- Author Ben Crystal
Shakespeare has always been a bit of an enigma to me. Like most Shakespeare heathens, I don’t mind the odd Romeo and Juliet here and there, and comparing people to a summer’s day is fun, but mostly it’s just too much work. I wanted to read this because it seemed like a nice, friendly introduction to Shakespeare, not taking itself too seriously, and thus I could see if I was missing out on anything good.
After reading, I came to the conclusion that I probably am missing out a lot, but that it really is a bit too much like hard work for me. However, I really enjoyed this book, it opens up the myths of Shakespeare, dusts them down and then rips them to shreds. I love that it doesn’t try to make Shakespeare a big literary god to be bowed down to. He’s a genius, no question, but his work is not something to be scared of, it’s there to be picked at and pored over and, most of all, enjoyed.
A lot of this introduction to Shakespeare is involved in setting the scene for where the works take place. To get your head around Shakespeare and his plays, you really need to imagine what it was like to be an Elizabethan. Comparing the plays to soap operas and really digging in to why the witches were so terrifying was fascinating to me.
When it came to the nitty gritty, I was interested to read about the format of poetry, about the fact that Shakespeare was guiding pauses and stage directions simply through the rhythm of his writing, but then actually dissecting a scene failed to get me as excited as the writer may have hoped. I really recommend this book as a good place to start for Shakespeare newbies, though, because you may just find it opens up a whole new world for you!