Former regular readers may know that I have recently migrated north. Having returned to a state of appropriate distance from Canada (like North Dakota, my home and native land), I am loving the snow and the cozy indoor time for more reading! Thus I have embarked on a quest to read all of Shakespeare, and, dear readers, today I propose to bring you with me on that journey.
A bit of background: I started reading Shakespeare when I was eleven. My mom had her college copy of the Complete Works prominently displayed in our living room, and L.M. Montgomery's characters (Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, etc.) all discussed the Bard so much that I wanted to join in that conversation. I read Much Ado about Nothing first, then A Comedy of Errors. The former I have read many times since; the latter, not for these twenty years. I ended up taking four Shakespeare classes in college and one in graduate school, so while I am by no means a professional scholar in the subject, I have tackled the plays quite a bit with help from those scholars.
In any case, this summer it occurred to me that, should I die without completing the canon, I should deeply regret it. I lucked into a good part-time job for the year that leaves my mornings open for quiet contemplation, so I have begun filling in the gaps in my knowledge with diligent study. At this count, I have read twenty-five of the thirty-seven canonical works. So I am beginning with the plays I had never read, and plan to re-read all the plays I have read with new lenses.
For one cannot embark on such a project with just one's own edification in mind. As an English teacher, I try to put myself in the shoes of my students by tackling difficult and unfamiliar works, then seeing what strategies help me to make sense of the text. Also, I wish to forge a way of interacting with text, of prowling about in it and devouring morsels of wisdom and humor and sagacity while vehemently responding to these aged words. Ultimately I want to create an anarchist approach to text, one that prioritizes liberation and personal experience and the humanity of story-telling.
With this in mind, I will be writing a series of three posts on each of the plays:
- A "teaser," describing why you should read each play
- An analysis of what I found surprising or brilliant
- A description of Shakespeare the Anarchist (you knew that was coming, right?) as revealed in the text
This will function as a public journal of my readings. But should you be moved to read a play, I would be thrilled to host a guest blog post! I long for a world where we swap ideas about books freely and hilariously. And everyone needs more Shakespeare in her life.