Reading Shakespeare in the 21st Century


I've always though of Shakespeare as a vehicle instead of a destination. It’s a vehicle because it allows me to understand all the complex texts that I may have to encounter in my contemporary world.  

To "me" Shakespeare and studying literature in general is akin to a "religious experience." If you practice in an organized faith you are expected to attend services in a "community setting" but to "me", if you have any faith in anything, the true experience is strictly personal in nature. 

I've long been a Shakespeare aficionado. I first experienced Shakespeare reading Hamlet at the British Council in Lisbon when I was very young. I’ve always loved his lush language and characters. My English teacher at the time (Vicki Hartnack), aware of my love for Shakespeare, encouraged me not to give up on the Bard, but to read more of his work. Eventually, I did, but not to my deepest satisfaction.

Later on, after college, I took a Shakespeare class in English at the “Universidade de Letras” in Lisbon, as well as reading some of the sonnets on my own. Also almost at the same time, I also took another English Lit class, where I learned more about the life of the man, the stories behind the sonnets, and read a few of his lesser-known plays. So when it comes to build up my list of his work, quite a few Shakespeare titles happen to be repeats. So much the better.

In case there’s anyone out there that has been reading the things I’ve been writing here, probably noticed that one of my “projects” for 2014 and 2015 (and now 2016) was to read through all of Shakespeare’s Works. Unfortunately last year I wasn’t able to finish this project. But things are looking good for 2016.

Why a project like this, you wonder. For several reasons. First, I was ashamed that, as a lover of Shakespeare, there were at least a third of his plays which I’ve never read or seen performed. Secondly, I’d like to “translate” all of his work into current Portuguese, i.e., not the highfalutin kind but the one we speak every day. My aim is to allow the younger generations to enjoy “Shakespeare” in the 21st century and beyond that. Having the purpose of the first reason underway, I am now also working on a remedy for the second. At the very least, I am having so much fun discussing and nerding out with Shakespeare. More than that though, I can’t wait to bring this idea of rendering Shakespeare's English into Portuguese to fruition.

Stay tuned for this work in progress. 

As used to say the Spanish poet Antonio MachadoCaminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar ("walker there is no path, the path is made by walking"), meaning "find your own Shakespeare".

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