Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Charles Dickens Project

It's Charles Dickens's 200th birthday on February 7, 2012, so I thought it would be great to finally read all his novels (I'm counting 20, including the Christmas novellas) front-to-back. This might take me ages, as I have other stuff to do (like learning for my final exams), but 2012 will certainly be a year full of Dickens, and I feel it's appropriate to celebrate this great Victorian writer by reading his works. The Guardian has already started its extensive coverage on all things Dickens, and I'm obviously not the first who's had the idea of reading all of Dickens's novels, as you can see in the Penguin blog, so I'm joining a bunch of Dickens lovers who take a first or another look into his masterful prose. I'll start with The Pickwick Papers again this week, and I will try writing down some of my thoughts on it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The most famous Shakespeare plays according to Wikipedia hits (September 2011)

I'm a statistics fan, so I like the tool stats.grok.se, as it allows you to have a look at the hits for certain Wikipedia pages. In preparation for my final exams in English literature, I've prepared a list of the most famous Shakespeare plays in September 2011, according to this tool. Here's the result:

1. Romeo and Juliet 158.350 hits

2. Hamlet 114.727

3. Macbeth 101.863

4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream 69.710

5. Othello 64.979

6. The Tempest 55.252

7. The Merchant of Venice 44.192

8. King Lear 42.328

9. Much Ado about Nothing 40.935

10. Twelfth Night 35.608

11. As You Like It 32.701

12. The Taming of the Shrew 30.449

13. Julius Caesar 28.072

14. Richard III 27.045

15. Titus Andronicus 22.140

16. Coriolanus 21.542

17. Antony and Cleopatra 17.276

18. Henry V 16.803

19. The Winter’s Tale 13.449

20. The Comedy of Errors 12.887

21. Cymbeline 12.421

22. All’s Well That Ends Well 10.832

23. Measure for Measure 9.441

24. Henry IV, Part 1 8.717

25. Love’s Labour’s Lost 7.651

26. The Two Gentlemen of Verona 6.944

27. Troilus and Cressida 6.919

28. The Merry Wives of Windsor 6.498

29. Richard II 6.468

30. Henry VIII 5.168

31. Timon of Athens 3.869

32. Henry VI, Part 1 3.646

33. Pericles, Prince of Tyre 3.184

34. Henry IV, Part 2 2.880

35. The Life and Death of King John 2.436

36. The Two Noble Kinsmen 2.351

37. Henry VI, Part 2 1.883

38. Henry VI, Part 3 1.860

(Hits on en.wikipedia.org)

There are no surprises, I think, as to the most popular Shakespeare play on Wikipedia. There may be discussions among Shakespeare fans and critics as to which play is the greatest one (King Lear and Hamlet are frontrunners in that category), but there's no denying that Romeo and Juliet is clearly the one that most people will connect with the name of Shakespeare. Furthermore, I found it interesting that the first three plays are those which are labeled as tragedies, while A Midsummer Night's Dream is the first so-called comedy on fourth position. The first history play is Richard III (#14).

The plays that I will prepare for my exams are the five most popular tragedies on here: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and King Lear. It was important for me to choose a topic for my final exams that is highly relevant, and I thought Shakespeare would be a good choice. I'm reading King Lear at the moment, and I'm fascinated by Shakespeare's characters and plotting. He was ahead of his time, you get this feeling all the time when reading him. Unfortunately, some of the students at my university don't really like Shakespeare, as it is sometimes hard work to get to the bottom of Shakespeare's language. But I see Shakespeare's language as a kind of riddle, and if you find the solution, there's always a reward.