Siria's Reviews > A Man for All Seasons

A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt
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's review
Jun 05, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: drama
Read in March, 2005

I was first introduced to the movie in history class when I was about thirteen or fourteen, and absolutely adored it; so I sought out the script of the stage play to read as well.

Normally, I am not enamoured by a script when it's merely written words on a page - they usually seem a flat and a dead thing, empty of life and spark. I need to see it enacted and brought to life on the stage or in a movie. Bolt's managed to create a work which succeeds in captivating me on the page alone.

I don't have a very visual imagination - I tend to see in word pictures and verbal associations - so the pared-down, minimalistic approach Bolt uses when it comes to description and place really appealed to me. More than that, though, was the dialogue, which is the real joy and heart of this play. It's energetic and engaging, a wonderful mix of intellectual argument and erudition and dry humour. The verbal sparring between More and his opponents was just a joy to read.

More's personality isn't perhaps exactly how I would have pictured him from reading his writings - he comes across as a little more human in the play, I think. A little less steadfastly earnest and pious; and I think the play is the better for it. Bolt knew how to balance historical realism and accuracy with artistic license to create something which is very much both of 16th century England, and which speaks to the timeless dilemma of trying to reconcile personal beliefs with reality.

The ending was... interesting, if highly cynical. Probably the part of it that I'll end up mulling over the most, because of how it impacts on the preceding text and on my own views.

It's a very short work - only a hundred pages in the small edition I have - and you don't really need to know much about the background; so what are you waiting for? Go read!

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