When I was 11 or 12, I discovered a Shakespeare anthology in one of the bookshelves in my house. I picked it up, opened to the very fist play (1 King Henry VI
) and tried to read it. I did not really understand the play and found it rather pointless and unexciting (although even at that age I found interesting the portrayal of Joan la Pucelle). So I gave up on King Henry and decided instead to flip through the book and read a few sonnets. I then came to The Rape of Lucrece
. I don't remember if I was mortified by the idea of a play about rape, but I do remember finishing it and feeling pretty uneasy. Heavy stuff for a pre-teen.
It's obviously been a long time since I read The Rape of Lucrece
, but I do remember being surprised by the somewhat unexpected conclusion. I think I was too young to fully appreciate the importance of a proper depressing ending, but that's something I've since picked up on. I ought to reread this and see whether my tastes have changed in other respects too.