Sunday, August 19, 2007

A sick joke gets even sicker

Just stumbled on this, via Ace of Spades. Tying in with last night's post about using comic books to prepare high school kids for College, now there's a plan afoot to present dumbed-down versions of Shakespeare. In comic book form, of course.

I'm amazed. But in fairness, Shakespeare is a tough read. I always had doubts about his plays, since they don't work too well when just reading them silently to oneself. But I recently discovered something that points out the obvious: He was writing plays for God's sake. They were intended to be presented by actors, in front of an audience. So of course they're easier to follow and more enjoyable that way.

My discovery, by the way, was a terrific mini-series called "In Search of Shakespeare" by Michael Wood. Now I enjoy the heck out of Wood's shows- maybe someday I'll write about him. But "Shakespeare" is pretty close to being his best. Part of it is wandering around England learning about Will, but he also has scenes where he has the Royal Shakespeare Company perform scenes from the plays. It makes a huge difference. The dvd of the Series could be hard to find, but it's worth the effort.

Anyhow, if you check out the first link, which leads to the article in The Daily Mail, scroll on down to the text samples. They present a nibble of text from Macbeth and another from Henry V. Now maybe I'm just an old fuddy-duddy, but I don't think the "short versions" are the same. They leave out a lot, particularly from the Macbeth quote. I think Lady Macbeth's two lines in the original version say a lot more than the one line does in the comic version. Shakespeare was, from what I know, a careful writer- he wasn't merely trying to fill space on a page. There's a difference between His Lady Macbeth telling her husband that if he screws up his courage they won't fail, and Comic Book Guy's Lady McBeth (I took the liberty of shortening her name, since it fits the theme here) simply saying "we won't fail". To me, it's apples and oranges.

But what do I know?

Ah well. I guess I'll just give a big "Harumph" and move along.

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