Saturday, March 24, 2007

Who was the real William Shakespeare?

I had a real bad experience with Shakespeare in High School. Apart from seeing the Olivia Hussey film version of Romeo and Juliet, the one and only Shakespeare play I studied during 3 years of English classes was Macbeth. At the same time, I also had a very boring History teacher as well. All she ever did was to hand out purple inked (mimeographed) lists of dates and events and told us to memorise them for the exams. So by the time I left HS, I hated Macbeth, I hated History and I hated Shakespeare. That was over 20 years ago.

I have since discovered the wonders of History. Especially the glorious History of the Elizabethan Golden era, and now I read anything I can, about the people of that era. Which is why I'm happy to read about Shakespeare and Marlowe, but I'm still somewhat reluctant to read the actual plays.

I have of course seen a few Shakespeare plays done as movies over the last 20 years. Movies such as Clair Danes & Leonardo's version of Romeo and Juliet, Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington and Emma Thompson in Much Ado about Nothing. And both recent versions of Hamlet - the long one and the short one. Being a visually oriented person, I much prefer the movies to the written script. The visuals and context make it much easier to understand the script.

Without planning to do so, I have recently acquired 3 books about the mysterious identity of William Shakespeare.

A novel called Chasing Shakespeares by Sarah Smith (2003 trade paperback)
A First Edition of Players by Bertram Fields ( 2005 Regan Books)
and the new large Hardback I just picked up for $7
"Shakespeare" by Another Name by Mark Anderson (2005 Gotham Books)

I think I will start collecting books about Shakespeares authorship. And maybe write a bibliography of books supporting and questioning Shakespeares qualifications as a playwright. It's an intriguing subject, and I love mysteries. Especially since I don't remember hearing anything about this controversy back in High School. Do they teach the students these days that Shakespeare may not be who everyone thinks he was? That he may possibly not be the real author? I doubt it. That would be thinking "outside of the box". And schools are not designed for that type of education.

Oh yeah, and I finished reading Sarah's blog today. Ironically, I just found her blog this week, and already she is closing up shop. Today was her last blog entry - she called it her "swan song". Whether or not she comes back to blogging, even she doesn't know. I really enjoyed reading about her book shop over the last 2 years. Good luck Sarah with whatever your next venture may be.

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