For the average person born and brewed in everyday contemporary English, reading Shakespeare is no walk in the park. Despite his essentially one-name status reflecting a worldwide reputation as a playwright and poet barely this side of a god, Shakespeare goes either under- or unread by the vast majority of people largely because of his arcane, at-first-glance impenetrable prose, which can be a challenge for even the most learned readers.
The Irish critic Fintan O’Toole captured this truth with his usual panache in his slim-but-packed 2002 volume, “Shakespeare Is Hard, But So Is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearean Tragedy.”
Recapitulating his “Shakespeare Is Hard…” title in the text, O’Toole goes on to add “So long as you can see that there is a lot of life in Shakespeare, then the effort begins to make sense.”
Castle hallways are long, empty, and mournfully shadowed, every inch lifeless gray mortar, th...