Blog tour: Cold Fire + competition

Welcome to my date on the Cold Fire blog tour! 

Having enjoyed the first book in the Shakespeare’s Moon series (you can find my review of The Invisible Hand here), I was looking forward to reading the second act… and it definitely lived up to my expectations!

My review, however, can wait. Today I have something more delicious in store for you!

Please welcome author James Hartley as he answers the question…

Do you really know Romeo and Juliet?

Romeo and Juliet is one of those plays that everyone thinks they know. The star-crossed lovers, the double suicide, the balcony scene and “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” Often, though, the things people think they know turn out to be false and even the truths they´ve seen repeated in countless film and stage versions don't stand up to scrutiny.

First, a few simple questions:

How old is Juliet in the play? How long have she and Romeo known each other when they get married? Over what course of time does the action in the play take place?

Questions like these reveal aspects of the play we might otherwise pass over (and which are certainly passed over by many modern directors and teachers). To answer: the action in Romeo and Juliet takes place over the course of a single week. Juliet, who is thirteen in the play, decides to elope and marry Romeo (and, yes, they consummate the marriage, too) after they have known each other a mere twenty-four hours.

With those facts in mind, imagine pitching Romeo and Juliet as a book, play, film or TV series these days?

“Yeah, it's about two young lovers - she's thirteen, he's a bit older but about the same - who meet at a dance (he's looking for his girlfriend), run away and get married and make love, all within twenty-four hours. Back in town, he murders her cousin and gets sent away, so, heartbroken, she goes to sleep but when he comes back he thinks she's killed herself and kills himself but then she wakes up, because she was only sleeping, right, and sees he's killed himself, she actually does kill herself. Oh, and all this happens in a week.”

Even some of the most iconic characteristics of the play might not be quite what we think. The famous balcony scene, for example, was very unlikely to have been set on an actual balcony as balconies were largely unknown to the English in Shakespeare's day and were only popularised, especially in the theatre, much later. Shakespeare's own text talks simply of a 'window'.

And what does Juliet´s famous line “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo” actually mean? 

'Wherefore' in this case doesn't mean 'where' but 'why'. So Juliet is actually lamenting “Romeo, Romeo, why are you Romeo”? Google is probably best at helping you get to the bottom of what that actually means but, for my money, she's simply saying, “you could have been anyone and you had to be one of them”. A dreaded Montague.

The balcony scene and the misreading of famous lines goes hand in hand with two other popular Shakespearian misconceptions, that of the accent Shakespearean actors would have spoken in and the actors themselves. These days we are used to very well-spoken deliveries of Shakespeare's soliloquies and witty interchanges but at the original Globe you would have heard something more like a rural Devon accent. And Juliet herself, up there on stage, declaring passionate love for her Romeo, would have been a young boy. Women and girls were banned from acting on the stage.

And so it goes on. Perhaps one of Shakespeare's greatest tricks was to make his plays malleable enough to be applicable to each age they have been performed in since. The plays are human, the characters flawed and real. The action too, is relentless. All that makes the plays ageless, no matter how much we misinterpret them.

I hope you enjoyed this special post! The blog tour has just started so please feel free to follow its journey via all the great blogs below:

Plus, don’t forget to enter the giveaway* at this link. You could win one of 5 signed copies of Cold Fire with a special tactile pen!

*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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