Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Sep 24, 2011

William Shakespeare's as I now him know...

Recently I was browsing through one old classic from my book shelf, printed in 1932 in London, by Strong & Redlich and a very interesting section on Shakespeare told me so much for the first time. 

Here it is :

“ …To be told that Shakespeare is the greatest writer who ever lived,and then to start upon a play which perhaps at first conveys nothing to us is a bewildering ( and quite unnecessary) experience. We have been led some how to expect that every sentence we read will be a sample of the best writing in the world - which is, of course, nonsense.  Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the virtue of whole of his work, the amazing sum total of it all, not because every line is perfect. Often he reaches heights which are beyond the reach of all others. Often and often he reaches heights which others could reach only now and then.

But when all is said and done, he is the king of writers, because no other has so wide a range, or understood so much: and because his work is not a haphazard total of all the things he ever wrote, but a complete thing in itself: a single huge poem, developed, natural and finished. Shakespeare ( did not go on writing till the day of his death, though he died in early middle age (52 years to be precise) . He had definitely retired ( at the age of 47) , and ceased to write, because he knew consciously or instinctively, that his work was finished...... 

By 1597 (when he was 33) he had made enough money to buy the biggest house in his town (Stratford)......

In those days, a play had a very short run, and there was a continual demand to keep the actors busy. Far more  of Shakespeare's work consisted of revising old plays than was at first realized: but the revision, from being at first the adding of a scene here and a few lines there, developed into a complete re-writing, and the transformation of an old plot into an original work of art. We know, for instance, that there was an earlier version of  Hamlet:  but that does not in any way detract from the greatness of Shakespeare's achievement. he did not care where he got his plot. A plot , for him, was the stimulus that set his mind working. He turned the plot over in his mind, altered it, re-considered it, joined it may be to another, and produced from the mixture something new and splendid. He took a historical subject from North's  translation of Plutarch or from Holinshead's chronicles, altering and condensing freely to bring out character, provide dramatic effect, and make a play.... 

Shakespeare is the universal writer. His friend Ben Jonson truly said of him that ' he writ not for an age but for all time'. For all time, for all nations: yet he was careless of his manuscripts, and the first collected edition of his plays was not published till seven years after his death.... Centuries hence, when all our story belongs to history, to have produced Shakespeare may well be judged the greatest achievement of the English race" 


  1. I really Looooooooooove your blog!
    I don't speak Englisk.I speak Portuguese,but I LOVE SHAKESPEARE.
    I read all your books and poems.

  2. Meu Amigo, Você é muito bem-vindos!


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