112. 17 January 1997 [ES] (The Weakest goeth to the Wall; Romeo and Juliet; MRA; Paganini/Rachmaninov)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Hayat,

I'm delighted to learn of your liking for The Weakest Goeth to the Wall, a title referred to in Romeo and Juliet in what seems to me a characteristically Shakespearean touch of self-advertisement. I first came across Weakest in Everitt' s Six Early Plays related to the Shakespeare Canon, 1965. So I've known it a long time, on and off, and I see I've made copious notes in my copy. Of course we've traversed the same ground, independently, which I find very encouraging. You're one of the very few exceptions to my usual Wildean rule that when other people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong. But I couldn't really broach this topic in The Real Shakespeare because it demands more detail that I can at present provide. Also the play wasn't printed until 1600, and I'm stuck at 1594.

   However, when Robert rang me yesterday with kind congratulations on the review enclosed (he's rather sure that one ought not to look even a gift-donkey in the mouth) he did mention the possibility of a sequel.

   Meanwhile the memorable destruction of memorial reconstruction proceeds apace. This morning I received the latest contribution from Yashdip Bains of Cincinnati, namely a book that successfully restores Contention andTrue Tragedy to the canon. He's had to publish in his native Simla, as Everitt had to publish in Copenhagen. But now Yale is the key, and some further deft turning in the oiled wards, as it were anti-lockwise, would seem appropriate.

   While I'm about it I'm also enclosing my own latest effort; your comments are always welcome as the flowers in May.

   I'm also singing tra-la after being further cheered by a chirpy letter from Christopher (and Caroline). He sounds rather tired but wonderfully game - I think Paganini has taken its toll. But that film should surely prove another triumph. As I sometimes remind Christopher, our old friend Gretel Boronow used to say to us (separately) 'Es freut mich, dass Du auf der Welt bist'. I was pleased to hear that Channel Four TV has reacted encouragingly. Good for it.

  I'm reminded that I recently heard that great Rach/Pag record with the composer at the keyboard; it really is rather marvellous, and much of its invigorating versatility no doubt derives from the original, as with the Brahms variations also.

   I should get back to Brahms in his death-centenary year; but I infer from his silence that he can wait.

   Best, as ever,

   Yours Eric