Thursday, November 26, 2009

Henry IV, Part I

This was a lighthearted episode, appropriate since it introduces the jolly Falstaff to the podcast. Our next episode is going to be about Shakespeare as a fictional character à la the film Shakespeare In Love.

If you would like to see the Welles film Chimes at Midnight, it is available on YouTube Here. I know YouTube is less than ideal, but there are legal issues that prevent it from being released for sale.

We also endorse this film of Henry IV. I couldn't find it on Amazon, so I am providing the link through NetFlix.

Listener Sarah was cool enough to nominate us for a podcast award, you can see the other nominees and vote for us Here.

Shakespeare In The News:
This came out after we finished recording, so I'm just including the link here: This episode of NPR's Talk Of The Nation includes a segment about bringing Shakespeare to other settings and time periods.

This is the new version of Bryson's Shakespeare: The World As Stage I mentioned in this episode
Shakespeare (The Illustrated and Updated Edition)


  1. Great episode. One of my favourite of the plays. I did this years ago as part of 'highschool' english. I had forgotten how good the character of hotspur was, probably more entertaining than falstaff really.

  2. I know, right? Looking at it from a modern point of view, Hotspur has a number of the typical 'heroic' traits, combat prowess, an unshakable will, and a general aura of awesome around him. Which is much more interesting in this setting, as he stands out so much from most of the other characters. In addition, the fact that he is the antagonist casts Hal and Henry IV in a much more negative light. If you think of him as the protagonist (which I do), the play is much more tragic (and awesome).

  3. I guess I never thought of it like that. My favourite Hotspur moment is his exchange with Glendower concerning the supernatural events that are alleged to have attended Glendower's birth. Being of a sceptical disposition myself, I find much to admire in Hotspur's willingness to challenge these ridiculous superstitions.

    I particularly like this bit:

    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

    Hotspur: Why so can I, or so can any man; but will they come when you do call for them?

  4. As for Falstaff, I like the way Shakespeare made him a character with virtually no redeeming qualities.

  5. The Glendower/Hotspur exchange is a strange one; it's a rational skeptic in a pre-skeptical world. If only all conversations between wackos and skeptics were so entertaining.

    Falstaff is a tricky one. You're right that he has no redeeming qualities, in that he has no redeeming Ethical qualities. He does have redeeming Skills though. The only way he manages to save himself is through his near endless wit, which is enough to get Harold Bloom, if no one else, to fall down in adoration of the fat knight.

  6. can I request an episode on Richard III? I've just read it and, first of all, it's an amazing play, and second of all, I'd love to hear your takes on it, especially the striking role of cursing women.

    thanks for the good work!

  7. AGREED, yes, do a Richard III episode! I'm sort of obsessed with him...

    Also, in my close reading of Twelfth Night I've steered towards Shakespeare's interpretation of feminism. I still don't understand why Katherina in "Shrew" had to be manipulated into being the perfect little housewife, but putting his plays in chronological order (assuming the dates we have are correct) he seems to progress towards believing more in the strength of women (like in Twelfth Night). What do you guys think?

  8. I'd like to do Richard III too, but I want to do the histories in order. I'm not married to the idea, but they all tie together pretty well. This means that we'd have to do Henry IV, Part II, (Which is next), Henry V, and all three Henry VI before we get to Richard III. Writing that all out makes me want to rethink my plan of doing all the Henry VI's before Richard III, at least.

    It's hard to say what Shakespeare's position is on any position, including feminism. Harold Bloom, who I'll be talking about more in the Falstaff episode, thinks that Shakespeare is the perfect feminist, and Katherina's speech at the end of "shrew" is sarcastic. I can't imagine how that can be done, to be honest.

    Like many issues for Shakespeare, I think he was better than most at his time, and that he got more progressive as he got older.

  9. Would you recommend Harold Bloom's book Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human? (I presume that's what you are referring to).

    The reviews on amazon are a bit of a mixed bag (although the average is reasonably high after 110 reviews).

  10. I have several problems with Harold Bloom. He never defines his terms, and he has an obsession with Falstaff that is truly hard to understand. "The Invention of the Human" encapsulates all of his nonsense, and it's not even close to being redeemed by his (very few) original ideas.

  11. I'll take that as a "no". Any preferred or recommended books of Shakespeare commentary/criticism?

    I was hoping for something reasonably comprehensive (i.e. that covers a lot of the plays).

  12. Hey guys,

    Just wanted to let you know that on a long car trip, the speakers on my laptop weren't working, Sims 3 failed on me, half of my songs didn't sync onto my ipod, but all of my BardCast episodes did, so thank you for keeping me entertained (perhaps my iPod, whose name is Polonius, favoured the Shakespeare-themed things...).

    One question though - I misunderstood the title 'How Shakespeare Got to Us,' thinking that it meant how you guys personally became interested in Shakespeare, and this made me wonder, how did you? I know in the first episode you mentioned not taking a lot of classes in college on him, but you seem to be at least well-read on the subject, so where did that begin?

  13. Okay one more question - How exactly do we make Amazon orders to support BardCast directly? Is it by clicking on your sidebar link? Does it only work for the Bryson book?

  14. I think the amazon thing works like this: So long as you got to amazon through our website links, then buy something, we get our percentage. We've earned credit for things that we haven't even advertised, so that's the only possibility I can think of.

  15. "Any preferred or recommended books of Shakespeare commentary/criticism?"

    You know, I just read one that seemed all right, I'm going to look it up and see if I can track it down.

  16. "A companion to Shakespeare studies, edited by Harvley Graville-Barker and G. B. Harrison"

    It wasn't amazing, but they avoided many of the shenanigans that Social Sciences people often indulge in.

  17. I really enjoyed your Henry IV part 1 and 2 episodes. As to why the play is called Henry IV and not Hal and Falstaff, maybe you just haven't seen the right Henry IV yet. There's a bbc version on youtube, with Jon Finch as King Henry IV and he lights up every seen he's in... and honestly part 2 is better than part one, mainly because they edit Falstaff's scenes way down.

    that link is beginning of the bbc version all hosted by santasclause. it's well worth the watch the best version I've ever seen and it works so much better because Henry IV is so much more sympathetic a character than in most productions.