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Confessions of a Shakespeare Virgin

I have to confess. Shakespeare scares the hell out of me. Plain and simple. I sit through Shakespeare plays with my British-educated friends watching them nod and smile, while I struggle to understand even half of what’s being said. But hasn’t she studied English Literature, you might be thinking? Indeed, I have, but only in my later degrees at which point I could choose other kinds of courses. Which I happily did. The only piece of Shakespeare I’ve ever read (parts of) was King Lear as an undergraduate student in America.

Time to fix that.

Inspired by this article from Why Shakespeare Is the Perfect Beach Read, I’ve decided to start with a relative easy one, Much Ado About Nothing. The trick here is to go for a Shakespeare-for-students type of version of the play, with lots of notes explaining basically everything. And…I’m finding myself quite enjoying it, although I’m not sure if it qualifies as a beach read in my book. After a while, some of the incomprehensible terms repeat themselves and things start to flow. He can be surprisingly funny and, as we all know, his characters capture all of humanity, so inevitably, you’ll recognise people you know and even yourself. Another tempting alternative, of course, is to watch the many, many excellent films based on his plays. It won’t be the same though as his unparalleled language needs to be consumed in slow motion,…one…word…at…a…time.

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