Skip to main content

Booking through Thursday: Shakespeare

I came across this question while going through old posts on Booking Through Thursday:

Okay, show of hands … who has read Shakespeare OUTSIDE of school required reading? Do you watch the plays? How about movies? Do you love him? Think he’s overrated?

While the subject is now closed, I thought it was a rather good blogging prompt, so here is my reply:

I have only read a couple of Shakespeare's plays outside of school: Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. I suppose that as an English major I should feel ashamed that I didn't read any of his plays at university, but since my focus was linguistic, not literary, I make no excuses.

In any case, I prefer to see plays performed, either on stage or as films. I know the stories of most of the comedies and tragedies, thanks to Tales from Shakespeare and a similar, albeit better written, book by Helgi Hálfdanarson, the man who also translated all the plays into Icelandic.

I try to see every Shakespeare play that is staged here in Iceland, meaning of course I am more used to hearing them performed in Icelandic than in English. I did read the English version of Macbeth after I saw the play performed in Icelandic. So far I have caught Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream (school play, the choice of which I am sure was influenced by the popularity of the movie Dead Poets Society), Romeo and Juliet (the controversial acrobatics version by Vesturport) and Macbeth.

I gave King Lear a miss, however, since I find that story so incredibly depressing that I'd rather stick needles in my eyes and ears than watch it or any version of it. Finally, I will mention - but not count - an experimental version of Othello I saw a few years ago, titled Óþelló-Desdemóna og Jagó, since it was an interpretation of the story in which the only character who spoke was Iago (Othello expressed himself in dance and Desdemona through sign language).

As for Shakespeare movies I have seen: 
  • The 1948 Olivier version of Hamlet, which I found to be stagy but good.
  • A so-so black-and-white Romeo and Juliet with actors old enough to be the parents of Shakespeare's originals.
  • Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing and Love's Labour's Lost. I re-watch the former on occasion, but didn't like the latter much.
  • The Burton and Taylor Taming of the Shrew, which I enjoyed. I also saw an enjoyable made-for-TV modern version of that story, starring Shirley Henderson and Rufus Sewell. Unfortunately I missed the rest of that series, which also included Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream. (Kiss Me Kate is great, but doesn't leave in a whole lot of Shakespeare's text, any more than the aforementioned TV adaptation).
  • Twelfth Night, the one starring Helena Bonham-Carter, Imogen Stubbs and Toby Stephens as  the people caught in the love triangle, plus a host of other great British actors. This is my favourite Shakespeare movie and I re-watch it every now and then.


Kay G. said…
I am the ghost of Shakespeare, get back to writing your blog!

Popular posts from this blog

How to make a simple origami bookmark

Here are some instructions on how to make a simple origami (paper folding) bookmark:

Take a square of paper. It can be patterned origami paper, gift paper or even office paper, just as long as it’s easy to fold. The square should not be much bigger than 10 cm/4 inches across, unless you intend to use the mark for a big book. The images show what the paper should look like after you follow each step of the instructions. The two sides of the paper are shown in different colours to make things easier, and the edges and fold lines are shown as black lines.

Fold the paper in half diagonally (corner to corner), and then unfold. Repeat with the other two corners. This is to find the middle and to make the rest of the folding easier. If the paper is thick or stiff it can help to reverse the folds.

Fold three of the corners in so that they meet in the middle. You now have a piece of paper resembling an open envelope. For the next two steps, ignore the flap.

Fold the square diagonally in two. You…

Reading report for January 2014

Here it is, finally: the reading report for January. (February‘s report is in the works: I have it entered into Excel and I just need to transfer it into Word, edit the layout and write the preface. It will either take a couple of days or a couple of months).

I finished 26 books in January, although admittedly a number of them were novellas. As I mentioned in my previous post, I delved into a new(ish) type of genre: gay (or M/M) romance. I found everything from genuinely sweet romance to hardcore BDSM, in sub-genres like fantasy, suspense and mystery and even a quartet of entertaining (and unlikely) rock star romances. Other books I read in January include the highly enjoyable memoir of cooking doyenne Julia Child, two straight romances, and Jennifer Worth‘s trilogy of memoirs about her experiences as a midwife in a London slum in the 1950s. I also watched the first season of the TV series based on these books and may (I say 'may') write something about this when I have finis…

Stiff – The curious lives of human cadavers

Originally published in November and December 2004, in 4 parts. Book 42 in my first 52 books challenge.

Author: Mary Roach
Year published: 2003
Pages: 303
Genre: Popular science, biology
Where got:

Mom, Dad, what happens after we die?

This is a classic question most parents dread having to answer. While this book doesn’t answer the philosophical/theological part of the question – what happens to the soul? - it does claim to contain answers to the biological part, namely: what happens to the body?

Reading progress for Stiff:
Stiff is proving to be an interesting read. Roach writes in a matter-of-fact journalistic style that makes the subject seem less grim than it really is, but she does on occasion become a bit too flippant about it, I guess in an attempt to distance herself. Although she uses humour to ease the grimness, the jokes – which, by the way, are never about the dead, only the living, especially Roach herself – often fall flat. Perhaps it’s just me, but this is a serio…