When I was a little girl I remember owning two comics, both of classical stories, The Fall of the House of Usher and Jane Eyre. I also seem to recall Oliver Twist as well. Where these came from or if I had any more such, I have no idea. These three are just enshrined in my memory, mainly because they led me on to getting the books out of my local library and reading them. I failed with the Fall of the House of Usher, but succeeded with the Dickens, thus ensuring my life long delight in his works and, though I initially stumbled through Jane Eyre not understanding half of it, my total and utter enslavement to this book started then and has continued throughout my reading career.
I really dislike using the word 'accessible', particularly where music is involved and know that a bit of musical snobbery creeps into my psyche where certain cross over artists etc are concerned, though I try to fight it, but when it comes to books, I am much more tolerant. Perhaps I want to keep my music to myself but want everyone to read - that is a thought I need to spend some time dissecting, I think.
Rambling a bit, but the whole point of this preamble is to introduce Classical Comics who are producing, well, Classical Comics, with Jane Eyre and Great Expectations lined up for Spring 2008. I wrote to them when I heard about these two on another blog and received a lovely email from Karen, their Managing Director, promising to let me have copies to review in due course. In the meantime, she has sent me a 16 page advance preview of their November 2007 publication, Henry V.
It is being produced in three different formats, the Original text which is unabridged, Plain Text which is much simpler and then Quick Text which is just what it says it is. So, the opening of the Prologue in these three texts reads like this:
- 'O for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention'
- 'It would be great to have some goodness of creative fire, to help us enact this play with a true representation'
- 'If we had some help from the Gods, we could give a better performance of this play'
Now, I know full well which one I prefer, the first, but that is because I studied this play at school and loved it and was brought up on the Laurence Olivier film, which I now have on DVD, with which I am very familiar. Regular readers of this blog may remember that I have only just rediscovered Shakespeare after a totally wasted 30 years finding him impenetrable and struggling with his language, so I am not going to decry anything that might make him more accessible and yes, only that word will do in this case.
My falling in love with Will again had a lot to do with attending the Globe Theatre on the South Bank, and then the wonderful Sir Michael Gambon as Falstaff at the National Theatre. Sir M, in particular, made the text totally and utterly understandable for about the first time in my life, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it all and this led me to take a short Open University Course on Shakespeare where I studied Romeo and Juliet and the Taming of the Shrew. Once again, much though I love both these plays, I found myself struggling with the language and had to really concentrate hard to get the best out of it, which I did in the end and which I found fascinating and worthwhile. It is very brave of Classical Comics to tackle Shakespeare straight away as I am sure some there will be arguments for and against such a way of introducing the Bard (see link here ) but I really really like the look of this and cannot wait to receive my promised review copy.
Apropos of nothing, the Kenneth Branagh's film of Henry V was on the TV the other week and try as I might, I could not take to it. Loved him later in Much Ado about Nothing, but Henry - oh no. If I remember rightly this film was made when he was being touted as the 'Next Olivier' and the papers were in their full Ken and Em mode as the next golden couple which I found irritating and probably coloured my judgement, but now that all this has passed, I still had the same reaction on watching it again.