customs. She’s written with the vigour of any wild animal, and the verse is full of activity, chase scenes up cliff faces, spectacular action – described by witnesses, since it’s a drama, but that works. If you like tales of foes fascinated by each other, this is one of those, with an ending like The Bacchae crossed with the opera Salome (=lurid). A true contribution to Amazon fiction, from 1808 and startling today.
With sexual, animalistic illustrations by Maurice Sendak. ...more