“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

As part of Stainless Steel Droppings Once Upon a Time event I have just read a Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare.  Not only is this rather fitting for the time of year but it’s something of a novelty for me as I have never managed to completely read any of Shakespeare’s stories before.  I know this may seem staggering to some but I’ve always got distracted by the fact that they’re plays not books.

Anyway, I read a Midsummer Night’s Dream and I did enjoy it.  Obviously the prose are lyrical (although I still maintain that it’s nicer to hear somebody speaking the words than reading them and I really do love this play) and the story is quirky and amusing.  I’m not going to go into the plot other than to say it’s a story about love primarily and how love sometimes goes round in circles.  The story involves four separate couples and we also have a small troupe of would-be actors who intend to stage their own play for one of the soon to be married couple as part of the celebrations.

What I love about this novel and what primarily struck me is the fact that we loved then, and continue to love now, stories that involve the fey.  Of course there is no shortage of novels these days that have the fey living amongst us but I enjoyed going back and reading a play from the tudor times where the author also works on this concept.  I wonder how far back we could look and find such fairy stories or more to the point how these ever came about.

So, I won’t go into it any further.  I’ve chosen a couple of quotes (well, it’s Shakespeare so it felt obligatory) that I enjoyed.

Bottom: ‘methinks I am marvellous hairy about the face; and I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me I must scratch’.

Titania: ‘My Oberon! What visions have I seen! Methought I was enamoured of an ass.’ (I love that quote)

Anyway, in conclusion, I did enjoy this and I will pick up more of the bard as a result – but I’m not sure it beats seeing the play!

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36 Responses to ““Lord, what fools these mortals be!””

  1. Carl V. Anderson

    Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde…both are wonderful for quotes. I actually enjoy reading both of them aloud, if only to myself, for the reasons you mention. They are plays and thus flow better when the lines are being spoken.

    I saw this one on Broadway done by the Royal Shakespeare Company many years back and have been a fan ever since. My favorite Shakespeare remains Much Ado About Nothing, but this comes a very close second. I’m glad you succeeded in finishing it.

    • lynnsbooks

      Actually it was a really good read. I still prefer the play but I think because I’ve seen the play and a few different versions of the film it makes it easier to understand. I think this is my favourite story – of course I haven’t read the others although I’ve seen a few. I also really like Hamlet and Merchant of Venice.
      Lynn:D

      • Carl V. Anderson

        I haven’t read a great many of them either. My first experience with Shakespeare was as a junior in high school and we read Macbeth. That teacher taught me how to appreciate the work and I have a fondness for this play because of that.

      • lynnsbooks

        Twelfth Night is another of the stories I like – perhaps I should read that one next. I was thinking when I was reading that whether you’ve read Shakespeare or not – you will definitely know some quotes from his works. It’s good that you had a teacher who helped you to appreciate these works – we didn’t study Shakespeare in school which was a bit of a shame really. My daughter did though and actually studied your favourite – Much Ado – in fact we watched a film for that – Kenneth Branagh’s version.
        Lynn 😀

      • Carl V. Anderson

        Yes, I like Twelfth Night. Both the play and the film version starring Helena Bonham Carter. And the Branagh version of Much Ado is great.

  2. "Auntie"

    Ahhh yes, I recognized the quote! :-))))

    I’ve never read a full Shakespeare. -hangs head in shame- -giggggles-

    And ahhhhh yes, The Fey!

    Hmmmmm, if they do go back so far, could they really be (or have been) real? Hmmmmm… Hmmmm…

    Last night, as we (family) sat around the Fire Pit, and saw Fireflies twinkling… It was easy to “see Faeries”….. 🙂

    Happy Summer!

    “Auntie”

    • lynnsbooks

      Well, I enjoyed this but it’s partly because I already know the story and enjoy it. Plus I love reading about the fey! Yes, maybe the fey really mingled with us many years ago – before they realised they had to hide in plain sight!
      I think though that I still prefer to see the play or film. There’s something about hearing the lines said aloud that makes them more dramatic than just the written word. Although obviously the prose are beautiful. Takes a bit of figuring out with some of the words though because they’re no longer in use!
      Lynn 😀

  3. Divers and Sundry

    i’ve read some shakespeare plays and seen some. i much prefer seeing them. since i’ve read this one, i plan on watching one of the filmed versions for the challenge. i have a link to one online if i can just find it. i like the quotes you picked lol

    • lynnsbooks

      The film I remember had Michelle Pfeiffer in it and Christian Bale. I can’t remember if I’ve seen another version or not! I do prefer the play definitely – you have the visual and the listening and the acting gives more meaning to the lines somehow – as though you don’t have to think about what’s being said quite as much, they take on their own life.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Classics Club – book list | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare review here […]

  5. nrlymrtl

    I agree that seeing the plays are way better than reading the play to yourself in silence. Especially if there are costumes….like a man dressed as an ass.

    • lynnsbooks

      Haha, a man dressed as an ass! Whatever next. I do like this story. I never cottoned on before but the guy who is dressed as an ass is called ‘Bottom’. LOL
      Lynn 😀

  6. Lisa (@EffingRainbow)

    I have also read and enjoyed this one, though I agree it’s more fun to hear it being read. I’ve never seen a live play, sadly, though I would love to! My first encounter with Shakespeare was studying Macbeth at school, and I think that one’s still my favourite. Grimdark, before grimdark was cool. Shakespeare knew how to roll. 🙂

    • Elizabeth

      Ah! That’s what grimdark means! That’s a great definition. Huh…. Saw the play back in the 1980s. Yes, very grimdark. The only colorful/cheerful thing in the whole play were the children- who were killed.

      • lynnsbooks

        Grimdark – is such an apt expression and sort of just rolls off the tongue!
        Lynn 😀

    • darkcargo

      Ah! That’s what grimdark means! That’s a great definition. Huh…. Saw the play back in the 1980s. Yes, very grimdark. The only colorful/cheerful thing in the whole play were the children- who were killed.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – Shakespeare was the man – writing about fey and grimdark long before anyone!! Take that!!!
      Lynn 😀
      BTW – you should go and try a play – it’s a completely different experience than reading his works. 😀

  7. jessicabookworm

    I agree with you totally Lynn. I studied Theatre at university and yet I’ve hardly read any Shakespeare because I feel it was written to be performed. Reading it is ok but I think you lose so much of the effect.

    • lynnsbooks

      I think that if the play is well acted it makes the meaning of the words apparent as oppose to when you read Shakespeare and sometimes have to really consider what’s just been said! I mean, obviously Shakespeare is massively read but I do still think the story comes over bet when seen at the theatre. You studied theatre at uni – so presumably you must have seen a lot of good plays. Do you recommend anything in particular??
      Lynn 😀

      • jessicabookworm

        Oh my don’t make me choose on the spot. However keeping to the theme I did go to see Romeo and Juliet at the RSC in Stratford. I was a little sick of the play after studying it at school but this production was excellent, and so rescued my love of the play. I also saw a really fun production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream by final year students at my university.

      • lynnsbooks

        A Midsummer Night is fun isn’t it? I really like the story.
        Lynn 😀

      • jessicabookworm

        Yes it is, so is Much Ado About Nothing although I haven’t managed to see that live yet. Kenneth Branagh did a great film adaptation though.

      • lynnsbooks

        Yes, I’ve seen the film – it’s very good.
        Lynn 😀

  8. darkcargo

    Thanks Lynn! Your reading & post inspired a search for local theatre troupes in the city, and guess what? There’s actually a Shakespeare Troupe in town! I can’t believe it! It looks like they alternate a Shakespeare with another play from the Elizabethan era. So tonight and tomorrow they’re doing something called “King Arthur and the Sword of Britain”, and then next weekend they resume with Twelfth Night. YAH! Duncan’s going to “love” this! Whee!

    • lynnsbooks

      Oh, I’m well jealous. I wonder if the King Arthur Sword play is based on T H White’s Once and Future King? Twelfth Night is an excellent story – I love it. I hope you’re going to post about it!
      Lynn 😀

  9. cherylmahoney

    Reading Shakespeare is definitely different than seeing it performed, but I think both bring different things to it. In a performance, you hear ONE interpretation. Reading yourself, you’re free to explore and consider different ways something could be said–or just to make your own interpretation as you choose how to read a line.

    I also find that sometimes Shakespeare is easier to understand when being spoken by someone who understands it–and other times it’s helpful to be able to go at my own pace reading, and puzzle some of his more convoluted lines out!

    Anyway, glad to hear you enjoyed Midsummer! Much Ado is my favorite Shakespearean comedy, but the “lovers lost in the woods” sequence is my favorite single scene in all of Shakespeare!

    • lynnsbooks

      I quite agree – I suppose if you were watching a performance that was below par for example or where the actors didn’t really understand the phrases then it wouldn’t really bring anything to it – other than hearing some lovely prose spoken out loud!
      The lovers in the woods is a great scene – plus I really like the scenes with Bottom being given an asses head!
      Lynn 😀

  10. TBM

    I read the play last year for this challenge and enjoyed it. But I’m with you, seeing a play is so much better.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know. Going to see a play at the theatre is such a great experience. I suppose you must get loads of choice being in London?
      Lynn 😀

      • TBM

        We do have lots of choices in London and not just plays. It’s so hard to decide what to spend money on. and things in London are pricey which complicates things some.

  11. Carol

    I agree, it’s best to see them rather than read them, but sometimes we have to made do.

    • lynnsbooks

      Exactly! Not to mention the plays are not always available to see but the books are always available to pick up – and there is of course the cost which could become a bit much if you went to see ALL of Shakespeare’s plays. I do like to watch them though.
      Lynn 😀

  12. cherylmahoney

    Congrats on your first reading of Shakespeare! I find he gets easier to read with repeat exposure. 🙂 You picked a great first one, though–the scene of the lovers lost in the woods may be my favorite in all of Shakespeare! Although–Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Comedy, taken in entirety (if you were looking for what to read next…!)

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I love that particular story so it was pretty easy for me. I do like Much Ado, Twelfth Night and Hamlet so perhaps one of those next.
      Lynn 😀

      • cherylmahoney

        And Hamlet is my favorite tragedy! A cliche choice, perhaps, but it just has the best lines…

      • lynnsbooks

        Well – I already have a copy of Twelfth Night on The Kindle so perhaps that one next – and then Much Ado.
        Ta
        Lynn 😀

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