Richard III (William Shakespeare)

51rKJu4sGELWell, if this really does come as early in Shakespeare’s career as it’s said to do, it represents a sudden and very marked leap ahead of everything he’d done to that point (certainly miles ahead of the Henry VI series, to which this was the logical continuation). Also his longest play except for one he later wrote about some Danish fellow (though that’s not why it’s taken me so long to finish it, that was just me being a bit slack and doing other things). Anyway, goddamn. The king whose remains were recently found underneath a car park—a twist I don’t suppose Shakespeare envisaged—clearly inspired our playwright to come up with something more advanced than he’d produced thus far, and he delivers remarkably… and, to be sure, delivers on the propaganda side, too, solidifying the villainous hunchback image of him in popular imagination, whether or not that image was actually fair or historically accurate (and at this point in time the answer to that question is almost certainly unknowable). Hitherto Richard III has been one of those Shakespeare plays I’ve only known in a filmed version, namely that of Laurence Olivier, which I liked but it’s been so many years since I last saw it (I do have the Criterion DVD of it, but haven’t got around to watching it yet) that I don’t really recall much of it; actually reading it for the first time over the last few days has been terrific. If reading the complete works so far has been kind of trying at times, this finally feels like a bit of good payoff…

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