Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Richard II [#books #review]

by William Shakespeare

Henry IV, Part 1

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.

The adjective that came to my mind when I finished this book was: interesting. I'm not able to give a more enthusiastic review than that. Perhaps my reading was too affected by the comparison with Richard III, both the character and the play. This Richard the second is too inept to fascinate, too coward to make us cheer for him, all the other characters are by contrast more incisive, and even the tragedy itself is missing a bit of real action, perhaps deliberately, as if to reflect the personality of the main character.
Having said that, Richard II remains a pleasant reading, never heavy, always entertaining, and it left me with the curiosity to continue with the Henriad series.


Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster,
Hast thou according to thy oath and band
Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold son,
Here to make good the boist'rous late appeal,
Which then our leisure would not let us hear,
Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
[King Richard in the incipit]

But, lords, we hear this fearful tempest sing
Yet seek no shelter to avoid the storm. [...]
We see the very wrack that we must suffer,
And unavoided is the danger now
For suffering so the causes of our wrack.
(Act II, Scene I)

Richard not far from hence hath hid his head.
It would beseem the Lord Northumberland
To say "King Richard". Alack the heavy day
When such a sacred king should hide his head!
Your brace mistakes. Only to be brief
Left I his title out.
The time hath been,
Would you have been so brief with him, he would
Have been so brief [with you] to shorten you,
For taking so the head, your whole head's length.
(Act III, Scene III)

I thought you had been willing to resign.
My crown I am; but still my griefs are mine.
You may my glories and my state depose,
But not my griefs. Still am I king of those.
(Act IV, Scene I)

My brain I'll prove the female to my soul,
My soul the father, and these two beget
A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
And these same thoughts people this little world,
In humours like the people of this world,
For no thought is contented [...].
(Act V, Scene IV)

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