April 23rd, 2016

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Interesting Links for 23-04-2016


Saturday reading

Watership Down, by Richard Adams (a chapter a week)
Het Spaanse Spook, by Willy Vandersteen

Last books finished
JN-T: The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner, by Richard Marson
1491, by Charles C. Mann
Thing Explainer, by Randall Munroe
Gorgon Child, by Steven Barnes

Next books
Banewreaker, by Jacqueline Carey
The Quarry, by Iain Banks
Lila, by Marilynne Robinson

Books acquired in last week
A Ship Is Dying, by Brian Callison

30 days of Shakespeare: Day 5 - your favourite villain

It's Shakespeare's birthday! Or at least, the 400th anniversary of his death. What better day to celebrate his greatest villain, Richard III?

Part of the attraction of Hamlet is that we don't really understand him, and he doesn't understand himself. Part of the attraction of Richard III is that he understands himself perfectly well, and explains himself to us. He deceives and seduces the other characters one by one, and although he doesn't deceive us the audience, he certainly seduces us. His mistake of leadership is quite different from his rival Henry VI and his brother Edward IV, both of whom prove in different ways too lightweight for the burdens of office. He is less subtle than his father, who held back in Ireland and let his rivals for power and his proxies eliminate each other. His mistake is that once he has achieved his originally quite limited agenda - to get rid of Henry, Edward, Clarence and the princes - and reached the throne, he just can't stop killing people. His public and hypocritical piety contrasts nicely with Richmond's more modest and circumspect approach. His gradual disintegration into a haunted wreck of a man is chilling. In the hands of a good actor, it's just mesmerising.

If you want to boggle a little at screen treatments, have this trailer for the 1955 Olivier version:

But for me, nothing beats Ian McKellen, taking the story to the mid-twentieth century, the most recent period that two brothers contested (genteelly, in our timeline) the throne of England:

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