Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 19.33 (William Shakespeare)

King Henry IV Part I
Shakespeare, William
King Henry IV Part I

Interesting that the title format for this play differs from some of the other history plays. Here roman numerals designate which "Henry" is being referred to, whereas on the other plays the number is spelled out, as in Henry "the Fourth."

Also of note is the absence of a colon between the title and "Part I," also a feature of the other volumes. I wonder if this has to do with the edition. I know that at least two editions of this set were published, one in, I think 1918 and another in the fifties. Looks like this is the later one, published in 1954.

This volume appears in much better shape than some of the others. The binding is tight, the sun-bleaching is less significant on the spine, and the gold letter of the spine titles is more or less in perfect condition. It still looks pretty faded, though.

Of course I keep thinking of, "My Own Private Idaho." I think I was in college when I saw it. It must have been my last semester as an undergraduate. I mostly remember the mood, a kind of gray, melancholy, northwestern sky sort of feeling, everything a little damp. I also remember when the Falstaff character began spouting lines from this play knowing instantly it was Shakespeare, but having no idea which play it had come from, not having read this one myself.

I liked River Phoenix a lot. His performance in "Stand By Me" had really moved me as a teenager, probably because I had just gotten to that age where I was old enough to look back on childhood as "the past." Although i was in such a hurry to grow up and be independent that I probably started thinking of childhood in the past tense long before it actually ended.

I was sort of the black sheep of my family. It was just a given that I was the one causing trouble, whether or not it was always true. It usually was, but, as River's character in SBM says, paraphrased, why do you always have to look at me first? He's not upset about being caught, only that he gets blamed because of his reputation, an early recognition that facts are often less important to people's perception of reality than appearances built on little more than gossip and rumor...

No idea where this is going from here. How about an excerpt?

from King Henry IV Part I

Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art king, let not
us that are squires of the night's body be called
thieves of the day's beauty: let us be Diana's
foresters, gentlemen of the shade, minions of the
moon; and let men say we be men of good government,
being governed, as the sea is, by our noble and
chaste mistress the moon, under whose countenance we steal.

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