Henry V, in…Japan?

From Dreaming Spies:

That every wretch, pining and pale before,

Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks;

A largess universal, like the sun
His liberal eye doth give to every one,

Thawing cold fear . . .
A little touch of Harry in the night.

Henry V

At the early stages of a book, a writer plays with a lot of pieces to this puzzle she’s designing, trying to decide how they might fit together. Japan: yes, that’s an early decision, to set one part of the book there, in 1924. And I’ve mentioned elsewhere that Russell and Holmes were working for “the emperor of Japan”, so someone of that description needs to play a part. And something that can not only tie Japan to Oxford, but Basho’s poems and Hokusai’s art as well, and—

Henry V.

What? Of course not, go away and let me work. The old post roads between Tokyo and Kyoto: those link the poet and the artist, and also link Japan and Oxford, so—

Henry V.

Oh for heaven’s sake, what does Shakespeare have to do with this? I’m writing a mystery novel, for heaven’s sake, set in 1924 Japan and—

Henry V. A young king and his old fool. A call to battle that rings across three hundred years to stir the blood of another generation of young men going to war in France. A discussion of the nature of kingship…

What? Oh. Well.

So, Henry V it is, then.

* *

6 days until Dreaming Spies! Other posts about writing and researching the book can be seen here, or you can read a long excerpt here

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  1. Merrily Taylor on February 11, 2015 at 6:49 am

    And in the context of your story, it works!

  2. Sabrina Flynn on February 11, 2015 at 8:33 am

    As Merrily said, it does work very well! I loved that aspect of the story. Very subtlety done.

  3. Heather Simmons on February 11, 2015 at 9:55 am

    This is perfectly logical. After all, in the ACD Books all the Holmes’s best lines come from Henry V.

  4. The Bold Flying Officer on February 12, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Afore he ascended the throne as Henry V, he was Prince Hal and the Old Fool was Falstaff – playing with a bit of rough, to use the vernacular. “Banish not him your Harry’s company … banish plump Jack and banish all the world”. That was the Henry IV part One. I shall read the forthcoming tome with interest to see who takes the parallel role.

    TBFO (Bardolph, companion to Falstaff, in the 1967 Bournemouth School production)

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