March 29 2012

Congee, finished reading of Richard Duke of York (Henry VI Part 3).

In Henry VI Part 3, after a rather weak start (“I wonder how the King escaped our hands”), the drama steadily intensifies and the characters, notably Richard (Crookback, son of Richard of York) at one pole and Henry VI at the other seem to become more vivid through the writing of the play without disturbing Shakespeare’s dramatic architecture. The results in a climax probably unintended and unforeseen when out of the clash of the two houses springs two polarities: absolute evil in Richard, and too “good” for this fallen world in Henry.

The first half of the play resembles Henry VI part 2 which according to both Wells and Taylor’s new chronology and the traditional chronology was created before part 3.

However, Wells and Taylor would have us believe that Henry VI Part 1 was written after part 3: this completely fails to explain the fact that Henry 1, 2 and most of 3 are jumble sales of clever scenes (mad Countess and her homunculus, most scenes that include Joan la Pucelle, “a miracle” in part 2 and even the Henrician pastorale of “this battle fares like the morning’s war” segueing into the father-son killings. All of these show that Henry 3 was written last for towards its end a typical Shakespeare architecture appears: Ted Hughes’ “tragic equation” in which Shakespeare tries (like Harvey Keitel as a police detective hunting down Thelma and Louise) to rescue the good while Richard emerges from a larger more architectonic second half demanding his own play.

One is “present at the creation” of Shakespeare as dramatist in this play.

Shakespeare’s search for a Good Father finds that the Father limits the Good. To preserve his material legacy for his sons, the father must in a fallen world engage in force and fraud, and the only Plantagenet to do so after Edward II was Edward III. Henry V did so but had hard luck in dying of dysentery.

Workout record: 20 minutes rowing machine March 27: 30 min March 28. Plan: 20 minutes today afternoon.

Hmm, steak sauce doesn’t work well with congee at all.

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