Tag Archives: Shakespeare

New books: July

I promise that I will give up buying books for a while now after this month. Having no shelving as of yet for books means that I just keep piling ‘em up and hoping that they will fit somewhere when we move, and I can’t keep on. However, this month has seen me tempted terribly by both pretty classics (Penguin and Oxford, I’m looking at you), and a ridiculous book sale in the only independent bookshop left in Stoke-on-Trent. It would be bad not to patronise them when they have a sale on, surely?

Webberley's Bookshop

Webberley’s Bookshop

All but five of the following books were from the sale, bought over four visits.

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  • Allen Ginsberg – Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems £2.99
  • Daljit Nagra – Look we have coming to Dover!*
  • Thomas Hardy – Wessex Poems*
  • Ian Duhig – The Speed of Dark*
  • Maurice Riordan – Floods*

The Ginsberg was spied in the Oxfam on Turl Street in the centre of Oxford when I went down at the start of the month with a group of Y10 and ex-Y11 students from work for a two-day (one night) residential at my college, St. Hugh’s. I did visit The Last Bookshop (as mentioned in a previous book-haul post), but didn’t come away with anything from there.

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  • Federico Garcia Lorca – The House of Bernarda Alba and Other Plays*
  • Sophocles – The Theban Plays**
  • Bertolt Brecht – The Good Woman of Setzuan*
  • William Shakespeare – Love’s Labour’s Lost*          –               Four Comedies : The Taming of the Shrew – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – As You Like It – Twelfth Night*            –               Anthony and Cleopatra**
  • Oscar Wilde – A Woman of No Importance*           –               Salome*

I already own a copy of the Sophocles plays (the Oedipus trilogy) in a Robert Fagles translation, but this is a different translation, which I thought would be interesting to compare it with. Also it’s a nice Penguin Classics edition.

In the same way, I already own a copy of The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night, but for the price I thought it daft not to get this four-in-one text; it works out at 5p a play. Also, it frees up some room, as the four-in-one take up far less room than my copies of those two plays do individually.

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  • Sivadasa – The Five-and-Twenty Tales of the Genie***
  • The Tain***
  • William Beckford – Vathek**
  • W. Somerset Maugham – Liza of Lambeth*
  • Colette – Cheri**
  • Jane Austen – Emma***
  • Henry James – Washington Square**
  • Henry Mackenzie – The Man of Feeling**

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  • Laura Schwartz – A Serious Endeavour: Gender, education and community at St. Hugh’s, 1886-2011             £10
  • Philip Ardagh – The Archaeologist’s Handbook**
  • Tracey Turner – Foul Facts from the Perilous Past**
  • Richard Mackay – The Atlas of Endangered Species***

The first of these was also bought when I was down in Oxford, from St. Hugh’s College itself. It was written for the 125th anniversary of the college in 2011, but I never got a copy when I was actually studying. The other three of these are for use at work.

Now, the next book (I hope) speaks for itself:

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How ACE. This was also from the book sale (**)

Now, lastly, these weren’t:

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  • Virginia Woolf – The Lady in the Looking-Glass**
  • Voltaire – Candide and Other Stories         99p
  • Marcel Mauss – The Gift £1.49

The Gift is one of the key texts that I used at Uni, and which I’ve meant to get my own copy of ever since I was studying. Also, on the subject of this book (and more specifically it’s author), our youngest son has a toy mouse that we’ve named Marcel. Only us…

Now- NO MORE BOOK BUYING!


* 20p

** 50p

*** £1

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New books: May

Yep. I’m behind again. I’ve still got book reviews to type, and a few archaeology and anthropology posts to do. Will I ever get round to them? Perhaps not. For now, May’s books:

May books

  • Bob Dylan –  Tarantula     50p
  • Roald Dahl –  Rhyme Stew     50p
  • J.B.Priestley –  An Inspector Calls and Other Plays     £2.99
  • William Shakespeare –  Julius Caesar     20p
  • Bret Easton Ellis –  American Psycho     50p

I also picked up this:

Me, somewhat surprised with myself. I mean, come on- it's shit, isn't it? ...Isn't it...?

Me, somewhat surprised with myself. I mean, come on- it’s shit, isn’t it?

Don’t shoot me- I know it is shite, and just a cursory glance across the text and its grainy b&w plates reinforces the level of pseudo-archaeological, cod-scientific bull crap that it contains, but it is the book that got my Tutor at Oxford into archaeology, and I thought it worth buying just for that, and the comedy value. It was also only 50p. Expect a scathing deconstruction of this at some point, as I do intend on reading it soon.

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New Books: April

As promised on my last book-purchases post, here are my new acquisitions from April (albeit a tad late):

 

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  • Geoffrey Berg- The Six Ways of Atheism: New Logical Disproofs of the Existence of God     10p
  • Patrick Moore- The Guinness Book of Astronomy     10p
  • Lesley and Roy Adkins- The Keys to Egypt: The Race to Read the Hieroglyphics     20p
  • Suetonius- The Twelve Caesars    99p
  • Caesar- The Conquest of Gaul     99p
  • The Paston Letters     10p

 

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  • Charles Dickens- Great Expectations     20p
  • E. W. Hornung- Raffles     20p
  • Penelope Lively- Moon Tiger     20p
  • Yevgeny Zamyatin- We     £2
  • Ralph Ellison- Invisible Man     £2
  • Leo Tolstoy- War and Peace     50p
  • Mary Shelley- Frankenstein     10p
  • Philip K. Dick- The Man in the High Castle     50p
  • Jonathan Swift- Poems Selected by Derek Mahon     Bought for me
  • William Shakespeare- Henry IV Part 2, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night     50p each

 

Also, I had these bought for me (which I’d asked for):

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  • Timothy Taylor- The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture
  • Evelyn Waugh- Brideshead Revisited
  • Hermann Hesse- Strange News from Another Star and Other Stories
  • Dante- The Divine Comedy Volume I: Inferno, The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory, The Divine Comedy III: Paradise (I translated by Mark Musa; II translated by Dorothy L. Sayers; III translated by Dorothy L. Sayers and Barbara Reynolds)

 

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Books, and ‘Reclaimed Books Part 5’

I came across these over the past few days:

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  • J.D. Salinger –  The Catcher in the Rye     50p
  • Francoise Sagan –  Bonjour Tristesse     20p
  • J.R.R. Tolkien –  The Hobbit     25p
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez –  Of Love and Other Demons     20p
  • Jennifer Elliot –  An Introduction to Sustainable Development: The Developing World     25p
  • William Shakespeare –  Macbeth     25p
  • William Shakespeare –  Henry V     25p
  • Ovid –  Metamorphoses     25p
  • Homer –  The Iliad     25p

The book on sustainable development is interestingly written by a woman who was (at the time the book was published) a Geography lecturer at my local university, Staffordshire University. Also, I nearly bought this book in Oxford when I was studying gender and sustainable development as part of one of my anthropology option papers, but didn’t like the price Oxfam were asking for it, so I was happy to find this copy for 25p!

Now hang on- there’s more! After I’d snapped this little lot, I then got these:

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  • Roald Dahl –  Switch Bitch, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, and My Uncle Oswald     50p each

I would have also had one of Roald Dahl’s other short story collections ‘Someone Like You’ as well, had another man not grabbed it before I had chance.

Oh, and then yesterday…

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  • Elizabeth Gaskell –  Cranford     20p
  • Charles Dickens –  The Christmas Books: A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth     40p

Now, I know that I already own a copy of ‘Cranford’ that includes two other related novellas, but this edition includes a critical introduction, a Cranford-based short story, and a short essay by Gaskell. And it’s an OUP edition. And it was only 20p. The other book, I do actually own a copy of already in this edition, and it is still at my parent’s house. However, I have no idea where, and so I thought for 40p it wouldn’t hurt to get another copy incase that one doesn’t turn up.

This last point now moves me smoothly on to the ‘Reclaimed Books Part 5’ bit of this blog post title. Today, I picked these up from my parents:

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  • Euripides –  Medea and Other Plays
  • Sophocles –  The Three Theban Plays
  • Robert Harris –  Fatherland (one of my favourite novels, which I read in less than two days about four years ago)
  • Thomas Hardy –  Far From the Madding Crowd
  • William Shakespeare –  Romeo and Juliet
  • Daniel Defoe –  Robinson Crusoe

…and I finally remembered to get these:

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I picked up ‘The BFG’ and ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ a few months ago, and so these are the rest:

  • James and the Giant Peach
  • The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr Willy Wonka (Containing ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator’)
  • The Magic Finger
  • Fantastic Mr Fox
  • The Twits
  • George’s Marvellous Medicine
  • The Witches
  • The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
  • Boy and Going Solo
  • Matilda
  • Esio Trot

I know that they are children’s books, but I’m using the excuse that they are classic examples of children’s literature, and so can still be read by adults. Anyway, I like Roald Dahl, and want to read them again. Don’t judge me!

 

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The first new books of 2014

I had a rather lucky weekend in terms of books. Let’s just say that all of the books in this photo here…

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…came to £3. They were ALL 25p each, which is not at all bad.

  • R.A. Sydie –  Natural Women/Cultured Men: A Feminist Perspective on Sociological Theory
  • Richard Fortey –  Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution
  • William Shakespeare –  The Tempest
  • William Shakespeare –  King Lear
  • Ben Jonson –  Volpone
  • Erskine Childers –  The Riddle of the Sands
  • Julian Barnes –  The Sense of an Ending
  • Erich Maria Remarque –  All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Jane Austen –  Sense and Sensibility
  • Edgar Allan Poe –  The Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • Toni Morrison –  The Bluest Eye
  • Kate Chopin –  The Awakening and other stories
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Thoughts on Shakespeare… and ‘Star Wars’…

Shakespeares Star Wars

Yep. You did see that book cover image right. There is indeed a lost manuscript by Shakespeare that has recently been unearthed titled ‘Star Wars’, which seems to have been in the private collection of a one George Lucas (before he sold the work not to the Bodleian or the Library of Congress, but to Disney) and mercilessly plagiarised in order to make several moderately successful films… Okay, I jest. ‘Star Wars’ has been more than moderately successful…

I’m joking, obviously (…), but there is indeed a book out entitled ‘Shakespeare’s Star Wars’ by Ian Doescher, which reimagines Episode IV as if it were a play by The Bard. My wonderful partner bought me this when we were in Oxford for the Graduation last week, and I devoured it soon after due to the sheer brilliance of the concept, and my mutual love of ‘Star Wars’ and Shakespeare (although my love of the former is somewhat greater than that of the latter…). Indeed, the book is actually ridiculously good (and borders on the ridiculous), as the dialogue is highly convincing as Shakespeare whilst also being so ‘Star Wars’: for example, the famous line “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi; you are my only hope” is kept, becoming this:

“Oh help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, help. / Thou art mine only hope.” Act I Scene 6, Line 73-74

I was also interested to see that several famous Shakespearean lines had been preserved in slightly modified form:

  • “- that all the world’s a star.” Act I Scene 7, Line 98
  • “I do not like thy look. Indeed, young lad, / I bite my thumb at thee.” Act III Scene 1, Line 57-58
  • “What paradox! What fickle-natur’d power! / Aye: frailty, thy name – belike – is Force.” Act III Scene 6, Line 51-52
  • “…We enter swift unto the area / Where should there be great Alderaan in view. / But pray, what madness meets the Falcon’s flight? / Is this an ast’roid field I see before me?” Act III Scene 8, Line 2-5
  • “A plague on 3PO for action slow, / A plague upon my quest that led us here, / A plague on both our circuit boards, I say!” Act IV Scene 4, Line 120-122
  • “Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not, / Yet have I ta’en both uniform and life / From thee. What manner of a man wert thou? / A man of inf’nite jest or cruelty?” Act IV Scene 6, Line 1-4
  • “It hath defenses ‘gainst a large assault, / But like a king who fell for want of horse / This station may be crush’d by smaller might.” Act V Scene 4, Line 29-31
  • “Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears.” Act V Scene 4, Line 65
  • “Once more unto the trench, dear friends, once more!” Act V Scene 5, Line 231
  • “So Biggs, stand with me now, and be my aide, / And Wedge, fly at my side to lead the charge- / We three, we happy three, we band of brothers, […]” Act V Scene 5, Line 248-250

There may be more, but those were the ones that I picked out. I also like the other Shakespearean devices that Doescher employs, such as the use of asides and soliloquy, the clever wordplay, and the way in which C-3PO and R2-D2 take on a role akin to that of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in ‘Hamlet’. It is also clever that within this version of ‘Star Wars’, R2-D2 actually uses English in his asides to show that he is far more intelligent that many of the other characters, and allows us to actually see the droid as a character with proper emotions, thoughts and views. Also, this adds comic value to many of the exchanges between R2 and C-3PO, as the latter is unaware of much that the former thinks, making him seem somewhat stupid.

I quoted above Doescher’s interpretation of the line originally spoken by Hamlet when he is confronted with the skull of the jester Yorick, and just wanted to point out that here, we have an element to the play that is missing in the original film. In this soliloquy, we have Luke musing upon the helmet he had procured from a dead Stormtrooper as a means of disguise, imagining the person that once wore it. In the films, there is no sense of the ‘troopers as people; rather they are faceless soldiers, and so it is nice to see this extra flash of humanity added to make us think for a moment upon the true nature of those who make up the enemy side. I don’t want to dwell on this point, but it would be nice occasionally if this sort of thing was done- not just in film and literature, but in the current news and in our teaching of history (I’m thinking of the killing of insurgents in Afghanistan and the dehumanization of German soldiers in the two World Wars as two examples).

All-in-all, this is a remarkably good book, that doesn’t require prior knowledge of either ‘Star Wars’ or any of Shakespeare’s works (although knowledge of both does improve the enjoyment and the understanding greatly), and it is definitely something that I will come back to again and again.

Image: Michael Sloan/Yale Alumni Magazine

Image: Michael Sloan/Yale Alumni Magazine

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