sexta-feira, setembro 09, 2016

"Shakespeare and I - Mirroring All Façades of Reality" (Preface) by MySelfie

38 plays, 154 sonnets, and 4 poems ("A Lover's Complaint", "Venus and Adonis", "The Rape of Lucrece", "The Phoenix and the Turtle") in 2461 silky-paper pages (in my A. L. Rowse edition). After coming out of the black hole on the other side of the galaxy, what I've got to report? First and foremost, was it worth it? Definitely yes. To have steeped my mind in the words and the themes, to be elevated by Shakespeare’s Weltanschauung, his ability to put life on display in words, that's what made me undertake this so-called project. It's taken me three years of fun, but I've read the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Borges, in “Everything and Nothing”, said it much better:

“The story goes that shortly before or after his death, when he found himself in the presence of God, he said: ‘I who have been so many men in vain want to be one man only, myself.’ The voice of God answered him out of a whirlwind: ‘Neither am I what I am. I dreamed the world the way you dreamt your plays, dear Shakespeare. You are one of the shapes of my dreams: like me, you are everything and nothing.’”

Borges believed Shakespeare mirrored all the façades of reality. I couldn’t agree more. One of the biggest ways this has been a rewarding experience is that I kept a detailed notebook as I was reading, so now that I've finished, I can look back and truly appreciate all the stuff that went into it. The book you’re holding in your hands, clocking in at around 106 000 words and 531 pages, is the end result of those notes. This project made me come across a lot of surprises, ie., the things I didn't think would grab me, the things I might never have read on my own if it weren't part of this undertaking.

For me this was Titus Andronicus, Measure for Measure, and Coriolanus, and the histories which read like one close-knit tapestry when all read at once, and the sonnets, oh my God the sonnets. This finished product is not like something I’ve ever done previously. Knowing what the layout and finished product was supposed to look like in advance allowed me to work with less stress and improve upon the formula, as opposed to creating the formula from scratch and hoping it worked out.

Some of what you’ll read here is also in my third book: “Shapes, Scenes and Strokes - Book Reviews 2015”. But I just wanted to have all of my perambulations on Shakespeare in just one place. This book is that place. I've always thought of Shakespeare as a vehicle instead of a destination. It’s a vehicle because it allows me to understand all the complex texts that I may have to encounter in my contemporary world. To "me" Shakespeare and studying literature in general is akin to a "religious experience." If you practice in an organized faith you are expected to attend services in a "community setting" but to me, if you have any faith in anything, the true experience is strictly personal in nature.

I've long been a Shakespeare aficionado. I first experienced Shakespeare reading Hamlet at the British Council in Lisbon when I was very young. I’ve always loved his lush language and characters. My English teacher at the time (Vicki Hartnack), aware of my love for Shakespeare, encouraged me not to give up on the Bard, but to read more of his work. Eventually, I did, but not to my deepest satisfaction. Later on, after college, I took a Shakespeare class in English at the “Universidade de Letras” in Lisbon, as well as reading some of the sonnets on my own. Also almost at the same time, I also took another English Lit class, where I learned more about the life of the man, the stories behind the sonnets, and read a few of his lesser known plays. So when it comes to build up my list of his work, quite a few Shakespeare titles happen to be repeats. So much the better. In case there’s anyone out there that has been reading the things I’ve been writing on my blogs, probably noticed that one of my “projects” for 2014, 2015 (and now 2016) was to read through all of Shakespeare’s Works. Unfortunately, in 2014 I wasn’t able to start this project (I read some Shakespeare stuff, but no plays). 2015 was where things really started shaping up Shakespeare-wise. But things were looking even better for 2016. On top of that, 2016 commemorated 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare and this special anniversary year was a truly unique opportunity to complete my quest of reading the rest of his entire body of work.

Why a project like this, you wonder? For several reasons. First, I was ashamed that, as a lover of Shakespeare, there were at least a third of his plays which I’ve never read or seen performed. Secondly, I’d like to “translate” all of his work into current Portuguese, i.e., not the highfalutin kind but the one we speak every day. My aim is to allow the younger generations to enjoy “Shakespeare” in the 21st century and beyond that. Having the purpose of the first reason underway, I am now also working on a remedy for the second. At the very least, I am having so much fun discussing and nerding out with Shakespeare. More than that I though, I can’t wait to bring this idea of rendering Shakespeare's English into Portuguese to fruition. As used to say the Spanish poet Antonio Machado: “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar” ("walker, there is no path, the path is made by walking"), meaning "find your own Shakespeare".

All the chapters are presented here in the order they were written. No attempt was made to clean them up. 71 out of the 103 chapters were published on my blog. The last 32 were exclusively written for this book edition (from chapter 72 to chapter 103), and won’t be published anywhere else.

This book took me three years to write. It’s was a real labour of love.

NB: If “Shakespeare and I” was good enough for Shakespeare (“All debts are cleared between you and I” in “The Merchant of Venice”), it was also good enough for me.

Manuel Augusto Antão

Lisbon, September 2016

5 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

Your perseverance in reading Shakespeare has inspired me enough that one day, I too, shall read all of his stuff.
I only have the "Complete Shakespeare" and not the annotated, so it doesn't look so intimidating :-)

Manuel Antão disse...

Thanks for taking the time to read what I write when there is so much other stuff around all of us. It only took me three years, but now the real journey begins...

Book Stooge disse...

I am thinking of becoming a communist in regards to Shakespeare and make an official "5 Year Plan"

I had to do a bot check, in portugese!

Manuel Antão disse...

A 5 year plan is even better than a 3 year plan like mine. I had to push myself to be able to finish in the original timeframe If you need any help with the portuguese feel free to ask...

Manuel Antão disse...

A 5 year plan is even better than a 3 year plan like mine. I had to push myself to be able to finish in the original timeframe If you need any help with the portuguese feel free to ask...