Book – King Hereafter – Retelling MacBeth

In Dunnett’s unique retelling of the Macbeth story  most resemblance to Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Play’ is purely incidental. Like the re-visioning of the Arthur tales by Bernard Cornwell, Mary Stewart,  and many others, the
barebones of what we think we know of the story become mere background whispers. Here, the death of Duncan occurs as a minor tremor in the plot. Instead, we’re dropped into the tightly wound world of medieval politics, trade and family feuding so familiar from Dunnett’s two historical fiction series – the Niccolo and Lymond books.

Once again, her hero is an underestimated young man, bright and adept in both trade and politics. This time the setting is the northern portion of Great Britain, the Orkneys and Scandinavia at the height of the Viking successor empires. They squabble to control Denmark and England culminating, after this narrative, in 1066 and all that. Tight, intricate
plotting is her trademark, and once more, allegiances and kingdoms bloom, thrive and then are shattered in the course of a paragraph. And there are the expected setpieces – races along the oars of speeding Viking longships, and ice skate
races in the wintry Orkneys. The only downside is that this is a standalone tale, with no sequels. Never light reading, Dunnett is at the top of my list of historical novelists.

Among the other ideas she incorporates are the  concepts of the pre-capitalist, pre-mercantilist kingdoms [in Philip Bobbitt’s terms, Princely states rather than Kingly states as described in The Shield of Achilles, ] where the ‘monarch’ might actually hold little land. His power relied on holding together an amalgam of territories that had no natural borders. Instead ties of tribal nature still held, while the mechanism was held together by new economic concepts like cash money:

Nowadays, money was something all men had need of. The church required it, to pay armies to push the Saracens back in the Mediterranean; to fight off the heathenish tribes of the Baltic; to establish churches and send her missions
abroad. Kings required it, to bribe their enemies and to pay their friends for services rendered where land was wanting or inappropriate; to hire fleets with, and foreign fighting-men; to buy the luxuries that their status demanded.

And since not every country could make money or, having made it, could protect the place where it was kept, a trade in money was always there: money that did not go rotten or stink or require great ships to carry it backwards and forwards, or fail altogether if the weather was bad or some tribe of ignorant savages wiped out the seed and the growers. Money which grew of its own accord: in Exeter, in Alston, in the Hertz mountains where the Emperor Henry had made his new’palace

 

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream .. For aught that I could ever read,// Could ever hear by tale or history,// The course of true love never did run smooth.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Titania What angel wakes me from my flow’ry bed?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream .. Lord, what fools these mortals be!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream .. I’ll put a girdle round about the earth// In forty minutes.
All’s Well that Ends Well .. He must needs go that the devil drives.
As You Like It .. Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.
As You Like It .. My pride fell with my fortunes.
Comedy of Errors .. Let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.
Hamlet .. A little more than kin, and less than kind.
Hamlet .. And then it started like a guilty thing// Upon a fearful summons.
Hamlet .. Brevity is the soul of wit.
Hamlet .. Frailty, thy name is woman!
Hamlet .. O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,// Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!// Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d// His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!// How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable// Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Hamlet .. Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not ‘seems.’// ‘T is not alone my inky cloak, good mother,// Nor customary suits of solemn black.
Hamlet .. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Hamlet .. Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.
Hamlet .. Unhand me, gentlemen.// By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!
Hamlet Hamlet The dread of something after death,// The undiscovered country, from whose bourn// No traveller returns.
Hamlet Hamlet Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats// Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
Hamlet Ophelia God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another.
Hamlet Polonius Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.// Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,// Grapple them to thy soul with hoops 6 of steel.
Hamlet Polonius Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;// Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.// Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,// But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;// For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
Hamlet Polonius Neither a borrower nor a lender be;// For loan oft loses both itself and friend,// And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.// This above all: to thine own self be true,// And it must follow, as the night the day,// Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Henry IV, Part 1 Hotspur [Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.]// // Why, so can I, or so can any man// But will they come when you do call for them?
Henry V .. Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.
Henry V King Henry Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,// Or close the wall up with our English dead!// In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man// As modest stillness and humility;// But when the blast of war blows in our ears,// Then imitate the action of the tiger:// Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.
Henry V King Henry This day is called the feast of Crispian:// He that outlives this day and comes safe home,// Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,// And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
Henry V Chorus O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend// The brightest heaven of invention,// A kingdom for a stage, princes to act// And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Henry V King Henry We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.// For he today that sheds his blood with me// Shall be my brother; be ne’er so vile,// This day shall gentle his condition.// And gentlemen in England now abed// Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,// And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks// That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Julius Caesar .. But, for my own part, it was Greek to me.
Julius Caesar .. Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war.
Julius Caesar .. Et tu, Brute!
Julius Caesar .. How many ages hence// Shall this our lofty scene be acted over// In states unborn and accents yet unknown!
Julius Caesar .. Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.
Julius Caesar .. Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause, and be silent that you may hear.
Julius Caesar .. There is a tide in the affairs of men// Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;// Omitted, all the voyage of their life// Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Julius Caesar .. This was the most unkindest cut of all.
Julius Caesar .. This was the noblest Roman of them all.
Julius Caesar .. When beggars die, there are no comets seen;// The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
Julius Caesar .. When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:// Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Julius Caesar .. Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world// Like a Colossus, and we petty men// Walk under his huge legs and peep about// To find ourselves dishonourable graves.// Men at some time are masters of their fates:// The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,// But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Julius Caesar Antony For Brutus is an honourable man;// So are they all, all honourable men.
Julius Caesar Antony O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,// That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!// Thou art the ruins of the noblest man// That ever lived in the tide of times.
Julius Caesar Brutus As he was valiant
Julius Caesar Caesar Let me have men about me that are fat,// Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o’ nights:// Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;// He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Julius Caesar Soothsayer Beware the ides of March.
King Lear .. A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark, in thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?
King Lear .. Ay, every inch a king.
King Lear .. Child Rowland to the dark tower came,// His word was still,–Fie, foh, and fum,// I smell the blood of a British man.
King Lear .. I am a man// More sinn’d against than sinning.
King Lear .. Mine enemy’s dog,// Though he had bit me, should have stood that night// Against my fire.
King Lear .. Oh, that way madness lies; let me shun that.
King Lear .. The worst is not// So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.’
King Lear Lear Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
King Lear Lear How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is// To have a thankless child.
King Lear Lear Nothing will come of nothing.
King Lear Lear Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,// The gods themselves throw incense.
King Lear Lear Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery!// No, the wren goes to ‘t, and the small gilded fly// Does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive.
Love’s Labour’s Lost .. A man of sovereign parts he is esteem’d;// Well fitted in arts, glorious in arms:// Nothing becomes him ill that he would well.
Macbeth Lady Macbeth But screw your courage to the sticking-place// And we’ll not fail.
Macbeth Macbeth Lay on
Macbeth Macbeth If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well // It were done quickly.
Macbeth Witches Double, double toil and trouble;// Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Macbeth Witches Eye of newt and toe of frog,// Wool of bat and tongue of dog,// Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,// Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,// For a charm of powerful trouble,// Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Merchant of Venice .. God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.
Merchant of Venice .. It is a wise father that knows his own child.
Merchant of Venice Antonio The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
Merry Wives of Windsor .. If there be no great love in the beginning, yet heaven may decrease it upon better acquaintance, when we are married and have more occasion to know one another: I hope, upon familiarity will grow more contempt.
Merry Wives of Windsor .. This is the short and the long of it.
Merry Wives of Windsor .. We burn daylight.
Merry Wives of Windsor .. Why, then the world’s mine oyster,// Which I with sword will open.
Merry Wives of Windsor Sir John Falstaff God defend me from that Welsh fairy,// Lest he transform me to a piece of cheese!
Much Ado About Nothing .. As merry as the day is long.
Much Ado About Nothing Claudio Let every eye negotiate for itself,// And trust no agent.
Othello Iago Horribly stuffed with epithets of war.
Othello Othello ‘Tis the soldier’s life// To have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.
Othello Cassio O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause transform ourselves into beasts!
Richard II .. And my large kingdom for a little grave,// A little little grave, an obscure grave.
Richard II .. And nothing can we call our own but death// And that small model of the barren earth// Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.// For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground// And tell sad stories of the death of kings.
Richard II .. Comes at the last, and with a little pin// Bores through his castle wall–and farewell king!
Richard II .. Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs.
Richard II .. Not all the water in the rough rude sea// Can wash the balm off from an anointed king.
Richard II .. O, call back yesterday, bid time return!
Richard II John of Gaunt This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,// This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,// This other Eden, demi-paradise,// This fortress built by Nature for herself// Against infection and the hand of war,// This happy breed of men, this little world,// This precious stone set in the silver sea,// Which serves it in the office of a wall// Or as a moat defensive to a house,// Against the envy of less happier lands,–// This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
Richard III Gloucester Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;// And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds// To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,// He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber// To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
Richard III Gloucester Now is the winter of our discontent// Made glorious summer by this sun of York,// And all the clouds that loured upon our house// In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.// Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,// Our bruised arms hung up for monuments,// Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,// Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Richard III Gloucester But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,// Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;// I, that am rudely stamped, and want love’s majesty// To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;// I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,// Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,// Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time// Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,// And that so lamely and unfashionable// That dogs bark at me as I halt by them,–// Why, I, in this weak piping time
Richard III King Richard A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
Romeo and Juliet .. A plague o’ both your houses!
Romeo and Juliet .. An hour before the worshipp’d sun// Peered forth the golden window of the east.
Romeo and Juliet .. Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,// That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
Romeo and Juliet .. Too early seen unknown, and known too late! // The weakest goes to the wall.
Taming of the Shrew .. And thereby hangs a tale.
Tempest .. Full fathom five thy father lies;// Of his bones are coral made;// Those are pearls that were his eyes:// Nothing of him that doth fade// But doth suffer a sea-change
Tempest .. Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.
Tempest .. Our revels now are ended. These our actors,// As I foretold you, were all spirits, and// Are melted into air, into thin air:// And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,// The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,// The solemn temples, the great globe itself,// Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,// And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,// Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff// As dreams are made on; and our little life// Is rounded with a sleep.