Sunday, August 19, 2007

COMIC STRIP SHAKESPEARE


It was announced this week that comic strip versions of Shakespeare plays are to be published for use in schools as Britain’s secondary school children find the original versions boring and difficult to understand. It is thought that youngsters will find the comic strip versions (written using simple English words and expressions) easier to understand and it will inspire them to take an interest in the Bard’s works. Surely part of the fun of learning Shakespeare is reading the plays in Shakespearean English and learning what all the terms mean. I enjoyed studying Shakepeare's plays at school. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare containing all his plays still takes pride of place on my bookshelf. Much of the beauty of the Bard’s work lies in the language more than the actual plot. Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain finely crafted passages. These will now be reduced to quick, snappy phrases. Reading comic strip versions of the plays which are illustrated by artists who worked on Spiderman cartoons, just won’t be the same.

The first play to get the “comic strip” treatment is Henry V. Shakepeare’s unforgettable line from the play which rallies the troops, “Once more into the breach dear friends”, will be replaced with, “Take a deep breath and fight. Get a fierce look in your eyes!” Eventually all Shakespeare’s plays will be available in the comic strip versions. There are also plans to produce comic strip versions of some classic novels like Great Expectations and Jane Eyre as well. It’s enough to send Shakespeare spinning in his grave!

11 comments:

Granimore said...

I agree it is a depressing thing to see Shakespeare reduced to the level of the Sunday funny papers, but if it gets the kids interested...

Still, I remember the thrill and laughs I had when I first read "Romeo and Juliet" and saw that classic line from Romeo's friends, upon seeing Juliet's nurses headdress: "A sail! A sail!"
I busted a gut.

Sheila said...

This is interesting Naomi. As a child in the late 50s and 60s, I grew up reading a series of comics called Classics Illustrated which took great works of literature and presented them in a comic book form. I don't remember how much the language was changed but this series fueled my love of literature and I hope this new (really, is anything new again) series does that. Maybe the kids will be explosed to the idea that Shakespeare had some fine plays and they'll turn to the original.

I, too, hate to see the original words replaced and updated. Looks like the visual is driving this project to the detriment of the written language.

Naomi said...

Yes it is very depressing Granimore. English Literature was one of my favourite subjects at school. As a lover of the classics and a writer, this style of doing Shakespeare just doesn't appeal to me at all.

I suppose there's a chance the comic book style will get some kids interested Sheila. It's just sad that Shakespeare had such a great writing style and by reading the plays in comics, kids are missing out on this.

Kate said...

I tend to agree with you. I suppose the comic strip format may help some children understand the ins and outs of the plots, but it is a shame they will miss out on the wonderful language. 'Take a deep breath and fight' really doesn't have the same impact as 'Once more into the breech . . .'.

Having said all that, I do think that the way Shakespeare is taught (and often performed) creates quite a negative impression in young minds so it is a good idea to try to make his work more accessible. However, I'm not if this is the way to do it. A better idea would be to take a lead from Al Pacino, his film 'Looking for Richard', really brings the characters and plot of 'Richard III' to life, while still preserving the integrity of the play. That film turned my DH from a Shakespeare hater into quite the fan which is something I would never have thought possible.

ps: thanks for visiting my poor neglected blog.

Dirty Butter said...

You say kids. I'm just wondering what age group these comics are aimed for. After all, part of the fun of reading Shakespeare in high school was snickering over all the double entendre and sexual innuendos.

Reminds me of that post you did about the rap version!

I'm like Shelia. I grew up with Classic Comics, and they never stopped me from reading the real thing, IF the comic interested me enough.

david santos said...

Naomi!
A nossa Menina Madeleine está a causa de um jogo, que ao que me parece, político.
Há alguém aí na Inglaterra, embora ainda nã haja garantias, interessada em não dizer a verdade sobre a nossa menina.
Até sempre

Marion said...

I hope it will fuel a desire for them to know more. They will get the gist of Shakespeare's stories at least. I think these comics are seeds that are planted.

Shakespeare must have had a sense of humour...

david santos said...

Naomi,
It has forts possibilities to have a conspiracy in England, so that the case of Madeleine is not clarified.

Palm Springs Savant said...

I'm a bit of a tradionalist myself. The British school system was one of the last hold outs of this...what's gone wrong?

The Gatekeeper said...

Yes, I hear you my friend. But I also believe (and you might disagree) that the comic book version will renew an interest in Shakespeare's original work.

I have a hard time getting my teenage son to read. But he's very interested in the comic version of anything and then finds, on his own, what the original was all about. Never fear, literature will not disappear.

Naomi said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. The comics are aimed at kids of 11 years and upwards. If it gets them interested in Shakespeare then yes the comics will be a good thing. But it was be sucb a waste if they didn't have a go at the "proper" version of Shakespeare.

David there are a lot of "untruths" and speculations going on about Madeleine at the moment. It is all very sad, especially for her distraught parents.