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Monday, 15 April 2013

Coriolanus, by William Shakespeare, Reviewed.


Ah, the Bard. I’m gradually sifting through his works, reading for the sheer pleasure of his language. Coriolanus is one of his tragedies, of course. That it’s been recently filmed, (not that I’ve seen the movie) is a surprise only in that it’s a play begging to be made into a film. With the violence, treachery, wonderfully flawed hero and the battle scenes, it’s a plot made for Hollywood.

The tragedy of the eponymous hero is his combination of social pride and an inability to understand the different qualities required for the General in battle and the Consul as politician. The text is perhaps more crammed than usual with contemporary references and terms that need a scholar to interpret them for the common reader of today, so that there are subtleties I’m sure I’ve either missed or misinterpreted. But I believe I gleaned the important matter of the plot.

Coriolanus, bas relief
Coriolanus, bas relief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Not a play to be enjoyed, of course. But certainly one that informs and enlightens regarding the human condition. It’s particularly encouraging that it is the women who finally resolve the situation and prevent the ultimate tragedy for Rome itself, even if not for Coriolanus.

A play I’d like to see performed and, as I’m unlikely to find a stage performance in the near future, I can at least arrange to see the film. And I will. As a study of human failing and success, and a description of the fickleness of loyalty and its opposite extreme it packs a powerful punch. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you give it a try.

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