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The Poetic Style Needed

Carl Hare Author Interview

What I liked about Spenser was the way in which you fused history with fantasy. What research did you undertake to ensure the historical references were accurate?

I did a huge amount of research, because I had to know as much as possible about the Elizabethan period in England, Ireland, and France, as well as the historical figures involved. And remember, the work has taken twenty-seven years to finish. When I started, there was no internet; I had to do research in university libraries, not through Google. I have seven huge binders of material xeroxed and carefully tagged. As well, in the actual creation I am now on my tenth workbook, apart from the digital files.

Actual things were relatively simple—to find how stained glass windows were constructed and appeared in Spenser’s time; to understand what a sailing vessel was like, its sails, its crew, its structure; to learn about the Irish sea and the ports; to become absorbed in what the buildings and costumes were; Christmas customs; medicine; the countries. There is very little knowledge of Spenser himself, so that I made surmises based on what was known; my Spenser is probably more fictional than real, but the conclusions I made were based on facts as well. I did, of course, create the final book of The Fairie Queene, the windows described actually based on Jung’s archetypal figures (a small license I gave myself). The Christmas play is my adaptation of what could have happened then (minus the satire of the pope, of course). The massacre of the Spaniards is directly taken from the report made of the affair. And the Latin phrases are actually the ones that British schoolboys used to have to learn, which is deliberate. Ben Jonson criticized Shakespeare for knowing “no Latin and less Greek”; I portray him in the scene as still learning Latin, much to the amusement of Spenser and Bacon, who wrote well in the language and who make quiet jokes between them in their responses.

As for the fantasy, you will have to wait for Book Three to get the whole story, when the three thousand years find their conclusion.

The book is written in Spenserian stanzas. Was this a challenge for you or do you prefer this style of writing?

Actually, the whole trilogy is a challenge, because I take the poetic style of the time and adapt it slightly to modern times. For example, Odysseus is deliberately written in the style that most translations have been seen over the past decades; Spenser is written in his form, but where he usually end-stops a stanza, I can run the idea without strain into the following stanza, so that the dialogue and description can be closer to us. I have deliberately left the numbering of the stanzas as he did. As well, in the agonizing memories of Spenser about the death of his son I have strained the stanzas to the limit to force the cries that he made stand out. If you want to know how that sounds, you may soon be able to hear them in the audio book that hopefully will appear in the near future. As for Archer, the styles range from the Romantic Period until today. Thus, you will find that even the verse ranges over the three thousand years.

I understand that you have been a professor, actor, director, playwright, and poet. How has your experience in these fields helped you write your books in the On the River of Time series?

A good question. All of these have helped me. First of all, I have an English Honours degree in which I had to take a comprehensive exam on all of English literature up to 1950 (excluding, of course at that time, all Canadian and American literature). I have taught English courses, seminar courses in Ibsen and Theatre Aesthetics, a first-year philosophy course, and, of course, courses in acting for professional and amateur actors. As an actor I have to learn, comprehend, and explore a character deeply, both in mind and body. As a director I have to know the world in which the play takes place; what the incidents expose of the characters; the structure of the action of the play and its conclusion; the period in which it takes place; and how to bring the actor to fulfill the demands of the character. As a playwright I have to conceive of the characters and their journey; write the scenes that are important for the revelations of the play; find the essence of each character’s thoughts, speech and action; place all this in an appropriate setting for the theatre and the audience; and as a poet sense the music of our language, the evocation of an experience, the poetic style needed, the deep influence of an idea, and the urge which forces me to express it.

All of these things in my background have enriched my vision and whatever skill I have. They have allowed me to find a way through to express through three thousand years what we all still experience, give into, or struggle with, in our lives

Book three in your series follows Archer, the fictional renegade actor/director in present-day Canada. When will that book be available and what can readers expect in the story?

I am almost finished writing it. My editor, with whom I have worked fifty years, is brilliant and patient and rigorous, keeping me always on the right track. We are in the twelfth draft of the work at the moment, but it should be the second-last. For reasons I won’t go into, it will probably come out next year.

What can you expect? A modern actor/director who is charismatic and searching, who has spent his life exploring and touring his events. The book is divided into three “Acts” (like chapters, but this is, after all, about theatre); Act One deals with his tour of King Lear in mask and his research on an event that will deal with all of Canadian history as far back as it goes; Act Two deals with the creation and tour of the event; Act Three deals with the company invited to Ireland to play the event in its Festivals, what happens there, and the repercussions later in Canada. You may suspect that I have some knowledge of all this; you might want to look at my website: http://www.carlhare.ca

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Spenser portrays the last four turbulent months in the life of poet Edmund Spenser, faithful servant of Queen Elizabeth I of England for whom he wrote The Fairie Queene. Written in Spenserian stanza to evoke the Elizabethan period and the poet’s own style, Spenser is Book Two of the epic trilogy On the River of Time, which examines three figures – one mythical, one historical, and one fictional – from different time periods spanning almost three thousand years: Odysseus in ancient Greece; Spenser, the poet, in Ireland, and Archer, a fictional renegade actor/director, in present-day Canada.

Ambiguous Actions of the Gods

Carl Hare Author Interview

Odysseus continues the story in Homer’s Odyssey and recounts the Greek hero’s final quest to settle his debt with Poseidon. What inspired you to write a story that continues Odysseus’s journey?

It all starts with the impetus for the trilogy which I mention in my introduction: How can one of our greatest English poets hold simultaneously in his mind the great virtues and genocide? To explore this question I finally came up with the trilogy dealing with men on journeys important to them and which can involve actions that involve questions in themselves. As well, I wanted to show the universality of these issues by covering the three thousand years in which great works have explored their periods. Odysseus was the best starting point, particularly that second voyage barely hinted at in the Odyssey. He is particularly interesting because he is not only a hero but because he not only does noble actions but shows darker traits and ambivalence as well; and the continual ambiguous actions of the gods reveals a society uncertain always of its future.

I enjoyed Odysseus’s character in this book. What were some driving ideals behind the way you developed his character?

It’s interesting to explore what the creative process is about. There is a very good scholarly examination of how the character has been seen over the ages: W.B. Stanford’s The Ulysses Theme. I could understand why his character had initiated so many responses; but that is only the beginning. I don’t write from principles, I write to describe the character living in my mind (as an actor, I actually create the character physically), and although the structure has to be there (in this case, it went through five changes in the chart), when I write I am actually describing what I’m living in my mind.

Much like in the original epic Odysseus encounters many obstacles along his path. What was the writing process like to bring these to life using your poetic style?

The first choice must be the style in which the story will be written, which involves not only the time in which it first occurred, when ancient Greek hexameters and flexibility of where words could be placed in the sentence are impossible to duplicate in English, but also this present time and this present audience with very different mores, etc. I decided to use the present form that some translators have used (although there have been some others, such as Christopher Logue’s brilliant modern adaptation of the original). I also decided to let the events and characters reveal themselves, and although I still used some of the original epic’s conventions, I tried to let the story reveal itself, but in a poetic fashion. In this I kept in my mind the memory of a Doctoral graduate from Greece who was examining various translations of Oedipus Rex and attended some of my seminars on theatre esthetics. She told me that when Aeschylus’ plays were performed in its ancient Greek, the language was so powerful that the hair would rise on the necks of the performers. I am far more humble in what I expect my poetry to do, although it is poetry, and I “sing” the action as I imagine it.

This is book one in your On The River of Time series. What can readers expect in book two, Spenser?

It might be interesting to know that in the early drafts I wrote successively the cantos of each of the three books: Canto One of Odysseus, then Canto One of Spenser, then Canto One of Archer, and so on. I realized early on that with so many cantos to write it would take an extraordinarily long time, and so I forced myself to write a canto a month, at least thirty pages, and in the different styles necessary. As a result, the stories themselves are entirely separate (sly hint—not altogether) and roughly are structured in the same way. Odysseus was a mythical figure; Spenser is an historical figure; Archer is a fictional character. But knowledge of the historical Spenser is sparse, and although most of what I write is true to history, there is also some speculative. The book explores the last four months of Spenser’s life, which was filled with tragedy and memories of his past life. It also brings to life the Elizabethan court and an Ireland filled with strife. It also suggests an answer to the question first posed that started the trilogy.

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Odysseus begins where Homer’s Odyssey leaves off, and recounts the Greek hero’s final quest to settle his debt with the god Poseidon. He must travel to many cities carrying a wooden oar, find a land that knows no salt, and offer a sacrifice to the god on the site where a stranger asks the purpose of the oar. During his perilous journey he becomes involved in the intrigues swirling among the great Trojan War veterans and their heirs, and must also protect his own family and kingdom. Written in a poetic style reminiscent of the Homeric past, Odysseus is Book One of the epic trilogy, On the River of Time, which examines three figures – one mythical, one historical, and one fictional – from different time periods spanning almost three thousand years: Odysseus in Greece; Spenser, the poet, in Ireland; and Archer, a renegade actor/director in Canada.

Spenser: On The River of Time

Carl Hare brings fresh purpose to epic poetry in the book Spenser (On the River of Time). Just like book 1, the author is exceptional with narration, description of events, and the direction the characters are taking. Everything from the arrangement of the cantos, the breaking down of the story, the construction of sentences, and the simplicity of lines is ideal. Carl Hare makes the reading experience fun and even more enjoyable for readers that are new to this genre. The length of the cantos is inviting for readers that appreciate short verses. The introduction of characters and how the narrative unfolds encourage one to read more.

In this book, the main story is focused on the life of poet Edmund Spenser. The poet worked for Queen Elizabeth I of England. The book touches on different aspects of Spenser’s life, his convictions, the journeys he took, and the many challenges he had to face. Through this man, we also see how service to authority and how respecting the powers that be affect one’s life. One notable element in this book is the use of a real historical figure in a work of fiction. The author blends every part of the book to elevate a real character in a fictitious work and in doing so creates an engaging story that is hard to put down.

The characters are emotive and easy to empathize with. Each Canto has a unique feeling. The author’s words are clear and I was able to understands the content in the lines without having to repeat the reading, a struggle for me with other works, but Carl Hare’s story is easy to approach. Spenser (On the River of Time) is everything historical fiction fans could want in an adventure story from a gilded age. I enjoyed the style of narration, and loved the edifying effect the book has on literature enthusiasts.

Pages: 435 | ASIN: B0852QN65G

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Odysseus: On the River of Time

Odysseus by [Carl Hare]

Odysseus: On the River of Time is an epic piece of literature that not only shows the importance of literature but also enables the reader to appreciate the art of story-telling. This book expands on Odysseus’s adventures, told in engaging poetic verse that is much like the Homeric epics this story builds from. Carl Hare’s style of narration encourages one to read more. Every line is great and the verses supremely crafted. In between the lines are rich texts and literary stylistic features that make the poem even more fascinating. Reading the book was an amazing experience. The author’s expressive nature and the excellence shown in writing are some of the things that make Carl Hare an outstanding author.

Odysseus: On the River of Time is the perfect book for you if you enjoyed Homer’s Odyssey. The author does not strain with words as everything flows naturally. In this book, Carl Hare writes about Odysseus’ last voyage to propitiate the god Poseidon. Odysseus’ journey is not to come without a challenge. It is evident that no matter what, he has to appease the god. He goes through several cities having a wooden oar with him. His journey comes with instructions. He is to travel to a land with no salt to offer the sacrifice. I enjoyed following Odysseus through his journey, going through exotic locations, meeting captivating characters, and absorbing conflicts.

One of the many great things about this book is how the author plays with his words. Reading Odysseus: On the River of Time will increase your urge to read more epic poems because of how incredible the author is. Every Canto has a unique touch. The best thing of all is the presentation of characters. I appreciate how superior characters like Apollo were presented and how Helen fit into this unique narrative. A good story has the reader pause and reflect. This is the exact feeling I had after reading every few cantos in the book.

Pages: 550 | ASIN: B0852R27DK

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