“To be, or not to be: that is the question…”
I’ve never been interested in reading Shakespeare. Now, before Shakespeare disciples and doyens of all things literature come for me, I do have my own reasons.
I was not exposed or introduced to Shakespeare until later in life (in my twenties). I did African literature in high school and when it comes to literary legends, I’ve only been exposed to our own – Achebe, Soyinka, Thiong’o, Emecheta, Mphahlele and the likes. Although these are writers whose works are not as old as Shakespeare’s, these are the authors whose great works I was taught, have read and hold great respect for.
I recently had to discuss parody and pastiche in poststructuralist theatre, and I referred to Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. This tragicomedy is a parody of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and so I had to read both to be able to conduct my analysis.
This loss of Shakespeare virginity was not as bad as most first times go. I did enjoy Hamlet and read it in such a short space of time, enjoying the plot, the writing itself, all the way to the end. However, I wasn’t as blown away as I was told I’d be, that if I read Shakespeare I’d discover the greatest works of all time. Whether you’ve read his work or not, we know that in the literary world, his work still holds great importance and relevance but personally I have read works that have left a greater impression on me.
It’s a preference thing, isn’t it? We can’t all fall deeply in love with Shakespeare’s work, we don’t have to. I’m pretty sure there are people who absolutely hate it, and then there are people like me who appreciate it as good writing but not the most mind-blowing work in history.
Another important thing is that to be interested in literature, to participate in it or to show an understanding of it, does not require an obsession, reverence and passion about Shakespeare.
After breaking my virginity, I might consider revisiting his work. Who knows, I might actually find something to go crazy about.