Wednesday, May 10, 2006

RE: 1 Henry VI - The Tragedy of Lord Talbot

I had thought my first thoughts on 1 Henry VI would be on factionalism, and perhaps questions of whether the historical personages are used only to fill the board with pieces arrayed in conflict. Also, I had thought to look at Joan as a collection of extreme observations or prejudices -- why, for instance, all the sexual slanders when Shakespeare's versions are almost always more chaste than his sources. I had not much focused on Talbot. Then came Randall's opening "essay" on "The Tragedy of Lord Talbot" which I found illuminating and convincing, and I find what I sent yesterday really only restates some of his observations without much advancing the discussion. Oh, well. But now I'm thinking of Talbot I found Alfred Harbage regretting that the Henry VI plays are so monotonously titled, especially since Henry himself is never the dominant figure in them. "1 Henry VI might well be called 'Lord Talbot and Joan of Arc'." Randall's title is more provocative.

And Germaine Greer quotes Thomas Nashe, Pierce Pennilesse His Supplication to the Divell (1592):

How would it have joyed brave Talbot (the terror of the French) to think after he had lain two hundred years in his tomb, he should triumph again on the stage, and have his bones new embalmed with the tears of ten thousand spectators at least (at several times) who, in the tragedian that represents his person, imagine they behold him fresh bleeding! (Germaine Greer, Shakespeare, 69).


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