Translator's foreword

Translator's foreword

The Norwegian original of this book is the first study I have read which has made me feel that Shakespeare is not difficult. However deceptive this experience may be, it is enjoyable. Most other expositions I have seen are extremely detailed, or focus on external features of Shakespeare's life, his theatrical productions in London, later stagings, or the history of the plays. As a non-literary person I appreciated Arild Haaland's book for dealing squarely with the
content of the plays, and for having a stimulating freshness which does not require the reader to be a literary gourmet. The book is indeed ‘Shakespeare for everybody’. It quickly awakened in me an interest in reading more of the plays themselves, which again resulted in a growing admiration for Shakespeare as well as in an added interest in Haaland's viewpoints.

It is my hope that other readers will experience something akin to what I did.

Making the translation has been a labour of pure pleasure, adding new perspectives with every point discussed with Haaland. Some not inconsiderable revisions of the Norwegian text have been the result. In this process Arild Haaland has been the most generous of authors and collaborators, going over everything which I felt was in need of clarification, but giving me an incredibly free hand in trying to render his thoughts in a new formulation. I have sincerely tried, all the same, to stop short of revising out of existence those of his views with which I disagree!

Arild Haaland's style is extremely personal and condensed — it can perhaps best be described as ‘lapidary’. I have judged it almost impossible to convey its details adequately and can only regret that something has certainly been lost in the translation. Some of the changes that have been made are expansions whose purpose is to try and compensate for this.

Richard Holton Pierce has been our invaluable adviser on points of language and their relation to content. It is difficult to thank him adequately.

In spite of revision and change, I sincerely hope the author will still recognise most of his own original and very stimulating reflections on Shakespeare and on life.

For the plays themselves I have principally relied on the 1986 edition by Wells and Taylor (Oxford, Clarendon Press).