Dictionary Please?

United States
December 29, 2009 6:17pm CST
Hey all in MyLot land, Could anyone suggest a really good Shakespeare dictionary or guide? Anything that could help someone unfamiliar with his style. I've only read a few of his works and it took me much longer than necessary because I was staggering over each sentence. Any advice = helpful to me. :)
2 people like this
6 responses
@thea09 (18314)
• Greece
30 Dec 09
Hi, you just have to read it and then get used to the language. I'd recommend you start with one of the comedies to ease into it. A good start is Twelfth Night. You'll soon get the hang of it and realise that words like 'twas' are just old English for 'it was', 'thou' is you, the basic stuff. It's worth sticking with it and soon you'll be on to the solliquies and enjoying them.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Dec 09
Thank you very much for the tips - I'll try them!
• Spain
5 Jan 10
I'd second that, Thea. And another good starter play is 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Most people can understand that, and the humour is very obvious, even in Elizabethan English. The more you read, the more you enjoy.
@Sandra1952 (6051)
• Spain
5 Jan 10
'The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare' is a very interesting book in it's own right. There's a lot of information on characters, language and the Elizabethan theatre. It may also help if you print off a summary of the play before you read it, so you're at least familiar with the story. And rent or buy some of the plays on DVD. The words always make more sense when you see and hear them spoken.
• United States
6 Jan 10
That sounds perfect! :)
@jb78000 (15163)
30 Dec 09
as thea said you will get used to the slightly different language fairly quickly. what might be helpful is getting an edition of the next play you read that has plenty of footnotes - or look for simple guides that are for those studying the text at school level (some guides can become extremely complicated themselves).
• United States
30 Dec 09
And thank you, too! And I'll beware of the complex guides.
• United States
5 Jan 10
Are you reading a version of the play that has proper footnotes? Those can really help, the Penguin Books collection has footnotes that covers word usage and also helps discuss mythological and historical aspects. They also usually have introductions that discuss the importance of the work and even discusses the plot if that is an issue. But really the best way to get into the style and understand the work is to read it. Stopping and rereading bits until you get it is part of the process. If you read a few plays in a row is when you start getting the language down.
@leeloo (1492)
• Portugal
30 Dec 09
Like chubit says watching the plays live helps or film if that is the only option some of the best adaptations that I enjoy are by Kenneth Branagh, there are others some better some worse. What helped me were books that had the play in the traditional form on one page and a more contemporary form on the other just as a guideline, the thing is understanding the gist of the play does wonders. Online and at libraries there are dictionaries specifically suited to understanding his work, he is one of the most studied authors in English literature so I am certain you will find something that works for you. Good luck. Happy new year.
@kun2349 (23381)
• Singapore
30 Dec 09
THat's literature!! haha =D It's not something which is easy to understand.. hehe ^_^ Though i did learn abit of literature during my school days, but still, i din quite get the grasp of it.. It's too complicated even though the words might seem easy.. lol =D UNless one really has got the interest in it, if not, it will always be a touching story to us, without knowing the true meaning behind it ^_^