Chris Mulvey to Celebrate Shakespeare in Paris

English Project Trustee, Professor Chris Mulvey, has been invited to lecture in Paris as the city celebrates the 400th anniversary of the death of the bard.  Chris is delighted and honored to be addressing a prestigious audience at La Mairie du Septième Arrondissement on 25th May and has entitled his talk 'William Shakeseare: A French Poet?  - A Parisian Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of his Death'.

Chris' lecture will identify what is French in the language of William Shakespeare by focusing on two of his plays: Romeo and Juliet and Henry the Fifth

Romeo and Juliet is the most romantic of his tragedies. It is the most beloved of young people because of its union of love and death. Its verse flows as freely as kisses. Its lyricism is charged equally by sexual expression and sexual repression. The language of Romeo and Juliet has the energies of Shakespeare’s erotic narrative poems and the intensities of his courtly sonnets. 

The Life of Henry the Fifth is a play that rejoices in its hero king, Henry, warrior and wooer. Henry V not only defeated the French; he went on to win the hand of Katherine, the daughter of the King of France. Henry is powerful and kingly in battle. He is playful and winning in courtship. He invades Katharine as he invades France.

Chris explains: 'French began to be an influence on the English language with the arrival of the French-speaking Norman kings in 1066. In the next five hundred years, English was massively refashioned by French so that by the time Shakespeare was born, English had become a fusion language, a mixture of the Germanic and the Italic. It would be to go too far to call Shakespeare a French poet, but without the French language Shakespeare’s poetry would be a very different poetry.'

Read the full synopsis of Chris' lecture in English or in French.