Sunday, December 7, 2008

School Books: Gallathea and The Spanish Tragedy Revisited

In preparation for my exam tomorrow, I decided to reread a few of the plays that we covered in class. Rather than rereading some of the good ones, I decided to revisit some of the plays that I didn't particularly care for the first time through.

The first play I revisited was John Lyly's Gallathea. The first time I read it, I found it strange. This time through, I thought it was a lot better. Yes, it still has some large problems. No one is properly characterized. Things don't come together as seamlessly as I think they should. Neptune randomly decides to disguise himself as a shephard for no reason at all. But this second time through, I thought it was a lot more fun. Maybe I was just a little more forgiving, or maybe it was because we analyzed it in class, but whatever the reason, I enjoyed this fun pastoral romp.

The second play that I revisited was Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy. And I have to say, it was just as terrible the second time through! The only improvement in reading it the second time was that it was a bit easier to understand; my first time through it I had a hard time figuring out what was happening and why. This time through I understood everything perfectly, but the whole plot was still rather stupid. For one thing, the play is unnecessarily long. For another, there are large chunks that are terribly written! ("Speak thou fair words, I'll cross them with fair words;/Send thou sweet looks, I'll meet them with sweet looks;" II.iii, 34-5. What the heck kind of lines are these?) Oh, and my version has a whole bunch of additions, which are actually worse than the original written parts. However, I will say that the ending of the Spanish Tragedy is still pretty insane. That's about the only thing in the entire play worth reading.

So, to make a long story short, Gallathea is definitely worth a second look, while, in my opinion, the Spanish Tragedy is not.

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