If you have studied English, then right from school level, there has been one literary star who has definitely been with you.
He has been there talking to you through certain voices and characters that talked about life and all its human errors and faults. You have tried to understand him and often you did. But, he was there all right with you, right by your side carrying a collection of plays and poems.
History remembers him as that famous poet, playwright and actor William Shakespeare.
Today, April 23, the world celebrates the 400th death anniversary of the ‘Bard of Avon’ as Shakespeare has come to be known. In other words, its ‘Shakespeare Day’ today.
Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, Shakespeare went on to write 38 plays and 154 sonnets that have established his place among great names in English Literature. He left at the ripe age of 52 in 1616 after having written deeply engrossing, emotion-rich, soul-touching comedies and tragedies.
As part of the 400-year celebration, British Library is giving a chance to people to download on their smartphones rare first edition copies of 14 of William’s famous plays.
Pamphlets of Shakespeare’s plays were first printed in 1594. The public got those pamphlets and would attend his plays organised by Lord Chamberlain’s Men – the playing company Shakespeare was part of. Many of his plays were acted out in Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse in the London Borough of Southwark.
Interestingly, let me tell you that Britons, or citizens of Britain do not seem to be much in awe of their literary star. In a recent survey conducted in the country, it was found that 1 in 10 Briton is unable to recall Shakespeare and who he is !
Almost a quarter of the British population are unaware of what Shakespeare has done or his work. About 4 in 10 Britons believe that Shakespeare is not relevant today and his works not easy to understand or enjoy. Can you believe this?!
The survey also found that India and China have much higher appreciation for Shakespeare, than he is credited with at home in Britain.
Be that as it may, but the world at large, considers the man as a literary marvel. Google also celebrates William Shakespeare’s legacy with a nice Doodle today.
Let me give you another important fact here. The Guinness Book of Records says that 410 feature-length films and TV versions of William Shakespeare’s plays have been produced, making Shakespeare the most filmed author ever in any language.
As I remember, I started reading about Shakespeare and his plays in school and then at college level too. I also read some of his poetic sonnets. The words he uses have a lot of depth, meaning and life in them.
I don’t remember reading many of his plays, except for some summaries. Now, if I am so inclined, I might just start reading Shakespeare again in my non-baritone voice. 🙂
For a start, how about I start practicing these fine Shakespearean insults: 🙂
–> Thou art a boil, a plague sore (King Lear – Act II, Scene II)
–> Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon (Timon of Athens – Act IV, Scene III)
–> Poisonous bunch-backed toad! (Richard III – Act I, Scene III)
–> Away, you three-inch fool! (The Taming of the Shrew – Act III, Scene III)
–> Thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows (Troilus and Cressida – Act II, Scene I)
–> I’ll beat thee, but I would infect my hands (Timon of Athens – Act IV, Scene III)
–> I am sick when I do look on thee (A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Act II, Scene I)