My Shakespeare Project

Inspired by Melissa at Avid Reader’s Musings and also, embarrassed by my complete lack of progress for my 2014 Shakespeare Challenge, I have decided to launch a new project for myself!  As if, I needed another, right?

My Shakespeare Project is my attempt to read through all of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets.  And I’m giving myself no time limit, so there will be no pressure …….. well, maybe just a little bit of pressure.  This project will also help me to check some books off my Classics Club list, which is always welcome.

I really like how Melissa has challenged herself to read a play, see a performance and watch a movie of the play.  It gives you a much richer experience, and I hope to do this as well.  You can check out my list here.

So wish me luck as I embark on an Elizabethan voyage with the Bard.  Bon voyage!


Here is a wonderful post from Sophia from Ravens and Writing Desks on Tips for Reading Shakespeare.  Check it out!

As Sophia mentions in her post, she likes the Folger editons, which I’ve realized that I like more than I had indicated in a below comment, but I still prefer the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) editions if you have some experience with Shakespeare.  For beginners I recommend the No Fear Shakespeare books.  These have a limited number of plays available, but they do contain Elizabethan English on one side and modern English on the other which is very helpful for beginners.

23 thoughts on “My Shakespeare Project

  1. Shakespeare…I never get around to reading his plays. Bravo for starting your own challenge, sometimes it can be a great stimulus to get yourself reading his works. I have a few of his plays on the Classic list this year. Melissa's combination sounds wonderful
    [*book, play, movie]. No Shakespeare plays in English here, I'm afraid. I would be able to read the play and see the movie. Does a play version….on TV count? 🙂

  2. There are editions called No Fear Shakespeare which have Elizabethan English on one side and modern English on the other. I found those helpful to get me going. And I believe they are free online. There's always a way, Nancy! 😉

  3. Thanks so much for the info about old/new English editons online. I will look at them today!
    Vouloir, c'est pouvoir

  4. This is awesome! Good luck with that!
    I've got a couple of his plays on my CC List, so I may join in at some point 🙂

    Oh and I noticed that in another comment you mentioned No Fear Shakespeare. Personally I like the Folger Editions better, because they don't rewrite in modern English, just define the confusing words. So you aren't tempted to read ONLY the modern version. (Because that would be "cheating", right? And you couldn't say you had actually READ Shakespeare.)

    (I also have a post on my blog about Shakespeare Reading Tips, if you're interested…:-) )

  5. It didn't even occur to me that someone would "cheat" and use only the modern English side, but perhaps you're right …..??? :-Z

    Initially I used the No Fear editions; I would read the "real" version, but if I got stuck, I used the modern English as "translation" I like the No Fear editions because sometimes it's not only the word that's the issue, but the context. After reading a few plays from No Fear, I didn't need any more "hand-holding" and now, after reading a number of editions, I prefer the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) editions. I did try the Folger but at the moment I can't remember why I preferred a couple of other editions over them. I think Folger are the ones that are touted for students, right?

    I will absolutely check out your Shakespeare tips! Heading over there now!

  6. Oh I DO think I've seen the RSC versions. They aren't bad, but I just haven't had a chance to actually read from them. My Shakespeare teacher from when I was eleven (the one I mention in the post) used the Folgers, so that's why I'm so hooked on them.

  7. If I remember, I think the Folger editions are good for new or younger readers. It's the format of them, that makes them easier to use; a simple and easy layout. I like the RBC because they go a little more in depth with essays, synopsis, etc. And the cover designs are quite artistic. 🙂

    If you're a Shakespeare buff, you may enjoy William Hazlitt's commentaries and I also really enjoyed Oliphant Smeaton's Shakespeare His Life and Work. The first is early 19th century and the second early 20th century.

    I've added a link to your tips in this post. You touched on techniques to aid in understanding that were so helpful. Thanks, Sophia!

  8. Ooh, a Shakespeare project, fun! I have a long-term goal of making it through his complete works, though I'm afraid it's been a while since I've made any progress (and that's despite creating it as a project of my own). I do prefer low-stress, no deadline projects, though. I think reading's more fun that way. Enjoy!

  9. I think if you've made the effort to start the project, if you take a break, it's fine. It's always there for you to get back to one day. Now I just have to start mine to give myself some momentum!

  10. MidSummer Night's Dream: read your comments on Goodreads:
    I'm little bit scared of Shakespeare. I only put 1 of his plays on spin # 8. His language is beautiful, mysterious…and far too big to handle for me without some preparation.
    I like what Homer said: "Avoid it; for this is the hardest month, wintry, hard for sheep and hard for men."

  11. They aren't the easiest read but the plays aren't lengthy so you'd only have to devote a short, intense period to one. I don't think you have to do any prep though, just get yourself a good edition that explains things as you go. Once you get reading, they get easier and easier. He's a master of the ins and outs of human nature and really leave you hanging as to motivations. There often could be many and, being me, I can get frustrated wondering why.

    Ah, Homer! One of my favourites! 🙂

  12. It's been 30 years since I left High School, but I still detest reading Shakespeare. I had 3 years of reading. discussing and analysing MACBETH. So now I hate that play. But I am more than happy to read any books on the Shakespeare Authorship debate!! I still have not made my decision about who really wrote the plays, but I do concede that it was NOT William Shakespeare!!! MAybe I can do a challenge on that – read all the books out there on this debate. That's a great idea!!!

  13. That's too bad, Francesca. While I think some of the plays are weaker, some are just excellent. I can't believe the depth to Hamlet, and Othello was another one that blew me away.

    I haven't read much specifically on the debate, but I have read different scholarly books on Shakespeare. I believe the first time his authorship was questioned, it was as a joke and the trend got taken up from there. My question is, "does it really matter?" There is very little we know for sure about many events in history. There are always differing points of view and different perspectives. Anyone who wants to know something "for a fact" will often be disappointed. I think the tragedy of some certain historians is that they present their views as fact and therefore, as readers, we think that we can know for sure. But if you read more balanced historians, they will say for example, "these are three possibilities. We think it's the first, but we can't be certain because of ABC" So to try to find "the truth" is often a exercise in futility. Using evidence, we can guess with a reasonable certainty, but often, that's it.

    For me, his plays are brilliant, whoever wrote them, and I appreciate them. I've never understood why people who are so far removed an event, can claim to know more about it than people closer to the event, but I assume with some authors, that whenever they can stir up controversy, there is more likelihood of their book selling well. I tend to stay away from stuff like that and choose my historical authors carefully. "Those types" will tend to take you much further from the truth. Not that there can't be well-written books about this debate, but I'm certain there are tons that are just speculation and not good history.

    I, too, have hated books I read in high school, but I choose to think that they either weren't presented properly, or I was too immature to appreciate them. So as an adult, I'm trying to be more open-minded to some of those. Some I've learned to appreciate and some I haven't, but at least I've given them a fair chance.

  14. I have a similar project, and I agree with you about the RSC editions. I feel that they focus more on the theatre part of it, and therefore gives a picture of the play as a lived and performed play. The next Shakespeare play on my list is Measure for Measure if you want to do a buddy-read.

    • Yes, I’d love to do a buddy read! I’m preparing for The Four Loves read-along but perhaps after June 1st? Is that okay to start?

        • Yes, I’m on Twitter. I usually do the same on Goodreads but I can see what I can do. You can find me at @Cleo_Classical. I tried to find you and I couldn’t so just follow me and I’ll follow you back.

          • That’s odd. You should be able to find me @lesserknowngems, but at least I’m now following you. And you’re on Goodreads. Can I ask what handle you have there?

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!