Nyx Book Reviews

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Reading Classics: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

I read this book as part of the Classics Club Challenge – I challenged myself to read fifty classics picked by me in the next three years. To find out more, you can see my list or visit the Classics Club website.

Title: Hamlet
Author: William Shakespeare
First Publication: 1890

Project Gutenberg Hamlet (free download)
The Book Depository (€1.58 / $2.13 + free shipping)

Whew, old English people talk weird!

The only Shakespeare play I know is Romeo and Juliet, which I listened to as audio-play (is that a thing?). I missed a lot of what was going on in that one, but since it was people talking I didn’t rewind to try to understand it better. When reading Hamlet as a book, I noticed I don’t understand a thing this guy is saying.


I barely notice that I’m a non-native English speaker when I read normal books. I’m at that stage where you just understand the words instead of translating them to your own language in your head, and I read English as fast as I do Dutch. For me it seems that Shakespeare doesn’t speak English at all at times. I understand the words – but in the sentences he makes they just don’t make sense at all. I was constantly rereading parts to no avail. I understood what was happening and the general story, but once a character started a monologue I was completely lost.

I did enjoy the parts that I did understand. A girl that completely loses her mind, an incestuous marriage, emo dude that sees ghosts, what’s not to like? People drop like flies in Hamlet, which I found amusing.

I’ll try to watch the play – maybe that will help me understand it better. As for now, I feel a bit lost.

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