Sunday, December 06, 2015

Beware stray Shakespeare analogies

New York Times reporting on how the US was apparently embarrassed and surprised when China was able to enlist the UK to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) --

For China, British membership in the bank was a defining moment. Back in Beijing, Mr. Jin [AIIB sponsor] reached for his copy of Shakespeare’s drama “Cymbeline.” The play takes place in Roman-occupied Britain and part of the action revolves around the British refusal to pay tribute. Mr. Jin read two lines by the character Cloten, who tells the Roman ambassador: “Britain’s a world by itself. We will nothing pay for wearing our own noses.” Mr. Jin realized that just as ancient Britain had refused to pay Rome in an earlier age, contemporary Britain had defied the United States and joined the Chinese bank.

If George Osborne is then Cloten, that may be apt, but not in the way Mr Jin intends. Cloten is a duplicitous but incompetent and ultimately dead character in Cymbeline, and the play ends as follows:

CYMBELINE Well My peace we will begin. And, Caius Lucius, Although the victor, we submit to Caesar, And to the Roman empire; promising To pay our wonted tribute, from the which We were dissuaded by our wicked queen; Whom heavens, in justice, both on her and hers, Have laid most heavy hand.

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