Friday, November 12, 2010

Random Thoughts of Shakespeare

In addition to the writing marathon of NaNoWriMo (about 18,300 words so far, though I still have to start writing today), I'm also in the middle of a reading marathon. I'm reading the complete works of William Shakespeare on my Kindle. Unfortunately, the Kindle dictionary doesn't handle archaic terms well; this is one place where paper books with footnotes are better. On the other hand, since this is portable, I'm actually reading it instead of letting it gather dust on the shelf. Currently I'm about 30% of the way through. Here are some things I've noticed so far:

1. A lot of the "low" comic characters are funny because they keep using the wrong word. They were dropping malapropisms long before Mrs. Malaprop.
2. Shakespeare reuses names from play to play. So far, I've seen several Antonios and Sebastians. Rosalind also gets mentioned a few times.
3. Pericles is my least favorite play so far. Shakespeare only wrote half of it, the second half. It's written in a very "telling" style, and I find one of the main plot points highly improbable according to human nature.
4. My favorite heroines so far are Portia from The Merchant of Venice and Rosalind from As You Like It.
5. I remember the movie or stage versions of the ones I've seen as I read.
6. How come there are no public highlights of famous quotes? Normally I see them as I read. I highlight (and share on Facebook) some selected passages, but I wonder if public sharing was disabled for this version for some reason.
7. Men are much more inconstant in their loves than the women.
8. Some of the same-sex friendships are described as being very close; so close as to make a modern person wonder about the sexuality of the characters. I wonder how these relationships were viewed in Shakespeare's time? Some of his sonnets were addressed to a man, so there's speculation about his sexuality too.

How do you feel about Shakespeare; do you love, loathe, or ignore him? Which plays have you seen performed?


Catherine Stine said...

I had to memorize and spout forth a passage from Henry the Fifth in 10th grade. I forgot the words and was totally embarrassed, which soured me, irrationally, on poor William.
However, I do recognize Shakespeare's genius. He was a deep thinker about the human condition. Personally, I prefer Marlowe. I teach Dr. Faustus every year to freshmen art students. He had such a checkered past, as a spy for the queen and as an early atheist. Plus, his life ended when a guy stabbed him through the eye in a bar brawl (likely a hit man offing the suspected spy).
Colorful man, and compelling tale, which ponders the various facets of temptation.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I don't think I've read anything by Marlowe. I've read a little bit of Goethe's version of Faust, but sadly, my German isn't fluent enough for me to understand more than bits and pieces. I think the version I read had German and English side-by-side.

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