This is a reminder that we will be meeting to read Henry V on December 6, 12:45 pm at Plymouth District Library.Since the play is one of the longer ones with 3227 lines, we will start the reading at 12:45 pm sharp.

Andrea and Lois have volunteered to do the French speaking parts of the French Princess and Alice, thanks! At this meeting, we will also vote on what tragedy we will be reading in January: Coriolanus, Timon of Athens or Titus Andronicus.

I will send a separate reminder for the Epic Poetry group reading where we finish the Aeneid next week. The Epic Poetry Group will be reading The Purgatorio from Dante’s Divine Comedy starting in January. When we read the Inferno earlier in the year, we started to get glimpses into the structure of the awesome and enormous “cathedral of words” that Dante conceived of and I am excited that we will be exploring that a lot more with our reading of the Purgatorio.

I am currently rereading the Purgatorio right now and one of my strategies for gaining more insight into this structure is to write down all the cross-references to other cantos of the poem next to the text so that I can visit those cantos during my rereading and start understanding the structure a little more. I know most of us at the Inferno reading would agree that there is quite nothing like studying Dante, an inexhaustible activity that can reward deeper and deeper readings. Please let me know if you have similar strategies that help you understand the structure of the poem better and I will compile them and post them on the blog.

Here are role assignments for The Aeneid, Books 10-12. In making these assignments, I tried to improve the dynamics of the reading by having different speakers say things when the context is a conversation or a confrontation. I also tried my best to maintain uniformity of roles for the entire reading. Thus if you are Aeneas at the beginning of a book, I have tried to assign you the role of Aeneas throughout as far as possible, in addition of course to the Virgil-X part you might have to read.

I am learning how to do this better as I go along and might revisit my earlier role assignments to improve them. Please let me know of any corrections and suggestions.

Thanks as always for your support of the group and Happy Thanksgiving! Maybe these role assignments will give you something additional to chew on during the break 🙂

Book 10: The Death of Princes
1 Virgil-A (1-295) *
2 Virgil-B (296-605) **
3 Virgil-C (606-965) ***
4 Virgil-D (966-1276) ****
5* Turnus (386-393, 685-691, 937-952), Pallas (508-522, 579-583, 640-645)
6** Jupiter (9-21, 650-657, 851-855, 872-880), Aeneas (745-750, 783-788, 1154-1161)
7*** Venus (24-82), Aeneas (348-355, 407-412), Mezentius (1085-1089, 1184-1198, 1206-1214, 1229-1235, 1262-1272)
8**** Juno (84-157, 857-869, 882-889), Cymodocea (315-338), Magus (735-742)

Book 11: Debaters and a Warrior Girl
1 Virgil-A (1-286) *
2 Virgil-B (287-721) **
3 Virgil-C (722-1032) ***
4 Virgil-D (1033-1240) ****
5* Latinus (410-453), Prayer (657-661), Diana (726-812), Aunus’ son (957-961), Opis (1145-1156)
6** Evander (209-250), Camilla (932-936, 1119-1124), Arruns (1071-1082)
7*** Drances (170-180, 463-510), Venulus (329-400), Camilla (683-689)
8**** Aeneas (17-38, 56-79, 148-164) Turnus (514-601, 627-635, 692-706), Tarchon (994-1006)

Book 12: The Fortunes of War
1 Virgil-A (1-296) *
2 Virgil-B (297-653) **
3 Virgil-C (654-962) ***
4 Virgil-D (963-1299) ****
5* Tolumnius (356-364), Aeneas (430-436,595-602, 767-781, 1206-1212), Iapyx (582-587), Saces (884-900)
6** Amata (81-91), Aeneas (237-264), Metiscus (847-854), Jupiter (1072-1093, 1126-1140), Turnus (1266-1276)
7*** Latinus (27-63), Latinus (268-290), Juno (191-206, 210-214, 1096-1123), Juturna (314-327, 1180-1199)
8**** Turnus (14-25, 68-76, 102-115, 135-141, 493-497, 856-879, 915-923, 940-944)

Prashant Andrade (

This is a reminder that we will be reading Books 7 through 9 of The Fitzgerald translation of the Aeneid at the Plymouth District Library on Saturday, November 7, starting at 12:45 pm. We will have a couple of extra copies of the translation in case you do not have a copy. We will be in the Storytime room (lower level) this time as there were a lot of meetings scheduled in all the other rooms, November seems to be the busiest month for meetings at the library.

The Aeneid has read really beautifully so far and it surprised a few of us who were more familiar with the Homeric epics and their examination of human nature and behavior. Even though Virgil is ostensibly writing his great nationalist epic with one eye always kept towards legitimizing the rule of Julius Caesar and his son Augustus, the poet in him cannot help
sketching out wonderful and passionate men and women.

I was thrilled when after the reading of The Aeneid last month, several veterans of other book clubs at the reading commented on how there was nothing quite like this read aloud group they had ever participated in. Here is how one reader put why he loves reading epic poetry out aloud and participating in the group:

The classic epics were meant to be declaimed and heard.
Scops, bards, troubadours memorized huge swaths of
The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, Beowulf, Canterbury Tales,
Gawain and the Green Knight, The Seafarer, Pearl, Paradise Lost
and even Pound’s Cantos so they could recite them to an eager
audience.  The customs and manners of a classic age, the use
of imagery, the connection to present day humanity, the cultural
impact of these long poems, and the grand mission of the writers
are events that should not decay.  We are keeping alive their mission
by reading their works aloud and discussing them. I love being part
of the public readings of our classical heritage in an age that smacks of easy commercialism.
Bravo Virgil!  Bravo Milton!  Bravo Homer!

Mike Nader

Finally, here is a role assignment sheet for Books 7-9. If you are reading roles Virgil-A to D skip any speech of 5 lines or more as it will be assigned to someone.

Book 7: Juno Served by a Fury
1 Virgil-A (1-254) ****
2 Virgil-B (255-560) *
3 Virgil-C (561-826) **
4 Virgil-D (827-1122) ***
5* Father Faunus (125-132), Aeneas (158-178)
6** Latinus (259-280, 350-370), Juno (398-441, 452-466, 757-768)
7*** Amata (496-514, 552-557), Allecto (581-601, 623-628, 747-755)
8**** Turnus (604-613), Ilioneus (283-332), Latinus (816-823)

Book 8: Arcadian Allies
1 Virgil-A (1-247) *** 
2 Virgil-B (366-490) ****
3 Virgil-C (491-792) *
4 Virgil-D (793-992) **
5* Tibernius (48-87), Aeneas (96-107, 159-164, 173-203)
6** Evander (208-234, 248-365, 415-445, 464-473, 480-485, 631-704, 761-789)
7*** Hymn to Hercules (388-400), Aeneas (723-734)
8**** Vulcan (528-541, 589-595), Venus (497-515, 828-832)

Book 9: A Night Sortie, A Day Assault
1 Virgil-A (1-270) ****
2 Virgil-B (283-570) *
3 Virgil-C (581-833) ***
4 Virgil-D (864-1132) **
5* Iris (8-19), Turnus (25-31, 177-218, 1030-1040), Caicus (49-54), Jupiter’s mother (116-129, 162-166)
6** Nisus (252-268, 284-302, 325-340, 452-458, 571-580, 605-610)
7*** Jupiter (132-146), Euryalus (271-282, 395-411), Aletes (343-347, 351-359)
8**** Ascanius (361-393, 869-875), Euryalus’s mother (680-704), Numanus (834-863), Apollo (892-898, 911-917), Pandarus (1024-1028), Mnestheus (1082-1091)

Prashant Andrade (

Annette and I went to see a performance of Richard II yesterday by the Rude Mechanicals, a theatre group in Ann Arbor that casts mostly students as actors. There was a bit of excitement at the performance which I shall now relate.

The power went off a few minutes before the play was scheduled to start, it would have been amusing if this was the Power Center, but alas it was the Video Studio. Since they had to cancel the show and we had about 25 minutes before they had to clear the building out due to regulations, the cast decided to do as much of the play as they could as quickly as they could! That was a lot of fun with the actors perfectly enunciating the lines at double the speed. John of Gaunt assured the audience that the upcoming duel between Mowbray and Bolingbroke would unfortunately have to be stopped by King Richard as it was too dangerous to do it in double time without adequate electric lighting. I was maliciously hoping that some people who did not know the play well enough would protest at this roughshod deviation from Shakespeare’s immortal work, after all doesn’t every history play have a decent swordfight or two? I am sure the madcap Duke and King from Huckleberry Finn would have been proud of this performance!

Fifteen minutes into this, someone came in and announced that they had found an alternate venue with power (surprisingly not the Power Center) and we all went to the other venue, some people helping to carry the props. Ultimately, we got treated to almost a street theatre performance of Richard II with the ensemble in their everyday clothes. A very fashionable lot I might add, which made me look at the regular fit jeans I had on with a little bit of chagrin.

The cast used a couple of chairs and came up with stage management ideas as they went along but the performance was very effective as the power of the words came to the fore. In changing the venue, they had also lost the University of Michigan musicians (violins, cello, piano) who were going to accompany the play with tastefully done music. Instead we had Henry IV and the Duke of York improvising a hodge-podge of jazz, show-tunes and classical music parts on a piano that happened to be on stage. If you were close enough to stage right near the piano, you might have heard mutterings about how being a versatile piano player fluent in many genres was more in line with who he really was than a  usurper of thrones.

After the performance, we stumbled our way back to our cars using the light from a few solitary stars and the VA hospital.

Disclaimer: Most excellent Theophilus, the above is a faithful recording of what happened with the occasional stretcher. I’m not telling what’s true and what’s not and neither is my friend Falstaff.

Thanks to everyone who showed up to read Love’s Labour’s Lost yesterday afternoon.

I thought the reading went very well with lots of laughter all around for the more accessible witticisms. Also some beautiful poetry sitting right alongside the sonnets composed by the lovers. After participating in the Oberon group meeting on the Sonnets, I wonder if Shakespeare had sonnets on the brain and he went and wrote 150 of them, inspired quite like Don Armado was 🙂

Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme,
for I am sure I shall turn sonnet. Devise, wit;
write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in folio.

As far as I know, theses are the people at the reading who will be in Ann Arbor next weekend watching the Globe Theater Production, starting from my left: Rosey, Tom, Andrea, Pat, Erik and me.

We also voted for the play to be read at our next meeting (November 15) and Julius Caesar narrowly beat out Coriolanus.

Also, finally, here is an opportunity to take in an inexpensive performance of Richard II on the weekend in Ann Arbor at the Duderstadt Center on North Campus. We read the play last December and you will remember some of the beautiful poetry in the play. John Gielgud made some of these speeches the centerpiece of his one-man performance of Shakespeare called The Ages of Man. Annette and I will be at the Friday performance and we will see you there if you decide to come!

Richard II
October 23 & 24
Friday at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday at 3:00 & 7:00 p.m.
Video Studio

The Rude Mechanicals present William Shakespeare‘s Richard II, directed by James Manganello and produced by Rebecca Penn Noble. The Rude Mechanicals are a theater troupe dedicated to bringing staged theater to the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor community and to providing the opportunity for any member of the student body to be involved, be it in performing or behind-the-scenes work. Tickets available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office or at the door; $3 for students and $6 for adults.

Prashant Andrade (

This is a reminder that we will be meeting to read Love’s Labour’s Lost on Sunday, October 18, 12:45 pm at the Plymouth Library.

The timing for this reading worked out really well since at least five or six of the readers are going to be seeing the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre performance of the play at the Power Center in Ann Arbor the following weekend.

Most of the following is based on Goddard’s description of the play.

It was held earlier that Love’s Labours’s Lost was one of the very earliest plays because of its verbal extravagances, its pun and conceits and its profuse use of rhyme. However, today many people hold the opinion that the play was written in the mid 1590’s. Shakespeare satirizes the excesses of language for one of the last few times before he moves on to taking language to its limits of expression in his tragedies.

The play is packed with many topical allusions, many of which would be incomprehensible without a good annotated edition, so please be prepared for this at the reading. I suppose sitcoms and stand-up comedians represent our age’s brand of wit and wise-cracking and reading the play is a good exercise in imagining how the wise-cracking of our age will sound 400 years from now!

Here is a little example of Shakespeare poking fun at the excesses of language. Berowne is swearing to henceforth woo in plain and simple language, but he cannot help piling on one verbal extravagance after another in doing so. Rosaline sees this and with a simple response makes him aware of this.

O, never will I trust to speeches penn’d,
Nor to the motion of a schoolboy’s tongue,
Nor never come in vizard to my friend,
Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper’s song!
Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,
Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical; these summer-flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation:
I do forswear them; and I here protest,
By this white glove;–how white the hand, God knows!–
Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express’d
In russet yeas and honest kersey noes:
And, to begin, wench,–so God help me, la!–
My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw.

Sans sans, I pray you.

Prashant Andrade (

It was a little bit of a challenge but here are the roles for Books 4-6 that I e-mailed earlier but now divided to be done from anywhere from 4 to 8 readers. This involved dividing Dido’s earlier solo role in Book 4 to two parts, Dido-A and Dido-B.

Also thanks to Andrea for pointing out that Jupiter speaks lines 303-324 in Book 1 and not King Iarbas. The roles below correct this and also assign a few extra lines to Aeneas’s role in Book 6 as suggested by Andrea.

Please don’t worry if this seems confusing, as far as readers are concerned, you will get instructions on exactly what lines you have to read. I always have my book marked up so that I can steer things along in case of confusion.

Book 4: The Passion of the Queen
1 Virgil-A (1-265, not 12-40, not 43-75, not 131-148, not 163-177) ** *****
2 Virgil-B (266-458, not 280-296, not 303-324, not 417-454) *** ****
3 Virgil-C (500-722, not 503-538, not 577-604, not 661-689) ****** *******
4 Virgil-D (723-978, not 740-768, not 796-803, not 818-875, not 881-890, not 904-919, not 933-948) *
5* Dido-A (12-40, 417-454, 503-538, 577-604, 661-689)
6** Dido-B (740-768, 818-875, 881-890, 904-919)
7*** Anna (43-75, 933-948)
8**** Juno (131-148, 163-177)
9***** King Iarbas (280-296)
10****** Jupiter (303-324)
11******* Aeneas (459-499, 796-803)

Book 5: Games and a Conflagration
1 Virgil-A (1-282, not 60-94, not 105-110) *****
2 Virgil-B (283-585, not 389-402) ** ***
3 Virgil-C (586-857) * ****
4 Virgil-D (858-1141, not 890-899, not 940-962, not 1018-1042, not 1045-1066)
5* Aeneas (60-94, 105-110, 389-402, 890-899)
6** Nautes (919-933)
7*** Anchises’s shade (940-962)
8**** Venus (1018-1042)
9***** Neptune (1045-1066)

Book 6: The World Below
1 Virgil-A (1-330, not 92-119, not 128-147, not 156-181, not 185-225) ****
2 Virgil-B (331-574, not 502-512, not 537-548) *** *
3 Virgil-C (575-852, not 613-628, not 671-682, not 684-716, not 757-838)
4 Virgil-D (853-1222, not 970-1008, not 1014-1154, not 1157-1165, not 1171-1176, not 1179-1202) **
5* Aeneas (92-119, 156-181, 613-628, 671-682, 1171-1176)
6** Sibyl (128-147, 185-225, 502-512, 537-548, 757-838)
7*** Deiphobus (684-716)
8**** Anchises (970-1008, 1014-1154, 1157-1165, 1179-1202)

Prashant Andrade (