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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:40 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

If the Bible is allowed then so should the collected works of Shakespeare.
I remember at school the set play was Julius Caesar with those wonderful speeches. So as someone who loved history the logical next play to read was Richard 11 and on through the kings to Henry V111. Then the long poems and the Sonnets.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Q wrote:
Well, well,   a personal line by line (with careful omissions) analysis from the Reject.  I suppose I should be flattered.  
Sure it is possible the folks in the article were sincere  that’s why I said I am not sure, if you are going to do a refutation Reject try and do it properly.


John Q, I have been perfectly polite and courteous in my post addressed to you, but you respond to my courtesy with a sneering sarcasm that I find very nasty and offensive.

Beyond saying this, I do not consider your post worthy of a reply: your post is as foolish as it is rude.



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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Castorboy - Richard II was the first play we read at school, when I was 12 or 13, and I loved it - not sure why it appealed to an adolescent girl, but I found the character of Richard fascinating, helped by the BBC version of it with Derek Jacobi in the lead, though he is an actor I have never warmed to.  The lovely Jon Finch as Bolingbroke also made an impression - Gielgud as John of Gaunt, etc, those were the days.  We studied Julius Caesar for O level, and I loved that too - they took us to see it at Stratford, and I remember our English teacher telling us to take note of the actor playing Brutus, as he had been tipped as a future star - it was one Ben Kingsley.  I later saw him play Othello at Stratford.  I might read the history plays following the kings of England, inspired by your post - sounds a good idea.

Actually, thinking back, that's not quite true - Macbeth was our first play, so Richard II must have been in the third year, as it was then - I would have been 14.


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3435


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Macbeth was the first Shakespeare play we read at school, when we were 12 and 13. So we also got Jon Finch, and a naked Francesca Annis. A lot of boys suddenly decided it was a really interesting play.


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 2108


Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was Macbeth for me too. I remember most of the lads enjoying the general goriness of Polanski's film, and being amused that Fleance was played by one Keith Chegwin - more familiar to us from his stint on Noel Edmonds' Swap Shop.

Then we went on to Henry IV Part 1 for O-level.



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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure how they got away with showing that film to us at that age. I'm sure there was no parental consent form. One of my friends got very excited when a live production came to the school a few weeks later, but was sadly disappointed when Lady Macbeth stayed clothed throughout. He turned out to be gay, so I'm not sure he'd have got a great deal out of it anyway. At my next school, we watched the Jarman film of The Tempest and my English teacher cut it off at the point where all the camp sailors appear dancing. (We would have been about 15 by this time.) I was very annoyed - it's the best bit...


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The two parts of Henry IV are possibly the high point of Shakespeare’s history plays – and possibly even the high point of his dramatic output. Peter Hall, amongst others, cites them as his favourite plays.

It was with the three early Henry VI plays, I think, that Shakespeare really established himself. He was still finding his feet with the first one, but the next two have about them a marvellous theatrical vigour. And he completed the series with Richard III, possibly his first great masterpiece.

He went back in history for the next series. Despite its many virtues, I have never really warmed to Richard II: I just don’t find the central character sufficiently compelling to carry the drama. But s for the two Henry IV plays – this is possibly when Shakespeare realised, perhaps to his own surprise, the extent of his own genius. He suddenly seemed to realise the extent of his own genius. This tetralogy is finished by Henry V, which seemed to go off in a different directon. I’ve never quite known what to make of this play.

In between, Shakespeare wrote King John, possibly the dullest play in the entire Shakespearean canon. And Henry VIII was a late play, and most definitely a collaboration. I am not sure that Shakespeare was a particularly good collaborator, since the play is uneven, and appears to be pulling in different directions.

Of hs Roman histories, I recently mentioned on another thread how much I loved (and continue to love) Julius Casear. And Antony and Cleopatra is a play I often nominate as my personal favourite.  Coriolanus is an odd ‘un, though!

Thoughts on them all here: http://argumentativeoldgit.wordpress.com/60-2/



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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2998


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't read the link but have thought back to the books I read when young.  I think Wuthering Heights is more easily appreciated by young people, perhaps not for the qualities Himadri likes in it but for the appeal to the emotions it has for youth.  

Hamlet has great appeal for teenagers, at least if it is taught properly, and no doubt if it is performed well.  Don't know about coming to it cold though.

But books are personal to the reader too.  My young son really liked Persuasion, but that is because he really appreciated the moral fibre of Anne.  But he didn't enjoy Middlemarch.  The other book he talks about with pleasure is The Origin of Species.

I think young people would get a great deal out of a book like To Kill a Mockingbird.  The idealism of this book and its strong moral stance is the sort of thing young people find appealing.  

Cheers, Caro.


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Melony



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 364



PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Alx, don't be a hater on Siddhartha! Smile Just kidding.  Steppenwolf was wonderful - I actually read all of these before 21, but Magister Ludi later and I recall not being as enamoured. Hesse is so idealistic, I think that is the appeal to young people, and the paradoxes are perfect for people that age who are just beginning to awaken to the world.

I love Hamlet for 11-year-olds!  I am just getting ready to read Julius Caesar with a group of 11-year-olds and am greatly looking forward to it.

If one doesn't read things before 21, how does one measure personal growth and understanding after 21?  You read The Great Gatsby, for instance, at 14 and then re-read it at 40 and notice other things, subtleties that completely escaped the 14-year-old you. Or you notice something you loved at that age is now upon re-reading really the most craptacular thing ever written... Of course there are things to be read before 21!  So many good things!


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That bit about Hamlet for 11-year-olds was meant as a joke, by the way. I do feel that a work as iconic as Hamlet is more or less mandatory reading for any English-speaker interested in literature, but it is a very difficult play, and no one, I’d have thought, to start off with.

But it’s an interesting question – what should one recommend (that’s recommend, not prescribe!) to a bright youngster? Melony makes a good point that we can measure our personal growth and understanding by how we react to works of stature over the years. Sure, a 12-year-old – even a very bright 12-year-old – is likely to miss out on much of the subtleties and intricacies of something like, say, Julius Caesar. But so what? They have a whole lifetime to come back to it! And whatever they manage to take in at first reading is surely worthwhile!

I remember a programme I saw once where pianist & conductor Daniel Barenboim gave a masterclass, and then took questions from the audience. And he was asked whether he had actually understood Beethoven’s music when he was performing those sonatas of his at the precocious age of ten. Barenboim replied that of course he didn’t understand them fully at the age of ten; however, he added, he had been playing these works in public for some 60 or so years, and he still didn’t understand them fully! One never does understand fully works of such stature, but one has to start somewhere. And if a child is bright enough at least to start on the journey, then why not?




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