Hello, friends! I had the most lovely weekend, catching up with old friends and showing off our new city, and now I couldn’t be more ready to chat about this month’s book club pick—our first play on the list.
Yesterday was William Shakespeare’s birthday, and he would have been 451 years old this year! While I can’t quite fathom a person living to be that old, I’m amazed by how well his plays have stood the test of time. I mean, seriously, who didn’t study one of his plays in high school? For me, it was Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Othello.
Since the Bard is still studied in schools around the world, it seems a little silly for me to give you background on him. (True story: One of the first projects that Spencer and I ever worked on together was a “Big Book of Shakespeare,” which received an A+, I might add!) Here’s what you probably already know. William Shakespeare was born on April 26, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote 37 plays and about 150 sonnets, and he was associated with the Globe Theatre in London, England.
While that’s all well and good, the thing that interests me most about Shakespeare are all of the conspiracy theories! Some scholars believe that he didn’t actually write any of the plays attributed to him and that “William Shakespeare” is just a pseudonym for another writer. In fact, it’s even believed that the man considered to be the Bard was illiterate based on the very few signatures of his that remain. (Is it really fair to base his literacy on his handwriting though? I know plenty of intelligent, literate people who write in chicken scratch!) Others think that William Shakespeare was in fact a group of writers, due to the depth and breadth of topics, people, and places covered in his plays. I say cut the guy some slack. Just because his father was a sheep farmer doesn’t automatically mean that he wouldn’t know anything about nobility or the royal family. Plus, look at that earring! That earring is not the earring of a sheep farmer, am I right?
But in all seriousness, Shakespeare, whether a him, a her, or a they, wrote some great stuff, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the plays and poems of his that I have read. I’d love to know if you’ve done any other research into Shakespeare and what the scholars have to say about him!
Now for some questions that came to my mind while reading Much Ado About Nothing.
- What was the function of the night watchmen of Messina?
- How did you feel about the portrayal of marriage?
- What was the funniest moment of the play for you?
- Could Beatrice be considered a feminist heroine?
- What did you think about the use of masks in the play?
- I read an article that “noting,” which meant gossiping or eavesdropping, was pronounced the same as “nothing” in Shakespeare’s day. Does this fact change how you view the way in which information is passed in this play?
- If you’ve ever seen this play performed, how did your viewing experience compare to your reading experience? (Films count, too!)
Don’t forget to join me here on Wednesday for Book Club Classics! I’ll be reviewing Much Ado About Nothing, and you can link up your own posts about Shakespeare’s play or any other books that you’re currently reading, particularly any classics.