Friday, April 27, 2012

The Bard

The Blue Wizard of Oz asks, "Can you recommend, for someone mostly unfamiliar with Shakespeare, a good place to start to appreciate his prose or poetry?"

Good question.  I don't know.  I just found out I won't get a chance to teach my Shakespeare, science fiction or film history classes next fall, so I appreciate the change to ponder Uncle Bill.

Going to see quality productions of Shakespeare seems like a good start.  I love how after I see a Shakespeare production I think in iambic pentameter.  You could also watch some good Shakespeare movies.  (What constitutes a "good Shakespeare movie"?  Well, I love Orson Welles' Macbeth, Chimes at Midnight, and Othello, but I think they all bored me when I first saw them.  I love Olivier's Hamlet, Henry V, and Richard III too.  I remember seeing part of Olivier's Hamlet around second grade, and I liked the ghost and the poison in the ear.  Snobbishly I tried to memorize the "To be or not to be" soliloquy.)  (You haven't really appreciated Hamlet until you've read it in the original Klingon.)  (Just kidding.)  I also like the 30's version of A Midsummer's Night Dream with Jimmy Cagney and Mickey Rooney.  I also love Kurosawa's versions of King Lear (Ran) and Macbeth (Throne of Blood).

For the poetry, I remember reading comedies in a group of friends in college.  We read A Midsummer's Night Dream sitting on the grass, and we read Twelfth Night in my dorm room.  Some folks at the Maybe Logic Academy had talked about starting a Shakespeare study group.  I also like two anthologies of Shakespeare's poetry Ted Hughes edited.  I think you can easily get one called Essential Shakespeare.

I recommend getting a complete Shakespeare and just reading out loud.


  1. Dear Professor Eric,

    I'm kind of a newb to poetry but I enjoyed the Charles Bukowski documentary Born Into This. Any thoughts on Mr. Bukowski's poetry?

    Here's the doc if anyones interested.

  2. This isn't really a question on poetry and it might be a little long.

    I recently read a polemic of tolstoy's that detailed his many criticisms of Shakespear, particularly his (in tolstoys view) plagiarism (tolstoy accused shakespear of making them worse, where others said he made them better) of earlier authors. With the majority of people who sing shakespears praises, in the literary world, I was a little shocked that tolstoy criticsed shakespear.

    What do you think of this polemic and of Tolstoy?