Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Of course, good American that I am, I'm going spend part of the day reading Henry V, quite the patriotic play. Never mind that it deals with another country...

I'm up to 3.6 by now. I must give Shakespeare bonus points for having a scene in French; that's pretty fantastic. I wonder whether his contemporary audience would've been expected to know French. I would've doubted it, but then again, Shakespeare wasn't some postmodern artiste. I expect he wrote things which he assumed his playgoers would understand. I should do further research on the subject.

Oh, and when the French King is listing all of the dukes and whatnot who should go after Henry? It really sounds like Howard Dean's speech when he named all the states. I was half expecting a "Byaaaah!" at the end. Just saying...

1 comment:

lmr said...

I found an article--"The Politics of French Language in Shakespeare's History Plays" by by David Steinsaltz:

"[U]nlike Thomas Middleton who passed off a kind of pidgin English as Dutch for comic effect in No Wit, No Help Like a Woman’s, Shakespeare did write essentially correct French, relying on its familiarity to much of his audience." (Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 - Volume 42, Number 2, Spring 2002, pp. 317).

So... it seems as though much of the audience would know French. I still need to read the entire article, though. :-)