[LMB] Group Read of Richard III 1.1

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Mon Jun 12 12:12:52 BST 2017


I've been enjoying this discussion, and sorry I've been too busy to do more
than lurk. But finding a brief window today, and picking up a couple of
points that have arisen ...

The play was demonstrably popular in Shakespeare's lifetime, with not
merely -a- quarto edition, but five quartos in his lifetime and three more
thereafter -- 1597, 1598, 1602, 1605, 1612, 1622, 1629, & 1634. The size of
the print runs is unknown, but probably 500-1000, and you didn't reprint if
you still had stock on hand, so there were strong sales in the first 2-3
years, and a pretty steady sale thereafter for some decades. Then add the
First Folio, from 1623, which sold out (probably 1000 copies) in about
eight years.

And on that opening speech, one other thing is that it's the beginning of
an almighty set-up, establishing what Anne Barton (late, great
Shakespearean) called Richard's "rock-hard I" -- the wilful, autonomous,
determined villain who careers through the play, so glibly able to say all
and do as he does. But it will all come crashing down, as it must, Richard
being not least a Vice figure, the metatheatricallly aware devilish tempter
of morality plays whose downfall and banishment back to hell was an
inevitable culmination. Some years back, after I had transcribed the Folio
text of R3 for a Kindle edition, I did a blog post about the contrast
between that first great monologue, and the later one, when Richard starts
up after his dream of the ghosts, and his 'rock-hard I' falls apart
completely. If interested, you can find the post here:

http://bracketyjack.livejournal.com > use the tag "richard iii" > second
post down (following my fic on Miles's performance as Richard).

The Tudor Myth to which Shax subscribed (Richmond being Elizabeth I's
grandfather) gets a look-in too.

-- 
John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)

Associate Member & Director of Studies in English, Hughes Hall, Cambridge
General editor, Humanities-E-Books Genre Fiction Sightlines and Monographs
www.humanities-ebooks.co.uk

*Mock-Death in Shakespeare's Plays*
The first full study of Shakespeare's favourite dramatic device

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*Tolkien's Triumph: The Strange History of *The Lord of the Rings
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The story the media *isn't* telling ...

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