I know that it is possible that when I set my mind to something I can indeed accomplish it. Reading Shakespeare has been a longtime sore point in my reading life. I think if there is one author (well next to maybe James Joyce...am thinking Ulysses here) that I have had a "fear" of, it is Shakespeare. I realize this is probably very silly, and I feel a bit apologetic about feeling any sort of fear of reading anything (at least in English!). Why should I be afraid of reading any book? I am a smart person. I have a college degree. I lived in Europe all by myself when I was younger. So it is time to tackle Shakespeare.
I did read King Lear in high school, though I don't really remember much about the play. My other run in with the Bard was when I was in college. Every summer the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival company presents two plays--Shakespeare on the Green. The one and only year that I went I have a most vivid recollection of watching (can't remember which play it was) and being completely lost. I didn't understand the action or the dialog. It was all too fast and way too far over my head. I have no doubt now that my viewing experience and pleasure would have been greatly enhanced if I had perhaps read the play ahead of time (no doubt I was also with friends and perhaps wasn't listening as closely as I should have been...). Shakespeare's plays seem to be so full of difficult language full of hidden meanings. Still, there must be a reason he is probably one of the most widely read and recognized authors in the world. Nearly 500 years after his birth his plays are still performed and read. Surely if other people can read and enjoy him, I can as well.
So I am making a little project out of this. I don't plan on attempting to read everything he wrote (this year anyway). I just want to take the plays slowly, and I would at least like to work through a few of his better known works. I am starting with Romeo and Juliet. I know the story and watched the film version years ago. At the moment I am reading an essay by Marjorie Garber from her collection Shakespeare After All as an introduction. Then I am going to just jump right in. My library has a pretty extensive collection of works on Shakespeare, so if I get stuck, surely I can figure any references out. I do plan on watching the play when I am finished (plays are meant to be watched, right). I might even see what other updated versions are available. It should be a fun project, as long as I stick to it (I tend to be easily distracted sometimes).
By the way, I also plan on reading A Midsummer Night's Dream later this spring for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge. The essay in the Garber book after the one I am reading happens to be about A Midsummer Night's Dream. Apparently he wrote both plays at about the same time, and both have much in common according to Garber. She says "In a way we could say that A Midsummer Night's Dream is Romeo and Juliet turned inside out, Romeo and Juliet transformed into a comedy." A good start to my project, I would say!
Who knows. Maybe next I'll take on a few of his sonnets (Shakespeare and poetry--HA)!