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March 2009 - The Master of Verona by David Blixt

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Mon March 9th, 2009, 6:45 pm

[quote=""Margaret""]It's much more like Dunnett than Shakespeare, EC. The Dunnett comparison is very apt. But why don't you like Shakespeare? Is it the iambic pentameter and the archaic language?[/quote]

That's very useful to know Margaret, thank you. :)
Shakespeare and why I don't like. Hmmm... I can't say it's the archaic language because I love Chaucer!
Part of it I think is just down to taste. Iambic pentameter isn't a problem. I don't like Jane Austen. She's not a bad writer, but her 'voice' just doesn't suit my ear. So I guess I don't like Shakespeare's voice. It's too 'frilly' somehow for me. If I have to listen to it or watch it, I want to up and out of the room, screaming with boredom. The only Shakespeare I ever got on with was Macbeth, and that was because of Polanski's film and the gorgeous Jon Finch. The latter stuck my bum to the seat, but Shakespeare on his own? No chance! I have a top grade UK 'A' level in English literature and for this I had to suffer loads of the bard. I managed (goodness knows how!) to tolerate it, but it's definitely not for me. We were studying Chaucer at the same time and I couldn't wait to get into those lessons. Go figure. I'm weird. :rolleyes:
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Post by Margaret » Mon March 9th, 2009, 6:53 pm

Frilly - hmmm. That's a new one for me, but I'm thinking maybe Shakespeare's humor just isn't to your taste. Now that I think of it, there is a certain kinship between Shakespeare's humor and Jane Austen's. They both have a way of poking fun at people's foibles that might strike some as petty and/or overly forgiving of some faults that are not as petty as Shakespeare (or Austen) makes them seem. Some people just love Falstaff, for example, but he has never been a favorite of mine. When Shakespeare's characters are seriously wicked, he drops the humor. There aren't many funny moments in Macbeth.
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Post by diamondlil » Mon March 9th, 2009, 7:27 pm

EC, I haven't read much Shakespeare at all, and didn't necessarily get a lot of the references, but I loved this book, because beyond all the references to Dante and Shakespearean characters at it's heart this novel is a fantastic story!
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Post by cesco » Mon March 9th, 2009, 7:43 pm

[quote=""Margaret""]There aren't many funny moments in Macbeth.[/quote]

Well, we'll always have the Porter. And the banquet is always rather funny, if inadvertently.

Margaret and Diamondlil, thanks for chiming in, because it's hard for me to answer if a Shake-hater can like the book. My immediate answer, EC, is Absolutely. The story may have been inspired by Shakespeare, but it is very definitely HF, and not an attempt at a new play (I've read those, and they are invariably abysmal). So in my own admittedly biased opinion, the story holds up independent of the Bard. There is far more Dante than Shakespeare within those pages. (Dante-haters beware)

If it's any comfort, I LOATHED Shakespeare for years. The change came when I performed him, but I was particularly lucky - my first role was Mercutio in R&J, my second was Benedick in Much Ado, and my third was Lucentio in Shrew (these days I'm mostly playing Macbeth). With parts like those, I couldn't help but become a classical actor. But I do feel your pain. It's much the way I felt about Dante before starting the research for this novel...

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Post by Tanzanite » Mon March 9th, 2009, 8:02 pm

[quote=""diamondlil""]EC, I haven't read much Shakespeare at all, and didn't necessarily get a lot of the references, but I loved this book, because beyond all the references to Dante and Shakespearean characters at it's heart this novel is a fantastic story![/quote]

I agree with you Marg. I've never been a Shakespeare fan (probably due to the way in which it is written and I've never been fond of the play format - loved the Zeferelli movie of R&J though) and so I"m sure I missed a lot the references. I also can't read Dunnett and I really didn't think MOV was like Dunnett at all. Although maybe since I didn't get the Shakespeare references I may not have seen the similarity.

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Post by EC2 » Mon March 9th, 2009, 9:55 pm

thanks Cesco (David), Margaret, Diamondlil and Tanzanite. It's a green light then :)

Margaret, perhaps 'frilly' isn't the right right word for my antipathy towards Shakespeare. All the prithee, forsooth, twisy twasery gets to me. When I do tolerate him it's because I start taking apart the wordage looking for puns (country matters in Hamlet for e.g.) or for clues to items that we've lost (such as costards or ballows as types of apples - King Lear), or because the producers have made the play visually interesting (Polanski's Macbeth, or an outside performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream). But in that case I'm being sucked in by the visuals not all the twiddly twaddly dialogue. Hmmm... perhaps 'frilly' IS the right word! :)
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Post by annis » Mon March 9th, 2009, 10:41 pm

I think you'd enjoy "Master of Verona", EC. It's certainly not full of "'tises" and "forsooths" :) And like Dorothy Dunnett's books, it can be read on several levels; as a straightforward adventure, (well, h'mm, perhaps not quite straightforward!) or as a treasure hunt for literary references, or even better, both.

I found David's interview with Maragaret at HNI very interesting. If there are at least seventeen Shakespearean references (and possibly even more) hidden away in MOV , I've obviously got some more hunting to do. That is, if I can ever retrieve my copy, which is doing the rounds of various assorted friends and relatives.

Btw, intriguing news that an original contemporary portrait of Shakespeare may have been discovered. Despite the fact that we all think we know about Shakespeare, he is a most elusive figure when it comes to information about his life, and up till now, his actual appearance.

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Post by annis » Mon March 9th, 2009, 10:50 pm

Posted by Tanzanite
loved the Zeferelli movie of R&J though

I loved it too, it's as close to a Renaissance painting as a movie can get. I enjoyed Baz Luhrmann's interpretation immensely as well , and thought Harold Perrineau made a super-cool Mercutio.

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Post by Margaret » Tue March 10th, 2009, 4:01 am

Despite the fact that we all think we know about Shakespeare, he is a most elusive figure when it comes to information about his life, and up till now, his actual appearance.
And then there's always the intriguing theory that it wasn't Will Shakespeare at all who wrote the plays, but another even more elusive figure like the de Vere fellow or Marlowe (if he didn't in fact die in that scrape in the bar, but was actually spirited away to Italy - a theory I find absolutely fascinating and worthy of a good play itself).
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Post by boswellbaxter » Tue March 10th, 2009, 4:39 am

[quote=""annis""]Posted by Tanzanite



I loved it too, it's as close to a Renaissance painting as a movie can get. I enjoyed Baz Luhrmann's interpretation immensely as well , and thought Harold Perrineau made a super-cool Mercutio.[/quote]

I couldn't watch that one until the end. All of the camera work made my head spin--if I were prone to migraines, I'm sure it would have set one off.
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