Monday 27 March 2023


 The death of reading or an opportunity?

Last week a University lecturer claimed she could no longer teach George Eliot’s Middlemarch as it was too long and troublesome for today’s undergraduates. This caused a bit of a stir with traditionalists, particularly the “disgusteds” of Tunbridge Wells who’ve been having nastily elevated blood pressure because of it.

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But she’s right. I’m doubtful if there’ll be degrees in English Literature much longer. How many people can cope with reading Shakespeare? On stage brilliant directors edit and reshape it and the best of our actors squeeze every drop of emotion from the remaining words. If you ever see the uncut Hamlet, which I was unlucky to do, you’ll realise how awful unedited Shakespeare can be. Yet there’s good news for today’s youth.

Chelsea Rowe has adapted a series of Shakespeare‘s plays: Hamlet, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for kids called Shakespeare in Shorts. Each retains the style and feel of the original language and has a total running time of 20 minutes.