Why Read Shakespeare

I picked up a copy of Hamlet at a bookstore in Milford called the Bookmatters. Here’s my review: it’s good and funny and you should read it not just for itself but for its ability to illuminate so many other things.

Shakespeare’s work has inspired so many authors. When I read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the line about Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, I thought OH! like Gabrielle Zevin must have read this! And maybe she did, but the Joyce line originally comes from Macbeth. Discovering this, I decided I needed to know a little Shakespeare.

But, I soon realized I already did. So many passages were familiar because they appear so many other places. One familiar line I read “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Now, I don’t know where I last heard it, but I remember where I read it next, Ed Yong quotes it in his book Immense World. I took a break after reading Act 1, and was reading the Yong book. So it was within an hour that I found myself reading the same line twice. Why is it fun connecting these dots? I don’t know, but it is.

Hamlet and Cincinnati

Reading Hamlet can help you appreciate two Cincinnati landmarks: Elsinore Castle and the Shakespeare Theater Company.

If you have been to Mt. Adams, you have probably passed a weird stone structure on Elsinore place that looks like part of a medieval castle, right at the base of the hill. I have passed under that arch many many times to climb the steps up to Eden park, the nearest nice walk, without wondering as to the name. Well, its a Shakespeare reference, Elsinore is the castle where the tragedy of Hamlet takes place.

The Shakespeare theater is the best ticket in town. For the price of a ticket to an AMC ticket to watch some disastrous excuse for a movie, you can go see real performers act live on stage. Its unforgettable. And what makes it even better is reading the text beforehand, because jokes in middle english can fly by live, but knowledge of the text really helps.






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