Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shakespeare Meme

On this day... 445 years ago, William Shakespeare was born. Happy birthday to the bard.

And so, in honor of his birthday, I thought I'd post the following meme, which I found over at the blog: At Home With Books.

1. What was your first introduction to William Shakespeare? Was it love or hate?
My first introduction to Shakespeare was in late Jr. high/early high school when my sister and I read Romeo and Juliet together. I had heard so many people complain about reading Shakespeare's plays that I was expecting a boring and difficult read. Reading it aloud with my sister made the assignment fun and I found the story very exciting. I wouldn't say I was in love with his writing, but I certainly have enjoyed it.

2. Which Shakespeare plays have you been required to read?
I'm having trouble remembering, but I believe they were: Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, and A Midsummer's Night Dream. But then I also read: Henry V,  Much 'Ado About NothingHamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Richard III... so any of those could have been assigned, or they could have been read just for fun. I don't remember.

3. Do you think Shakespeare is important? Do you feel you are a “better” person for having read the bard?
To echo Alyce I think reading Shakespeare and learning about Shakespeare is an important part of our literary history and heritage and thus key to a readers education. I don't consider myself a better person for having read Shakespeare, just a well-read person.

4. Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?
Hard to say, but I think Much 'Ado About Nothing for a comedy, Romeo and Juliet for a tragedy, and Henry V for a history. But that is subject to change.

5. How do you feel about contemporary takes on Shakespeare? Adaptations of Shakespeare's works with a more modern feel? (For example, the new line of Manga Shakespeare graphic novels, or novels like Something Rotten, Something Wicked, Enter Three Witches, Ophelia, etc.) Do you have a favorite you'd recommend?
Again, to echo Alyce. If the contemporary takes are done well they can be effective. I think the modern adaptations, whether in period costume or not, can create new interest in the original plays. It was through Kenneth Branagh's adaptations that I became acquainted with Henry V and Much 'Ado About Nothing, which in turn sparked my interest in reading more of Shakespeare's plays. Some contemporary takes are a little out-there and honestly, I'm just not interested in reading the new line of Manga Shakespeare graphic novels, but that doesn't mean others don't find them fun reads.

In closing I will add: If you have never read a play by William Shakespeare then you must add one to your list to read in the next year to five years. I'd say at least one of his plays should be on the list of Top 100 books you should read before you die. While good to read alone, these plays were intended to be acted out, so read aloud they do fair better than when read silently. My solution in high school was to read aloud with one of my siblings.


Noel De Vries said...

I would add, if you haven't ever read a play, or, what's more likely, haven't really enjoyed reading the plays you've read, GO TO A PLAY. Shakespeare wrote scripts. Not novels. They are to be seen, not read. Live Shakespeare will revolutionize your opinions. I have to drive over two hours to see live performances, coming home at 1 AM, so it does take some dedication, but if live is really, really not an option, rent Twelfth Night, with Toby Stevens, or the RSC's Winter's Tale. You won't regret it!

Angel said...

If you get the urge to read another Shakespeare comedy someday, my favorite by far was As You Like It. It's not as well known as Much Ado About Nothing, but I think it's much better. :)