Seattle Shakespeare (Etc!) Readthrough Group Message Board Archive › George Gissing's Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft --an excerpt dealing with

George Gissing's Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft --an excerpt dealing with thoughts on reading The Tempest

Paul K.
user 43986162
Seattle, WA
Post #: 1
I stumbled onto this rhapsody of delight and appreciation of Shakespeare's writing from this author of the late 19th century. It seems to express what I find myself in every reading of Shakespeare's plays, whether alone in the study or together in our Meetup group. I thought others might like to see what I've excerpted from it: --Paul

"To-day I have read The Tempest. It is perhaps the play that I love best, and, because I seem to myself to know it so well, I commonly pass it over in opening the book. Yet, as always in regard to Shakespeare, having read it once more, I find that my knowledge was less complete than I supposed. So it would be, live as long as one might; so it would ever be, whilst one had strength to turn the pages and a mind left to read them....

The Tempest contains the noblest meditative passage in all the plays; that which embodies Shakespeare’s final view of life, and is the inevitable quotation of all who would sum the teachings of philosophy. It contains his most exquisite lyrics, his tenderest love passages, and one glimpse of fairyland which—I cannot but think—outshines the utmost beauty of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Prospero’s farewell to the “elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves.” Again a miracle; these are things which cannot be staled by repetition. Come to them often as you will, they are ever fresh as though new minted from the brain of the poet. Being perfect, they can never droop under that satiety which arises from the perception of fault; their virtue can never be so entirely savoured as to leave no pungency of gusto for the next approach....

Let every land have joy of its poet; for the poet is the land itself, all its greatness and its sweetness, all that incommunicable heritage for which men live and die. As I close the book, love and reverence possess me. Whether does my full heart turn to the great Enchanter, or to the Island upon which he has laid his spell? I know not. I cannot think of them apart. In the love and reverence awakened by that voice of voices, Shakespeare and England are but one."
Robert
user 29207902
Seattle, WA
Post #: 1
Thanks, Paul. I just hustled over to my bookshelves to find my copy (It's a perfectly clean 1921 reprint!) But I must admit I've not read it yet, although I've read other works by Gissing and as I recall I bought this particular work not only because I liked his other writings but because I just could not resist the title. I'm looking forward to reading it now. I anticipate a great feast!
Robert
user 29207902
Seattle, WA
Post #: 2
I meant to say, as well, that I'm looking forward to reading this passage on Shakespeare in the context of the entire novel. Thanks, again.
Barbara
revbh
Gig Harbor, WA
Post #: 11
Lovely!

Have fun tomorrow, everyone! I'm looking forward to hearing about it.
Paul K.
user 43986162
Seattle, WA
Post #: 2
Robert, I'm pleased to know you're not only familiar with this author but own a book of his, too. Until this week I had no awareness of George Gissing. I found it very relaxing to read some of his journal entries for the Private Papers and resonating with many of his sentiments.
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