Two Girls Read Shakespeare: or
In Which We Correct The Miseducation of Megan & Nicole
It was a cold, wintry night when Megan (of write meg!) joined Nicole (of Linus’s Blanket) on her weekly feature “That’s How I Blog!” — a chronicle of the reading and blogging habits of those in the book blog community. It didn’t take long for the ladies to discuss classic literature, and what “classic” conversation can be brought up without the mention of William Shakespeare?
Reading Shakespeare as an adult is an entirely different experience than reading his works as an awkward, bored teenager. Megan’s previous experience with the Bard was limited to reading “Romeo & Juliet” in high school, acting in a few school plays and briefly memorizing a sonnet or two for theatrical auditions. College was much of the same — random experiences with Shakespeare as she studied English. One semester-long course introduced her to some of the history plays and she dug them, but the language always proved overwhelming. And, truth be told, I probably spent more time comparing one of my classmates to a dinosaur (no, really — he had a flat head!) than paying attention to the immortal words of love poured forth by our man William.
Nicole’s experience with Shakespeare is equally limited, actually, probably even more limited that Megan’s. Only for only a few short months as a freshman in high school did Nicole ponder “to be or not be with” Hamlet — Nicole chose to be. That’s pretty much all she remembers except some brief hand wringing by Ophelia before she is found floating down the river, and maybe some hand washing- but on further reflection that may have been in “Macbeth,” the evil machinations of that dude who was trying to separate Othello and his woman, and Iago and his trials with “The Merchant of Venice.” Any real understanding was limited by the lack of interest in dusty old texts where the English was unwieldy and extremely dated. Nicole then went on to college and, also as a freshman, with some small effort managed to avoid any mention the bard until Claire Danes and Leo DiCaprio did “Romeo and Juliet” and the student housing cable played it ad nauseum, ad infinitum and other Latin-esquey words with which Nicole is unfamiliar. She finished her stint in school sans reading any of Billy’s work and never looked back.
Which, dear readers, brings Megan and Nicole to the present moment, when post-“That’s How I Blog!” Nicole said to Megan, “Hey girl! Do you want to read some Shakespeare and talk about it on our blogs?” And Megan said, “Sure! What should we call it?” And they thought long and hard before e-mailing each other simultaneously, “How about ‘Two Girls Read Shakespeare’?”
And that’s exactly what’s happening!
Over the next few months, we’ll be spending time with the Bard’s sonnets and plays before picking up some of the modern “spin-offs” and sequels. And when better to discuss Shakepeare’s sonnets — considered by some to be insanely romantic (or just insane?) — than on Valentine’s Day?
On Sunday, Feb. 14, Nicole and Megan will post their discussion of Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) and Sonnet 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…”). We hope you’ll join us and share your thoughts, comments and criticisms! All are welcome to contribute, regardless of whether you’re a lifelong Shakespeare fan or a total novice. We’ll chat about more sonnets each Friday in February before moving on to a larger work — to be announced very soon.
So brush up on Billy’s poetry by checking out The Sonnets,
all available for free right here:
And check back to spend Valentine’s Day (and the spring!)
with Megan, Nicole and the Bard!
P.S. And because we both love John Mayer we will each try to bring everything back to one of his songs… you know… for extra credit, if we can.