Monday, October 13, 2014

Epic Excerpts

Last time I was here I discussed, essentially, Tyler-Rose's love of the visual elements of writing and my love of dialogue. 

So, dialogue-loving, word-hearing kind of person that I am, I thought I would share two passages of literature which are effective largely because of their use of dialogue or other spoken elements. 

First, a quote from one of King Henry's soliloquies in Shakespeare's Henry V. 

Tom Hiddleston hiding under a cloak.
Ahh, yes, the good old "king roaming his camp in disguise" trope. 
No one ever seems to tell these guys how ineffective their disguises are.
Hi, Henry.  I see you. 

(Henry, while wandering his camp in disguise (see above), has just overheard soldiers blaming him for the damnation of their immortal souls because of the battle they're going to start fighting as soon as the sun rises.) 

We must bear all.  O hard condition,
Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath
Of every fool, whose sense no more can feel
But his own wringing!  What infinite heart's ease
Must kings neglect that privates have not too,
Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?
What kind of god art thou, that suffer'st more
Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?
What are thy rents?  What are they comings-in?
O ceremony, show me but thy worth!
What is thy soul of adoration? 
Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form,
Creating awe and fear in other men?
Wherin thou art less happy, being feared,
Than they in fearing. 
What drink'st thou oft, instead of homage sweet,
But poisoned flattery?  O, be sick, great greatness,
And bid thy ceremony give thee cure! 
Thinks thou the fiery fever will go out
With titles blown from adulation? 
Will it give place to flexure and low bending? 
Canst thou, when thou command'st the beggar's knee,
Command the health of it?  No, thou proud dream.... 
(Henry V 4.1.226-250)

I just cannot stay calm when Shakespeare starts using apostrophe.  "O, be sick, great greatness, and bid thy ceremony give thee cure!"  Pretty great stuff, right? 

Right.  Well, this has been on my mind, it turns out, because in BBC's recent four-movie version of the Henry plays, "The Hollow Crown," Tom Hiddleston, who for the most part makes quite a good Henry V, DOES NOT DELIVER THIS SOLILOQUY.  They skipped it.  Just skipped it.  To my utter perplexity and dismay. 

Tom Hiddleston on a horse carrying the flag of England.
Yeah, skip the awesome soliloquy with this one.  He doesn't look like he could handle it.

But before this turns into a rant the size and vehemence of which have only been seen before when someone decided to put airships in a Three Musketeers movie, I will move on to our second Excerpt of Awesome. 

From Wolfram von Eschenbach's contribution to Arthurian romance, Parzival-- 
(Most of the book up until now has been straight narration, or very normal dialogue between characters, so this chapter opener comes as a bit of a jolt.) 

"To whom?  Who is there?" 
"I wish to enter your heart." 
"Then you want too narrow a space." 
"How is that?  Can't I just squeeze in?  I promise no tto jostle you.  I want to tell you marvels." 
"Can it be you, Lady Adventure?  How do matters stand with that fine fellow? --I mean with noble Parzival, whom with harsh words Cundrie drove out to seek the Gral, a quest from which there was on deterring him, despite the weeping of many ladies.  he left Arthur the Briton then:  ut how is he faring now?  Take up the tale and tell us whether he has renounced all thought of happiness or has covered himself with glory, whether his fame has spread far and wide or has shriveled and shrunk.  Recount his achievements in detail.  has he seen Munsalvaesche again and gentle Anfortas, whose heart was so fraught with sighs?  Please tell us--how it would console us!  --whether he has been released from suffering?  Let us hear whether Parzival has been there, he who is your lord as much as mine.  Enlihten me as to the life he has been leading.  How has sweet Herzeloyde's child, Gahmuret's son, been faring?  Tell us whether he has won joy or bitter sorrow in his battles.  Does he hold to the pursuit of distant goals?  Or has he been lolling in sloth and idleness?  Tell me his whole style of living." 
Now the adventure tells us that Parzival has ranged through many lands on horseback and over the waves in ships.... 
(Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, translated by A. T. Hatto, pg. 222) 

This one was on my mind because Tyler-Rose and I recently had to read it for our Arthurian Literature class.  (Yes, yes, we know--we're winning at college.) 

And what is this, even?  Personification of Lady Adventure, of course.  But also a kind of epic-style invocation to the muse wrapped in witty repartee? 

......and, now, before we part, you should Google image search "Lady Adventure" and cry a little bit with me.  (Don't worry, it's not gross--just not anything that Wolfram's cool writing here calls to mind...)  Someone with art skills should do a rendering of Lady Adventure that doesn't involve unicorn-rainbow-women and send it to us. 

1 comment:

  1. Everything from "Open!" through "Can it be you, Lady Adventure?" is so Gant-o'-the-Lute, I can't even.

    (And yeah, Henry; we totally see you.)