Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pretty Orders Beginning

When I started contemplating this project, the order in which to read the works was the opening question. Several approaches came immediately to mind -- chronological, reverse chronological, tragedies-histories-comedies, chronological by setting, alphabetical, in order written, or even just randomly selected in some way. I did some poking around online, and came across a very thoughtful post at the excellent and comprehensive site The Shakespeare Standard suggesting an order for a new reader to tackle the plays. In essence, it suggests that the works be roughly divided into "earlier works" and "later works" and within those two buckets an order established that groups the plays thematically or, in the case of the histories, in the order of events. It suggests a new reader give herself a soft landing by starting with the most familiar plays, Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, but since those two are so familiar to me and I've read them recently, I'm going to use them to leaven that long slog through the histories. I may sprinkle the big poems and the sonnets around there too.

So here is the list. I am sure I will find reason to rejigger this from time to time, but at least I have a rough plan.

Much Ado About Nothing
Love's Labour's Lost 
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Comedy of Errors
The Taming of the Shrew
King John
Edward III (for kicks, I could stick Marlowe's Edward II before this)
Richard II
Henry IV, Part 1
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Henry IV, Part 2
Henry V
Henry VI
Richard III
Henry VIII
And before we exit that last run of 10 plays, we'll also do:
Romeo & Juliet
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The long poems
The sonnets
Titus Andronicus
The Merchant of Venice
Julius Caesar
Antony & Cleopatra
Twelfth Night
As You Like It
King Lear
All's Well That End's Well
Measure For Measure
Troilus & Cressida
The Two Noble Kinsmen
Timon of Athens
The Winter's Tale
The Tempest

And then I keel over.

* Today's title is brought to you courtesy of Measure for Measure, Act II, scene i.

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