Friday, March 14, 2008

A Brilliant Introduction to Shakespeare???

I was leafing through a book sellers magazine the other day and I came across a selection of Shakespeare's plays (or 'stories' as they put it) presented with pretty covers and illustrations for younger readers. The accompanying blurb went as follows (and I quote):- '...The tales have been retold using accessible language...' Now, I don't know if it is just me or is the weakest part of Shakespeare's work his story lines? Star crossed lovers, jealous husbands, vengeful sons, power hungry men - yes, they are strong basic plots but it is THE WAY they are told and the beauty of the language that makes them great plays. Hamlet would be nothing without his soliloquies. Othello would lose its power without iambic pentameter and would Lady Macbeth still pack as much punch without her scheming words? I don't know, I suppose it is good that Shakespeare's 'stories' are being made accessible to the younger reader, but I feel his plays without his language are a bit like eating chocolate without the guilt - it just ain't possible.


Malice Blackheart said...

I couldn’t agree more. Shakespeare was a lyrical mastermind. That’s the whole point of studying his work. There is a lot for an actor or a writer to dig into when studying his works. If you take the lyrics away, all that’s apparent is that Shakespeare couldn’t structure a story to save his life. Frankly I think he’s the most disorganized writer I have ever read. In King Lear one of the main characters simply disappears, without any explanation. Lots of people try to pretend this can be interpreted some way, but I interpret it as sloppy, frankly absent-minded writing.
And do we really want to make these stories accessible to younger readers? Titus Andronicus contains three rapes, numerous amputations and cannibalism. I don’t even know if I’m old enough to handle a story like that yet.

Anonymous said...

good point - well put and i agree wtih malice blackheart too. its just the usual dumbing down of everything i think

Inkpot said...

Thank you malice for you very well written and intelligent comment and for also raising the point about whether children SHOULD be introduced to Shakespeare's plays in the first place. I think if you are too young for the language than you aren't old enough to handle the subject matter!
To anon - yes, everything gets dumbed down these days just in case it hurts are little heads.