A Midsummer Night’s Reading Update

Once Upon a Time Reading ChallengeThe summer solstice is here and that means the Once Upon a Time Mythology-Folklore-Fairy Tale-Fantasy Reading Challenge has concluded. How did you all do?

Here’s my report:

    • Mythology: Classical Mythology: I’m afraid I got nowhere with this book, other than to look up the stories of Daphne & Apollo and Pyramus & Thisbe. I also read translations of both stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in my delicious Norton Book of Classical Literature, so I think that counts for something.
    • Folklore: Stories from Mexico: A light bilingual read. Good for beginners in Spanish.
    • Fairy Tale: The Princess Bride: This was a disappointment. The tone was more cynical than the film, and the attempts at backstory (troubled marriage, father-son issues) were uneven. This is a case where the book doesn’t to justice to the film.
    • Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings: I’m still enjoying my second journey through this masterpiece (what a contrast to the snarky Princess Bride!). My favourite line so far: “I’m not very, hm, bendable.” Special Bookworm Points to the first commenter who correctly identifies the speaker. (Those to whom I’ve already mentioned this are exempted (that means you, A!).)
    • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: I read most of this today and it really flew by. I have tried to watch productions of it before but got confused by the fairies and dreams and whatnot. It was a breeze to read, though, and it begs to be read aloud, which I did. I enjoyed the self-deprecating humour directed at plays and players, and this caution against the perils of imagination:

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold:
That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination
That if it would but apprehend some joy
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

The play left me with one burning question: What did Helena say?!? Act 3, scene 2, line 137, Helena is supposed to have said something which wakes Demetrius but it seems to have been left out of the published editions. Would anyone care to take a stab at it?

LysanderWhy should you think that I should woo in scorn?
Scorn and derision never come in tears.
Look when I vow, I weep; and vows so born,
In their nativity all truth appears.
How can these things in me seem scorn to you,
Bearing the badge of faith to prove them true?

Helena You do advance your cunning more and more,
When truth kills truth–O devilish holy fray!
These vows are Hermia’s. Will you give her o’er?
Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh.
Your vows to her and me put in two scales
Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.

Lysander I had no judgement when to her I swore.

Helena Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o’er.

Lysander Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.

Helena _______________________________

Demetrius O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!

I’m guessing that some comment about the mutability of love is apropos but I can’t come up with anything ‘Shakespearean.’ Bonus Bookworm Points for the best line.

Clearly there are fairies about this evening because my modem is acting up. I’ll post this while I still can and wish you all a Happy Midsummer’s Night and Day!

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14 comments on “A Midsummer Night’s Reading Update

  1. Stefanie says:

    I've tried to read Princess Bride a few times but never make it very far because the book is not as lighthearted and funny as I'd expect from the movie which I love. Would the LOTR line be something Gimli might say?

  2. Henk says:

    I guess even Shakespeare couldn't come up with anything 'Shakespearean' for the missing line, so I'm not even going to try.
    Was there actually an empty line in your edition, or did you discover it yourself?

  3. Sylvia says:

    Stefanie: Nope, not Gimli.
    Henk: Yes, there was a blank line with a footnote explaining the omission. It says, “Helena's retort, awakening Demetrius, may have been inadvertently omitted by the Q and F texts.” In a way it works as is, in an ironic way, but it also leaves “you” without a rhyme.

  4. Danielle says:

    Well, I haven't read any LOTR so I can't offer any answers. I have also not read or seen the movie of The Princess Bride. I guess I should opt for the movie? I managed to read my four books, and watched A Midsummer Night's Dream. I read along with the movie (well, more or less)–I wonder if that counts? I am happy to now understand what Titania was doing with Nick Bottom aka–man with ass's head. I had seen clips of this in other things about Shakespeare that I've watched and was a little confused. Now I can rest easy. I do plan on reading it more slowly now, though. I can only say–beware of fairies!

  5. Sylvia says:

    Oh yes Danielle, you must watch The Princess Bride. It is hilarious and very quotable. And I think you'll find AMND very easy to read, much easier than Romeo and Juliet. It's light and frothy, as befits a nuptual entertainment.

  6. Goldberry says:

    I think it was Treebeard. πŸ™‚

  7. Sylvia says:

    Correct! With a handle like “Goldberry” you would have to get that one right!

  8. Stefanie says:

    Drat! Guess it's time to re-read the books again πŸ™‚

  9. wil says:

    Happy (fixed-date) Midsummer (i.e., St. John's Day)!
    My wife read TPB as well and was disappointed. I guess it's one of those rare occasions where the movie is actually better than the book.

  10. Sylvia says:

    Uh, happy fixed date midsummer to you too!
    It's also another example, as if I needed one, that a book that starts off badly tends to stay bad right through to the end.

  11. Cris says:

    I read you all the time and now I am tagging and awarding you with the Rockin' Girl Blogger award. I'm not very technically inclined so maybe ou can make your way back to my blog and pick up the badge and ROCK ON!

  12. Goldberry says:

    I reread the Lord of the Rings last fall, and wrote down my favorite quotes. Some of them had me really laughing, because it's just hard to believe Tolkien wrote these things. Of course we know he had a sense of humor, but still!
    How do you say, “It's just not my lucky day” in a more elegant way? “Alas! An ill fate is on me this day, and all that I do goes amiss.”
    Then, the philosophical. “How shall a man judge what to do in such times? … As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”

  13. The novel of The Princess Bride, which I have not read, was written by William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie, which I have seen, and rather enjoyed.
    To say that “the book doesn't to justice to the film,” however, strikes me as slightly confusing, since the book was written more than a decade before the movie came out. Rather than saying “the book doesn't to justice to the film,” it might be more accurate to say that the film improves on the book. But I'm just being nitpicky.

  14. Sylvia says:

    Of course; it's just a manner of speaking.

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