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Thursday 10 December 2015

Rheumy eyes an advantage?

In politics, "knocking" isn't enough; you must persuade. FDR knew this, so did Churchill and de Gaulle, even Hitler and Mao did initially. Stalin alone didn't need to.

In WS's Julius Caesar, Brutus and others kill Caesar "for love of Rome". At the funeral Brutus explains Caesar was ambitious.

Mark Anthony, Caesar's friend, speaks under severe restraint. In a speech most of us find almost too familiar traditional Antonys (eg, Brando in the movie) seize the oft-repeated line that the killers are "all honourable men" and speak the adjective sneeringly. It isn't enough.

The speech is only 28 lines and in my revelatory Caesar from the BBC's complete boxed set, actor (Keith Michel; never better) and director, Herbert Wise, break it into innumerable - but logical - fragments, with Michel plausibly pausing, speaking “honourable” normally, moving within the crowd. The scene lasts ten well-spent minutes; we watch the crowd, pro-Brutus at first, changing with time - being persuaded.

I've seen several Caesars and last night recognised this difference for the first time. Two points: no one with literary pretensions should lack this boxed set. Second, old age brings rheumy eyes but they may work better than clearer youthful eyes.

Hardline Hope, a novel (6310 words)
Lindsay followed her own instructions (about getting into the car).... The movements were continuous, slightly erotic and self-evidently efficient.

“See that, Jenson,” said Gayle. “Now you could say I’m at the tipping point. I could very well place an order. No promises but it’s in the balance. You’re a smart larrikin, Jenson. What’s your next step?”

Jenson’s smile was rueful. “Steal away. Like the Arabs with their tents.”

“Good on yuh, J. Hope I haven’t been too hard.”

He even managed to walk to the showroom with some dignity.

1 comment:

  1. I have just finished "Dictator" by Robert Harris. It is essentially a fly on the wall biography of Cicero but incorporates all the "J. Caesar" period. Fascinating and recommended.