Thursday, September 15, 2016

McWhorter on Shakespeare: Should he be rewritten in modern English?

McWhorter has argued that Shakespeare's language is so difficult that it should be "adjusted" into modern English for modern readers and theatre-goers. I'm sympathetic. Yesterday I started watching the Zeferelli movie version of Hamlet, with Mel Gibson in the title role and Glenn Close as Gertrude, and at times the language just lost me. Here's a podcast where he discusses the subject with John Lynch.

Here's a post at The New Republic where McWhorter makes his case. I quoted passages from that post in an old post at The Valve and it generated a bit of discussion, including a comment from Kent Richmond, who has rendered five plays into modern English.


  1. My response, Added notes: Shakespeare as Ozymandias, here:

  2. Read a good annotated edition, like "The Arden" and then watch a good production. Shakespeare's language is so rich and multi layered,it defies modern "translation".

    1. That's sorta' the point, though. When you keep moving back and forth between the text and all those annotations, it utterly destroys the flow. You're just looking at the rich language, but you're not going with its flow. That's not reading, that's studying.