A Rhyming Guide to Shakespeare

atkins-bookshelf-literatureLet’s face it, reading Shakespeare is a bit of a challenge when compared to… um… reading 140-character tweets. Modern readers struggle with the Bard’s use of unfamiliar 16th-century words and unusual sentence construction. Enter James Muirden, a British professor who believes that Shakespeare’s work should be far more accessible to young people. His solution? He sat down with the Shakespeare canon and retold all of the plays as delightful, clever poems, sprinkled with insight and wit. Muirden’s book, Shakespeare in a Nutshell: A Rhyming Guide to All the Plays makes all the Bard’s plays accessible to modern-day groundlings. Here is an excerpt from the book:

KING LEAR

The burden of admin makes King Lear declare
That he’ll give his domain to his daughters
(Each ruling one part), and then, free of all care,
He’ll carouse with his knights and supporters.

The apportionment’s done by a novel device:
His three daughters are given a test
That matches the richness and size of their slice
To the filial love each professed.

That’s the theory, at least: but in fact we soon see
That Cordelia’s slated to win;
So that Regan and Goneril, older than she,
Are the losers before they begin!

But he’s shocked when Cordelia doesn’t exceed
Her sisters’ excesses. She states:
‘I love you, of course; but no more, I concede,
Than our mutual bonding dictates.

‘Both my sisters have husbands. It’s bare-faced deceit
To pretend so much passion for you . . .
When I marry, my husband will be in receipt
Of all the affection he’s due!’

Is she right in incurring her father’s displeasure,
Instead of just doing her stuff?
Like cool Isabella in Measure for Measure,
Is she simply not human enough?

King Lear goes ballistic, but Kent intervenes:
‘She’s just being honest, you know —

Undowered, she might have been left on the shelf:
But the King of France takes her as Queen,
Seeing riches unmined in the lady herself —
Though he vanishes after this scene.

For further reading: Why Study Shakespeare?
Shakespeare 400 Years On: Part 1
 The Shakespeare Thefts: In Search of the First Folio
Who Are the Greatest Shakespeare Characters?

Best Edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
The Most Common Myths About Shakespeare
Shakespeare the Pop Song Writer
Random Fascinating Facts About Shakespeare
Most Common Nicknames for Shakespeare
Most Beautiful Books of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Were Shakespeare’s Sonnets Written to a Young Man?
What Dictionary Did Shakespeare Use?
Shakespeare’s Portrait as A Young Man Discovered

Most Common Nicknames for Shakespeare
Most Beautiful Books of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Were Shakespeare’s Sonnets Written to a Young Man?

What Dictionary Did Shakespeare Use?

For further reading: Shakespeare in A Nutshell: A Rhyming Guide to All the Plays by James Muirden (2004)

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