Hope you had a good summer! I spent a lot of it traveling both across North America and overseas and was glad to get back home about a week or so ago.

I have dates for the Shakespeare Reading Group through the end of the year. I hope you can make it to some of the readings. I will send reminders about a week before the reading and the readings should be a lot of fun!

We will be meeting at the Plymouth Library the following Sunday afternoons  this year:

October 24
November 21
December 19

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)

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I am excited to announce that we will be meeting to read Books 1-4 of the Fitzgerald translation of The Odyssey on Sunday, April 25 at 1:00 pm at the Plymouth Library as the next book in the Epic Poetry Group readings.

Our reading of The Aeneid was extremely enjoyable and I anticipate that The Odyssey will match up to that reading. I would strongly encourage you to come and participate in reading aloud what many people consider the greatest cohesive single work of literature extant. Especially if you have tried reading the poem on your own, but have not made it through, reading aloud with the characters speaking in different voices raises the experience to another level. There were several moments during the reading of The Aeneid when the words seemed to disappear and it almost felt like there were characters in the room experiencing things and reacting to them rather than reading from a text. Great literature has the ability to do this and I look forward to these moments during our reading of The Odyssey.

Exposure to the Odyssey also increases your ability to understand and appreciate other great works of literature like The Iliad, Ulysses, Troilus and Cressida, The Aeneid and also other paintings and poems written over the ages.

Attempts at capturing the poem visually through film fail to recreate the incredible magic of sound and sense, adventure and open vistas present in the poem, an achievement that few poets have matched. All the beauty in the poem is utterly accessible, it is not one of those difficult pleasures that literature sometimes seems to present.

Please note that this group is very reader friendly, you can choose to read minor roles or not read at all and we happily accommodate all accents, and reading abilities. Most of us in the group find ourselves becoming better readers as we read more and more selections.

I will be grateful if you mention the reading to as many people as you can including social networking sites  as I would like to throw open the magic of this magnificent poem to as wide an audience as possible.

I will post role assignments for the reading by tomorrow, hope to see you on Sunday!

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)

We will be meeting to read The Winter’s Tale at the Plymouth Library on Sunday, February 14 at 12:30 pm. Hope to see you there!

The most famous modern production of this is probably the one directed by Peter Brook with Gielgud as Leontes. I have a Caedmon CD with Gielgud as Leontes and also casts Peggy Ashcroft and Alan Bates for an incredible feast of riches.

Most of the following is based on Goddard and I strongly encourage anyone who has not read the two volumes of “The Meaning of Shakespeare” by Goddard to do so. It is quite simply among the best criticism of Shakespeare since Samuel Johnson and Coleridge.

I have to mention the fourth act of the play which brims with sheer joy of life and is one of Shakespeare’s pinnacles. Perdita (the name can be taken to imply that she is the Paradise Lost of human nature) has an infectious beauty of appearance and character that touches all who come near her. Florizel is the most articulate of Shakespeare’s princely lovers and then of course there is Autolycus who is as far beyond good and evil in his roguery as Perdita is in her innocence.

It looks like this reading will be truly delightful so please come join us and share this experience on Sunday!

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)

I am excited to announce the first reading of The Purgatorio (Cantos 1-12) at the Plymouth Library on Sunday January 31 at 1:00 pm.

 We had a wonderful reading of The Inferno last year and we will reread the last Canto of The Inferno before we start the reading. You are encouraged to come to this reading even if you did not read The Inferno with us, the second canticle very much stands on its own. In fact in Canto I of The Purgatorio, if I remember correctly, Dante’s face gets washed of the grime and mists from travelling through “Hell” so that he can make a fresh start.

The Purgatorio is definitely my favorite Canticle among the three. Although very little can outdo The Inferno for sheer vividness of description and The Paradiso for its incredible attempt to describe a dream like vision of transhuman wonder, The Purgatorio is steeped in capturing the quality of being human.

W.S Merwin captures this very eloquently in the foreword of his translation of  The Purgatorio:

“In the years of my reading Dante, after the first overwhelming, reverberating spell of the Inferno, which I think never leaves one afterward, it was the Purgatorio that I had found myself returning to with a different, deepening attachment, until I reached a point when it was never far from me . . . Of the three sections of The Divine Comedy, only Purgatory happens on the earth, as our lives do, with our feet on the ground, crossing a beach, climbing a mountain. All three parts of the poem are images of our lives, but there is an intimacy peculiar to the Purgatorio. Here the times of day recur with all the sensations and associations that the hours bring with them, the hours of the world we are living in as we read the poem.”

I hope you can join us in our journey through The Purgatorio.

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)

Thanks to everyone who showed up to read Coriolanus yesterday! I think everyone enjoyed the reading very much. A lot of the characters and events in the play seemed to suggest analogies to happenings today (tea parties, vile tribunes, war as glory) etc.

I wonder what the people in the book checkout line outside the Friends Room where we were meeting thought at hearing a bunch of sedate looking readers (playing the conspirators) chanting “Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill” in a crescendo just before Coriolanus went down :-).

We also voted for the play to be read in February and “The Winter’s Tale” came out on top. I was glad of this choice as those of us who have read the play before get to fall in love again with Perdita and Autolycus (for different reasons!).

The group encourages the participation of students in these readings. Please let any students that you think might be interested know about the readings. We have often had students from the Plymouth Canton Educational Park attending the Shakespeare readings and we hope this continues in the future too.

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)

The roles that I came up with for the end of month reading of Cantos 1-12 of The Purgatorio are given at the end of this e-mail. I would strongly encourage you to come to the reading even if you did not read The Inferno with us, each division can stand up for itself. Each of the major divisions of this great poem has a unique feel to it.

The readings of the Inferno and the Aeneid last year were among the most enjoyable literary or book group activities that the readers had ever participated in and we would love for you to enjoy this experience too if you can find the time.

Unlike the Shakespeare group, the Epic Poetry group tends to have a fair amount of discussion between sections and that greatly enhances one’s understanding of the poem.

Over the next three readings, we leave the darkness of The Inferno to spend some time in the Purgatorio, a mixture of darkness and light before moving on to The Paradiso which is all light. We will read the last canto of The Inferno aloud before we start to ease our way into the new Canticle.

I’ll see some of you for Coriolanus tomorrow and later on I will send a reminder about The Purgatorio reading!

Finally, the roles with some notes:

i) We are using the John Ciardi translation
ii) Roles are for between 4-8 readers
iii) Primary readers in a Canto (the Dante’s) will skip any speech of 3 lines or more, someone else will say that speech
iv) Explanation of notation
     a) Dante 4 (76-end) means read Canto 4 from line 76 to the end of the Canto skipping speeches of 3 lines or more
     b) Angel 9 (85-87, 91-92, 121-132) means read the Angel’s lines given  in Canto 9

Cantos 1-4
==========
1 Dante 1 (1-84), Dante 2 (67-end) *
2 Dante 2 (1-66), Dante 3 (73-end) **
3 Dante 3 (1-72), Dante 4 (76-end) ***
4 Dante 1 (85-end), Dante 4 (1-75) ****
* Manfred 3 (112-146), Virgil 4 (37-39, 61-75, 88-96, 137-140)
** Virgil 1 (52-84), Belacqua 4 (127-135)
*** Cato 1 (41-48, 85-105), Casella 2 (88-90, 94-105), Cato 2 (117-120)
**** Virgil 2 (28-36, 61-66), Virgil 3 (23-44, 52-54, 73-78, 94-99)

Cantos 5-8
==========
1 Dante 5 (1-69), Dante 6 (79-end) *
2 Dante 6 (1-78), Dante 7 (70-end) **
3 Dante 7 (1-69), Dante 8 (64-140) ***
4 Dante 5 (70-end), Dante 8 (1-63) ****
*  Pia 5 (137-143), Virgil 7 (4-8, 22-39, 49-51, 62-63), Sordello 8 (37-39, 43-45)
** A Late Repentant 5 (4-6), Late Repentant Souls 5 (46-60), Bonconte 5 (91-96, 100-135), Judge Nino De Visconti 8 (65-81)
*** Jacopo del Cassero 5 (70-90), Virgil 6 (34-51, 55-63)
**** Virgil 5 (31-36, 42-45), Sordello 7 (16-21, 40-48, 52-60, 67-69, 85-end), Virgil 8 (91-93), Conrad Malaspina 8 (112-120, 133-140),

Cantos 9-12
===========
1 Dante 9 (1-72), Dante 10 (70-end) *
2 Dante 10 (1-69), Dante 11 (73-end) **
3 Dante 11 (1-72), Dante 12 (73-end) ***
4 Dante 9 (73-end), Dante 12 (1-72) ****
* Omberto 11 (49-72), Virgil 12 (4-6, 77-84, 121-126)
** Angel 9 (85-87, 91-92, 121-132), Virgil 11 (36-45), Angel 12 (92-96)
*** Virgil 9 (46-63, 88-90), Virgil 10 (10-12, 97-99, 112-117)
**** Od’risi 11 (82-117, 121-126, 133-end)

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)

Happy New Year!

This is a reminder that we will be meeting next Sunday on January 17 at the Plymouth Library to read Coriolanus. Hope you can make it and it will be wonderful to see you there! We will start at 12:30 pm as the play is one of the longer ones with 3417 lines.

Your chances of catching this in performance are rare so this should be an especially helpful reading to anyone who has wanted to see the play. A list of some of the actors who have played Coriolanus include Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Ian McKellen, Toby Stephens, Christopher Walken, Ralph Fiennes and Alan Howard.

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)