100 Books in 2011 review: Philaster

OK, this was a bit of cheat. I wanted to read something short to help meet the 100 books goal. So I found a little book called Philaster by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. I’ve had this for about fifteen years (it was my grandparents’ originally) and never read it. The edition I have was published in 1898 and is really cute.

It is a play. It is about love, mistaken identity and inheritance. Philaster is the diposessed heir to the throne, in love with the daughter of the usurper who is supposed to marry someone else. The young boy they use as a go between is really the daughter of another lord who is in love with Philaster.

This was fairly light. It’s all about dialogue and there’s almost no worldbuilding. I don’t read a lot of plays and when you watch them you have all the visual elements to fill in a lot. So it feels like there’s not a lot to talk about. I did like it, the dialogue fairly cracked along despite the fact that it’s early 17th century English.

What I particularly noted was that the dialogue conveys a lot of passion. This is an emotional drama and it was useful and instructive to look at how that was achieved. The words put in the characters mouths, the choice of metaphor and the use of repetition all built up intense conversations.