I need to know everything I’m going to need to do tomorrow, today.
Let me try to rephrase that so it makes sense.
Tomorrow, I’ll be going down to campus early so I can hit the library, because it’s a long drive to campus, and I want to get all my librarying done on a day when I’d be there anyway, so I don’t have to make the drive any more often than necessary. So that means I need to figure out tonight what books I need to look for.
And that, as they say, is the rub.
Because I have no real clue. Or rather, I know one thing I need to look for. I need to see if any of the library’s copies of Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida” have notes/introductory material that will be useful to me. Because despite the play’s horrifically anti-Homeric story and brutally anti-Homeric characterizations, it is a major reoccurrence of Patroclos as Achilles’ lover, rather than merely his friend. So I naturally want to know a lot about the play’s background, how it came to be written, when and why, not to mention how Shakespeare knew about the classical interpretations of Homer to know about the love between those two (Plato, maybe?) to be able to blend some of the original myth into the awful Dares-inspired Medieval version. That’s probably asking a lot from a simple introduction. The copy I got out of the library earlier in the semester (before I found out about the Kindle app for my iPad that made the Kindle edition actually readable) had a massive introduction that I hadn’t read, planning on reading it after reading the play itself. But if its notes were any indication, the introduction was probably more interested in modern performances of the play than in the play itself. And its notes definitely indicated a lack of understanding of the difference between the real myth and the Dares version that inspired the play.
The introduction to my physical copy of the complete works of Shakespeare talked about some very odd goings-on in regards to the original publication of the play, including some stuff that made it sound like it was never actually performed, in combination with other things that said it had been performed, making for what seems to be a major mystery. From what little I know of the time period, I can come up with a number of possibilities, but they’re all nothing but theories–no, not even theories, not even hypotheses–ideas that are at least mildly plausible as possible explanations, but with zero information, I couldn’t put them in a paper except as hypothetical questions, and that doesn’t seem like a very appropriate thing to do. I do suspect that it might be significant that the initial publication rights (which were never used) were granted in 1603, the year that James I came to the throne. I have no idea, mind you, precisely how that’s significant, but it does seem like a place to start looking, y’know? There’s all sorts of possibilities there. Shakespeare might have written it for a patron who fell out of favor when the monarchy switched over, one of the characters might have been suspected of being a parody of someone who was popular with the new king, one of them might have been a parody of some well-known Catholic or an imitation of some Elizabethan stereotype of Catholics….there are a lot of possibilities there, but all they are is me tossing out wild ideas more or less tied to the kind of thing that might go on in a time of regime change. I know that James I was not as rigid a person as his son, and that both the books I read on the history of homosexuality said that he was romantically involved with men as well as women, but I have no idea if either of those things at all ties to the play’s strange publication history and nearly non-existent pre-20th century performance history. (According to the introduction, the first confirmed professional production of the play was in something like 1895. Though that introduction was written in 1974 (it’s even older than I am!) so it might have since been proven to be otherwise.) For all I know, the play was oddly published and virtually unperformed just because it was so bitter and everyone in it was an idiot, a jerk or both. Seriously, despite its pro-Trojan bent, even Hector came off badly. That alone might have been enough to make audiences rebel against it, for all I know. Certainly made it even harder for me to get through it. For the record, I am neither pro-Trojan nor pro-Greek; I find that both sides have appealing and unappealing personalities, and the real tragedy of the myth is that so many good people have to die for the crimes of others. That’s what makes the movie “Troy” so offensive: the worst criminal of the lot gets away scot-free just because they cast Legolas in the role! Er, or maybe they cast him because they wanted to let that villain escape at the end. I don’t know. It’s kind of a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” type of argument… (I guess that makes it “which came first, the awful script or the casting?”)
Oh well. This isn’t accomplishing anything. I still have to give my presentation one more going-over, and then I need to check some call numbers for the library–though I still don’t even know what I want to look for there other than a recent edition of “Troilus and Cressida”–and then I want to do some more work on my novel. Though I’m torn about what to name the new character I’m introducing. He’s the reincarnation of Pandaros–and considering how annoying Pandarus was in “Troilus and Cressida” he’s definitely going to die a horrible death so I can wreak vengeance upon his hide for making me suffer through that (he didn’t even die in the play!)–so I want the name to be at least kinda-sorta like Pandaros, but that’s actually kind of a tall order. Hah! Maybe I should drop the “Pan” part and call him Dares, after the version of the myth that ruined the story for so many centuries! Double pay-back! Okay, yeah, I’m liking that! Sweet. I definitely think best when I’m typing. Man, that’s weird…
Also weird is the fact that I’ve become so used to typing the proper Greek spelling “Troilos” that I have trouble forcing myself to type “Troilus” instead.