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Thread: Who Do You Think Is Harder to Read: Milton or Shakespeare?

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    Who Do You Think Is Harder to Read: Milton or Shakespeare?

    In your opinion, whose texts are more difficult to read: Milton or Shakespeare?


    And what books/aids do you read alongside Milton/Shakespeare (or any other writer for that matter) to improve comprehension?

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    Unfortunately, they are both boring obsolete to me. So I can't tell you.

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    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    A Elizabethan dictionary is useful for both, and available for download from Gutenberg. I read Paradise Lost with the help of footnotes available on-line.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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    Left 4evr Adolescent09's Avatar
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    IMO, Paradise Lost and even more so, Paradise Regained are walks in the park compared to some of the more difficult unabridged Shakespearean plays.
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    I think it is Miller... bcz you need more than the text in front of you, you need to read the work and the analysis to get the line of thought of the writer.i

    in Shakespeare's works, the problem is the languge but still u can understand the general meaning.
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    I think it is Miller... bcz you need more than the text in front of you, you need to read the work and the analysis to get the line of thought of the writer.i

    in Shakespeare's works, the problem is the languge but still u can understand the general meaning.
    Only happiness can overcome problems!

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    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Shakespeare is clear as day to me, always has been. Though both are modern writers, Milton often writes his English using Latin rules of grammar, and that has a tendency to throw me. However, neither should pose an unusual challenge for any man with an education. Even Middle English like Chaucer's or Gower's is comprehensible in spite of the antiquated spellings and obsolete diction, but I'd say that Middle English is still a struggle whenever I encounter it.
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    Milton is much harder than Shakespeare - I think all you need for Shakespeare is a "complete works" edition with a few notes to help you with the difficult vocabulary & more obscure classical and biblical references (although there are relatively few of these in Shakespeare... compared to Milton!)

    I like the RSC complete edition, but check out a few in the library to see which keeps you reading. I'd avoid the single texts that have more notes than actual text... Shakespeare doesn't need that much explanation, such volumes are for serious Shakespeare scholars, not someone wanting a good read. (If you get really hooked, and are a scholarly type, then read the "heavy" editions *after* reading a complete, lightly annotated edition.)

    I tried taking this approach for Milton using the Oxford World Classics "Paradise Lost", which is as lightly annotated as possible (but there are still lots of notes!) I ground to a halt, but may try again....

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    Beyond the world aliengirl's Avatar
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    The grand style of Milton didn't suit me. I could not get past book II of Paradise Lost. It was not because language was very difficult. My edition had sufficient footnotes for help but I lost interest after book I. Shakespeare is quite readable if you select a good edition with enough footnotes.
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    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliengirl View Post
    The grand style of Milton didn't suit me. I could not get past book II of Paradise Lost.
    You may wish to try his Samson Agonistes,which I found way more gripping. Besides, it's virtually written as a play.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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    They both did write in Modern English. If one has trouble with either, then additional study and experience with the English language is demanded.

    I used to think that Chaucer was difficult, but after a few more years of reading various and sundry things in English I found that there are few parts of the Canterbury Tales that are difficult; although it doesn't surprise me to learn that high school students can't understand parts of it.

    Living languages change constantly, and it is hard to keep track of the changes. Even in the few years that I have lived many spellings have changed, and some words have been abused to the point of being almost useless.

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    Left 4evr Adolescent09's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterL View Post
    Living languages change constantly, and it is hard to keep track of the changes. Even in the few years that I have lived many spellings have changed, and some words have been abused to the point of being almost useless.
    Wise words.
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    BadWoolf JuniperWoolf's Avatar
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    I find Milton more challenging, you get into a rhythem with Shakespeare more rapidly. Chaucer is more difficult than both of, but you eventually get his keys as well and it all starts to flow. Our brains can get used to anyone's writing it seems, as long as it isn't nonsense.
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    The first two books of PL are not that exciting, the best bits are in the middle. I find Shakespeare more of a challenge because he comes off deceptively simple as you're reading along, and then you have to stop yourself to go back and re-read parts because they can be so dense in meaning despite their ease of reading.
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    I agree with JuniperWolff. Chaucer is challenging to read.

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