James Lipton's 'Inside Inside': A Reconsideration

We're halfway through our journey into "Inside the Actor's Studio" host James Lipton's new book, Inside Inside. Mostly so far we found ourselves cringing at the beginning of each chapter. Each started with an epigraph of such epic pretension! We could write a poem about it:

First was Chaucer, then Shakespeare. What would come after?

Ah, old Kierkegaard, of course. We'll wait for "Aye, there's the rub."

We're on chapter four. Could it get any dafter?

We'll find out in this installment of the Gawker Book Club.

"Inside Inside" has eighteen chapters plus an "Afterword....and Foreword." Remember, it's written in concentric circles! Each chapter has an epigraph and each chapter we're amazed at the pomposity of Lipton's choice—that is, save a stretch where he just quotes Sharon Stone, Russell Crowe and other practitioners of the craft of acting.

So you don't have to, we've assembled the best of his epigraph selection which, coincidentally, make up the best writing in the whole megillah.

Chapter I: "And glady wolde he lerne and gladly teche" —The Narrator's description of the Clerk in the Genreal Pologue of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

Chapter II: "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action." —Hamlet's advice to the players

Chapter III: "Do you know that there comes a midnight hour/When everyone has to throw off his mask?/Do you believe ithat life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you an slip away a little before midnight?" —Soren Kierkegaard, Epigraph in Rainbow at Midnight by Lawrence Lipton

Chapter IV: "Beginner's, please!" —The British equiavlent of America's "Places, please" signaling curtain time.

Chapter V: "Assez vu. La vision s'est rencontreé a tous les airs..." [Ed. Note: There's a whole quatrain plus the English.] —"Départ," Arthur Rimbaud

Chapter VI: "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives my green age." —Dylan Thomas

Chapter XI: "Well, well, well. What's going on here?" —Christopher Reeve, Inside the Actors Studio

Chapter XIII: "Tonight we are going to cook octopus balls!" —Robin Williams, Inside the Actors Studio

Chapter XVII: Croyez ceux qui cherchent la vérité,/doutez de ceux qui la trouvent" —André Gide, quoted by Bernard PIvot in The Craft of Reading

Chapter XVIII: "Meet it is I set it down/That one may smile and smile and be a villain." —Hamlet, Act One, Scene Five

Never has Brainyquotes.com been lassoed so well into the service of mankind's march of progress—or, for that matter, has Robin Williams ever been made to rope the reader into prose even less funny than his own.