Shakespeare on Twitter: @ShakespeareYear
We’ve been connecting to Shakespeare lovers all over Twitter but sometimes we want more than 140 characters. Mary Lavers aka @ShakespeareYear is one of those people. She’s reading everything Shakespeare in a year. It’s an ambitious task in many ways. We know how difficult it is to wade through pages and pages of text–that’s why we created iBardbooks! Check out our interview with Mary to find out how she started blogging, why she decided to do this project and what surprises she encountered along the road.
Hi Mary! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m originally from Truro, Nova Scotia. I moved to Montreal in 1994 to attend McGill University, where I started out studying biochemistry but ended up completing a degree in Religious Studies and Women’s Studies (biochemistry is not for everybody!). Later I studied Early Childhood Education as well. I lived in Ottawa for a few years but now I’m back in Nova Scotia. I currently live in Dartmouth with my partner and our three-year-old daughter.
How did you start blogging?
I started my first blog, Cozy Little Book Journal, as a way to record my own thoughts on the books I was reading, really just for my own purposes. I thought if I kept track of which authors I liked and didn’t like, it would be easier to read them/avoid them in the future. But I came to really love the process of recording my thoughts on the books I read. It made me a better reader, I think. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that people started reading my blog!
You were 12-years-old when you decided to read all of Shakespeare’s books by 40. Where did that ambition come from?
I think I was a little bit like Lisa Simpson (from The Simpsons) in that regard. I was a bookish kid, but I was also very interested in SEEMING bookish, if that makes sense. I was a little bit obsessed with being “cultured.” I’m sure at 12, I was also bemoaning the fact that my town had no opera house or ballet theatre. Did I like opera and ballet? Who the hell knows? I just liked the idea of knowing about “high culture.” For me, Shakespeare was by far the most accessible way to become “culturally educated” (or at least what I thought was “cultured” at that age).
Do you still feel that way?
As I got older, my perspective changed of course. I came to appreciate all different kinds of cultural and educational experiences, not just the ones I thought were “elite” and not just for the sake of seeming smart! But Shakespeare still seemed like a worthy goal. If nothing else, I liked the idea of understanding the source material for all those Shakespearean references that show up in everyday life all the time.
Have there been any surprises during your Shakespeare Year project?
When I planned my reading schedule for the year, I made sure to start with a few comedies and sprinkle the rest of the comedies between the tragedies and histories. I thought they’d be easier to read for some reason and would provide a welcome relief after some of the more intense tragedies.
In reality, it’s been the other way around. I’m finding the tragedies much, much easier to read than the comedies. I guess the things we find funny change from generation to generation (let alone century to century!) but the things that break our hearts stay the same. Plus it’s harder to understand the comic timing and “quippiness” of the comedies when I’m just reading them on the page. Shakespeare’s plays were not meant to be read like novels, and that’s especially clear when reading the farcical comedies like Love’s Labour’s Lost.
Oh, and reading Romeo and Juliet at 17 and re-reading it at 37 is like reading two completely different plays. I loved that play so much I would dream about it at night when I was 17. I couldn’t imagine anything more romantic. Now I just want to tell the little twerps to stop wasting everyone’s time and that they’re both grounded.
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