lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bard games

It began as a quest for a post title. After mulling over a few, I turned to the evergreen option, the Swan of Avon.

"All the world's a stage," I said, "would make a nice title." "As You Like It." He said. "That's the drag play, isn't it?"

"Double-drag," I grinned. "It was all men those days, right, so a man playing a girl dressed up as a boy is double-drag."

"But you rely too much on Shakespeare, Lali," he said. I agreed that I do. I argued that it's because I know the plays through crosswords. Quotes of the Bard, plays and characters in any given play, all feature in crosswords as themes, after all. Solving them has given me a wealth of knowledge about Shakespeare. I said as much.

Not as much as actually reading the plays, he argued. That too, I allowed, but maintained that cryptic crosswords and Jeeves and PG Wodehouse are better for remembering Shakespeare quotes and plays.

"I bet you can't recite them all, though." He said, rather rashly. "You are on." I said, in a flash. He had a convent education, so he thinks he knows his Shakespeare. I don't have much education, but I know my crosswords, after all.

"All's Well That Ends Well," he said. "Antony and Cleopatra," I said. "As You Like It," he conceded. "Comedy of Errors," I countered.

"Coriolanus, hmm, does anybody read that?" "Literature students, perhaps. Cymbeline." I said.

"Hamlet, Prince of Denmark," we said in unison. "That's a rich source. You can find umpteen quotes from Hamlet." I said. "There are more things, Horatio," he said.

"Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love." He added wickedly.
"This is the very ecstasy of love," I giggled.
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks".
"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason!" I sniffed.
"Get thee to a nunnery."
"That it should come to this," I countered.
"A hit, a very palpable hit," he conceded. I grinned.

"Henry the fourth," he said. "Part one," I said and beat him to it by reciting, "part two and then Henry the fifth and Henry the sixth part one."

"Turn and turn-about. Play fair, Lali," he admonished. "Parts two and three, Henry the sixth," he said. "Henry the eighth," he added.

There was a break in the recitation as we considered if Tony Blair would apologise for the abominable way Henry the eighth treated his wives.

"Julius Caesar," he said as we finished sniggering. "Ides of March," I mused. "Friends, Romans and countrymen," he said. "The evil that men do," I said. Another great source for quotes and post titles, we agreed.

"King John," I said. "Does anyone read that?" "I did, strong reasons make strong actions, so there."

"Bah, King Lear," he said.

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child and all that," I said. We considered our child and agreed that it doesn't apply. "But there are better speeches and quotes there, Lali," he said. "I am a man more sinned against than sinning." "So young, my lord, and true," I taunted. "Howl, howl, howl, howl!" he countered. "Nothing will come of nothing." I agreed.

"Love's Labour Lost."

"Ah, " we said together. There is a wealth of quotes there. "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day." I said. "Worthy of Wodehouse, that piece of writing," he said. We remembered "Over Seventy" and laughed.

"Measure For Measure."
"Merchant of Venice. The man that hath no music in his soul…"
"Spare me, honey." I begged. "The quality of mercy," he chuckled.
"Merry Wives of Windsor."
"Midsummer Night's Dream."

"Ah, what fools these mortals be. Much Ado About Nothing."
"I never read that." " Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, men were deceivers ever," I said.

"Othello, another huge source," he said. "Umm. Pericles, Prince of Tyre," I said. "Richard the second and Richard the third, " he said. "Romeo and Juliet," I sighed. We contemplated the play.

"Taming of the Shrew," he went on. "The Tempest," I countered. This was getting close now. We were running out of alphabet and he hadn't missed a play yet.

"Timon of Athens." He said. I swallowed a groan. I was hoping he wouldn't remember it. "Titus Andronicus," I said.

"Twelfth Night," he said. "Gotcha!" I crowed. "You forgot Troilus and Cressida." "I never read it," he sighed.

"Two Gentlemen of Verona and the Winter's Tale." I gloated. "See, doing crosswords is good for something, I tell you."

"A hit, a very palpable hit," he said glumly.



Blogger Priya said...

Are these the sort of games you induslge in on nippy, Sunday afternoons? Tchyaa;)
Hang on, lemme send G with her.

4:16 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

*whisper* May I gently nudge you towards The Rape of Lucrece?

Lali, you and K never cease to astound me. The Shakespeare repartees are brilliant! Nothing I'd have been able to come up with, and me a litt. postgrad too.

*much applause*

4:38 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

@Rimi- The Rape of Lucrece is a narrative poem, doesn't count as a play.

What games you play, Lali, you and the Resident Mathematician. There were so many quotes you ignored, though.

5:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?"

Secret admirer

7:19 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- Stop trying to wrangle my services as babysitter, angel. Distance counts, after all. But, yeah, these are the games we play.

Rimi- Princess, what can I say? I know it's been performed and all that but The Rape of Lucrece is not a play.

Have you read Hazlitt's criticism of Venus and Adonis and the Rape of Lucrece?

Ash- Look, there are limits, after all. We quoted away at each other ad nauseum but if I tried to accommodate and do a verbatim reproduction of an hour long game/chat/dialogue whatever... There are limits, no?

Anon- Hmmm. But get a name.

10:51 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Over Seventy? What is the Wodehouse reference, Auntie Lali?

K lost in quotes, too. Hah!

2:20 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

That's an omnibus volume of Bring on the Girls and Performing Flea. Also autobiographical essays. He talks about the quote there. I don't have the book to give better details, sorry.

Desist with the Auntie Lali business, please.

4:32 pm  

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