Saturday, December 15, 2007

On Shaky Ground

I have a puzzle. Maybe you can solve it. Tell me what you can about the following, and I quote:

Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame or a dowager
Long withering out a young man revenue.

There are people, actual real live thinking and breathing people who walk upright, who claim that this will still be read five hundred years from now, because it's classic and the best prose going.

My question to you is: How is anyone going to read it?

Question two: These beings claim that children will sit down and discover the magic of reading and all it brings to education, entertainment, and personal fulfillment, by reading this.

Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night's Dream. Scene One. Th
eseus speaks.

J. K. Rowling has brought tangible, portable, hold-in-your-hands no-batteries-or-translation-needed books to millions of children who have thus accelerated their love and appreciation for the printed word. In a language they understand. And they got an education about things because they wanted to. There's a wealth of ease here that Rowling has addressed.

The Bard of Avon will be read forever, I'm sure. By whom is one question. And how his masterful tales could be brought to the masses without loss in translation into the vernacular is another problem. Admit it, you snobs: Because of the way we now speak and think, Shakespeare is a problem.

Understand that those who fall all over themselves for Shakespeare are to be honored and respected for the ability and interest in such an endeavor. But if this is such grand and delightful material, will someone please find a way to bring it to the masses? Or are they going to share praises with the other twelve people who can fathom this? I can, and have, read some of his material, to be fair. But it's work. And try to find someone who wants to take on this kind of work. They are few, and that might be a shame. In fact, I'll concede it's a genuine shame.

Shakespeare has his heroes, and they're obviously smart cookies. So may I suggest something heroic to those fans: Dust off this arcane prose of legend, and allow the masses to raise their voices with a hearty huzzah and sundry expressions of visceral delight.

In short, tell us what this says.

Notice I'm not ready to suggest a mass reprinting of the Cliff Notes versions. Even thoug
h they're quite available. They miss something in translation, and that's obvious to those on either side of the question.

Meanwhile, we're reading the Harry Potter stuff. And other material we can understand with a little immediacy. Things that touch the heart and soul and intellect right now.

You think that Shakespeare is good and Rowling is bad? Offer up proof. We, the average people of the Earth would welcome it.


No comments: