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Thread: Should I study a Shakespeare play before reading it the first time?

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    Registered User fajfall's Avatar
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    Should I study a Shakespeare play before reading it the first time?

    I,,'d never study a film before watching it, but I read Titus and Coriolanus without a background and by the time I finished them I didn't remember what had happened. but when I,'Ve studied the themes, characters etc beforehand I can immediately recognise what is happening and thereby enjoy the beautiful language and story better.

    Also, does anyone actually read the plays without footnotes? The language is impossible to decipher much of the time.

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I think the best way of reading Shakespeare is the one that gives you most pleasure!
    I'm not native in English and read the plays first in a good German translation because it was the edition we had at home. Only much later I got aquainted with the original plays. The funny effect of this was that during a long time the German Shakespeare seemed more genuine to me than the original.
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 03-17-2016 at 11:18 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
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    Registered User fajfall's Avatar
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    Shakespeare is more popular in Germany than in any other non-English speaking country. Why is that?

    I'm reading Twelfth Night a few days after finishing the first reading and it's much more enjoyable without looking at notes every sentence as I understand the language much better now.

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    This article might interest you.
    http://www.theguardian.com/culture/t...am-shakespeare
    The fact is that discovered by great German writers of the late 18th century, like Lessing, Lenz and specially the Goethe of the Sturm und Drang period, Shakespeare became a major influence of German literature. The beautiful translations into German by Schlegel and Tieck and Dorothea Tieck caused him to be definitively adopted as a "German classic", placing him on the book shelf beside the great German authors.
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 03-18-2016 at 11:43 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Registered User fajfall's Avatar
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    Has Goethe been translated so well into English? What kind of style has he compared to Shakespeare? I love the idea of comparing national writers, eg. Iran's literature is poetry-based and is highly concentrated on love, drunkenness and God in it's national poets Hafez, Saadi, mushy am and Rumi. Shakespeare on the other hand has much more adult, dark, painful themes in his plays as well as jokes of all kinds.

    I'm no literati but To my understanding Goethe is completely neglected in the English-speaking world. I learnt about Goethe through secondary sources like newspaper articles saying migrants in Germany ought to have some idea of what Goethe is.

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    If I wanted to become familiar with a play by Shakespeare, perhaps because someone mentioned it, I would go to the library or the internet and look for a video. I have usually been able to understand the play once I saw it performed although subtitles help.

    However, commentaries are often valuable. I remember trying to read the Bhagavad Gita some years ago and it made no sense until I went through Eknath Easwaran's commentaries on his own translation of it.
    Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point. --Pascal

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    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Goethe is fairly well known in English speaking circles, at least to people who read classic literature. Faust and the Sorrows of Young Werther are widely studied in university even in English translation.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
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