Now Is The Winter of My Discontent

by LimebirdCat

I’m at that point now in life where I’m nearly 30 and realising that I have not really done much or gone anywhere. I think I have literally spent my 20’s hacking away at the coal face to make a  crust and too much of life has passed me by in the meantime.

Now, to be fair, since I hit my 20’s in 2003, I have become a wife and a mother – the two most important things I would ever want to achieve in my life (two boxes ticked right there).

But if I’m being self-pitying (all woe is me!!) and selfish for a moment whilst I rummage through the box in my head that’s labelled ‘Things To Do Before I’m 30’, I find myself lacking in some areas.

One of the things in there is the lazy wish to get back into reading Shakespeare. To be honest, I have shunned the Bard shamefully over the past few years as I overdosed on his work during my formal education. All of his plays were dissected and discussed in such minute detail, that the sheer joy and pleasure of simply reading his work was lost somehow in the process. In my mind, Shakespeare became too quickly associated with ‘work’ and hours of tiring, tedious reading.

Now that it’s been a few years since the last time I read one of his plays, I’ve decided to get back into reading him. Back ‘onto the breach once more dear friends’ – and all that.

I have a few to choose from in my collection, but I think I’ll go with Richard III. It’s the only one that hasn’t been annotated to death and besides, it’s the one I’m most unacquainted with.

Considered one of William Shakespeare’s earlier plays, certainly one of his earlier histories, I have, alas, not yet seen it performed or read it with any interest before.

I’m a fan of only two of his plays – Othello and The Tempest and I have seen the latter performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, much to my delight. They are just wonderful but in different ways.

Othello offers one of the absolute best ever bad guys ever– Iago. That guy is just the pits and yet you can’t help but be entranced by the character as he goes about his plotting and scheming.

Then there is The Tempest, so rich and wonderful in theme and form; a veritable delight to read and engage with.

Yet the history plays have never tickled my fancy or stirred my imagination. Perhaps that makes me a philistine. Perhaps I’m ignorant. Well, on my ‘Things To Do Before I’m 30’ list, it’s right up there to get some Shakespeare read, so I am going to get reading.

Why do I offer this nuance of information with you? Why am I of the belief that you need to know any of this? Because I think it’s important to read widely and revisit things.

Even the things you did to death at school, college or University. Even if you think there is nothing more you can get out of them – be mindful that one thing you should always derive from reading is the simple pleasure of it. Even if the language is archaic and flowery, something like Shakespeare can still rock your world.

Be bold! Be brave with your reading choices! Revisit To Kill a Mockingbird and Seamus Heaney!  School can sometimes fool you into thinking that the work of these writers was done specifically for schools and stuffy academics when, in fact, they were written for everyone.

From a writing perspective, it helps to read widely too. You never know when something you’ve read can inspire you or assist you out of a particularly stubborn bout of the dreaded writers block.

I’ll let you know how I get on with Bill’s play and get back to you (as I’m sure you are desperate to find out and utterly riveted by what I have already written).



15 Responses to “Now Is The Winter of My Discontent”

  1. Ohh good luck with the Mr S reading. One author that I had to read at college that I refuse to go back and read again is Chaucer. Seriously, don’t even try and make me, you can’t make me! Or Wilkie Collins, or John Milton. I’m allergic to them.

    I love this quote – “School can sometimes fool you into thinking that the work of these writers was done specifically for schools and stuffy academics when, in fact, they were written for everyone.” It’s definitely true that you get put off from reading certain things. I know that I’m a bit unsure about revisiting some novels after having to scour through it with a fine tooth comb. Great post!

  2. I am so with you with Chaucer. Blinkin’ madness that is! I think for me it was Joyce and Woolf. Ruddy modernists drove me a tiny bit mental. Middle English was possibly a pleasure compared to that at times! Glad you enjoyed my post 🙂

  3. I took a couple of good Shakespeare classes and really appreciated the opportunity to look at the plays again with good teachers. In one class, we got to create our own final projects; mine was three YA stories based on themes on Shakespeare’s plays. It was pretty fun! I think that’s one of the fun things about diving back into works like that–you will probably get something out of it. And if you don’t, at least you gave it a shot, right?

  4. Great plan, Cat!

    Once in a while I will tell myself I must read this classic, or that classic, or something really profound. But I never do it. Your post has revived that desire in me once again!

    I “had to” read a lot of his plays in high school, and they all went over my head until they were dissected in class by the teacher.Then, I loved the stories and thought “Wow, this man is a genius!”

    I don’t know that I’ll be able to dive into one of his plays anytime soon, I might have to ease myself in, start off small.

    But I love your idea and what a classy idea it is!

  5. I feel the same way, knocking on 30’s door and nothing to show for it.

    I’m a big ole nerd and always loved those books they made us read in school, Wuthering Heights, Beowulf (the second time, for some reason I hated it the first time we had to read it), To Kill a Mockingbird.. even The Canterbury Tales hehe. Good luck on Shakespeare, which I was actually never a huge fan of.

  6. You guys are just babies at almost 30. I’m more than double your age.

    Cat, I really enjoy your style of writing…it just seems to flow and is so interesting..

  7. Nearly 30? Just wait till 40 my friend, just wait…

  8. I think that no matter what you do or accomplish in life, you’re always going to think you’ve missed out on something. The day you don’t feel that is the day you should start to worry.

  9. I turned 30 last month, and I would like to say: it’s amazing! It was just the kick in the butt I needed to start doing more of the things I wanted to do with my life. Sounds like you are having a similar experience (:

  10. Good luck with all your (re)reading!

    You say, of Richard III, “I have, alas, not yet seen it performed or read it with any interest before.” You have to see the 1995 version (which I have on DVD) which is set in the 1930’s and stars Sir Ian McKellen as Richard III (Nigel Hawthorne as Clarence, Kristin Scott Thomas as Lady Anne and Robert Downey Jr. as Earl Rivers).

    The play is abridged, but definitely worth watching.

  11. I just turned 30 and am also casting a weary eye over the things I wanted to do by now but somehow didn’t get round to!

    Your Shakespeare resolution is a brilliant idea, I love Richard III, enjoy! I am now considering revisiting to books I studied at school. Some of them have remained good friends – Dickens, Milton, Shakespeare himself – but others have disappeared into the shelves. You will probably think I’m crazy but I think I might start with Chaucer!

    Let us know how you get on with the other plays!

  12. I was bought “Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets” by Don Patterson, an excellent deeper look at them, with a wry and sometimes disparaging outlook. Very good and to be recommended.


  13. Don’t worry about being almost 30. You’ll still have a list at 40 and 50 and on and on. If you didn’t there would be anything left to do! As for Shakespeare, not on my list.

  14. I never want to read anything that I was FORCED to read again. Though strangely, I don’t disagree with the point of your post. I actually think you’re right. I’m just too personally traumatized to take your advice. I found Shakespeare boring as hell and I still do.

    Other personal loathings include the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut – what a vicious piece of anti-socialist trash. And anything by Jack London.


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