The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare (1623)

Your favourite bit, apart from A sad tale’s best for winter and she is the queen of curds and cream?

Mine’s got to be either let’s be red with mirth or If I might die within this hour, I have lived to die when I desire.

But for now let’s to a favourite theme of Willy’s showing angry middle-aged men as complete oafs. Sit back and listen to one proving it again and again.

The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare (1623)

The embarrassing, angry blindness of jealousy is fertile enough territory, but Willy makes these oafs dafter by surrounding them with elegant, dignified women who show them up something lovely.

So boys, here are three simple steps to being a boor. Hope you ne’er [good, eh?] utter them.

Leontes (King of Sicilia) takes the garibaldi.

1.

All’s true that is mistrusted…

2.

Have you not seen, Camillo, (but that’s past doubt, – you have, or your eye glass is thicker than a cuckold’s horn) or heard, (for, to a vision so apparent, rumour cannot be mute) or thought (for cognition resides not in that man that does not think it) my wife slippery? If thou wilt confess, (or else be impudently negative, to have nor eyes nor ears, nor thought) then say my wife’s a hobbyhorse; deserves a name as rank as any flax-wench that puts to before her troth-plight: say’t and justify’t.

He’s cooking.

Camillo, a lord of his court, replies with I would not be a stander-by to hear my sovereign mistress clouded so… which really sends Leontes off on one. Shudder to think of his blood pressure.

3.

Is whispering nothing? Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses? Kissing with inside lip [must try that sometime; queue’s over there]? Stopping the career of laughter with a sigh? (A note infallible of breaking honesty) horsing foot to foot? Skulking in corners? Wishing clocks more swift? Hours, minutes? Noon, midnight? And all eyes blind with the pin and web, but theirs, theirs only, that would unseen be wicked? Is this nothing? Why then the world, and all that’s in’t, is nothing: the covering sky is nothing; Bohemia [the friend who Leontes thinks is having nookie with his wife] nothing; my wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings, if this be nothing.

…were my wife’s liver infected as her life, she would not live the running of one glass.

Streuth.

So here’s your antidote.

The sweet, serene wife and Queen Hermione responding to Leontes’s later-shouted She is an adulteress! in front of all the lords and courtiers.

Should a villain say so, the most replenish’d villain in the world, he were as much more villain: you my lord do but mistake…. How will this grieve you when you shall come to clearer knowledge, that you thus have publish’d me! Gentle my lord, you scarce can right me thoroughly then, to say you did mistake.

Girls are great, aren’t they.

But she could have just called him a plonker.

Thanks for being here.

Buy The Winter’s Tale (free delivery, cardboard wrapping)

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Book Bore.

Guy Nicholls, writer and book bore.

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