Sunday, January 27, 2008

Shakespeare's Influence

Shakespeare also invented many of the most-used expressions in our language. Bernard Levin skillfully summarizes Shakespeare's impact in the following passage from The Story of English:

If you cannot understand my argument, and declare "It's Greek to me", you are quoting Shakespeare;

if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare;

if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare;

if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare;

if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise - why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare;

if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare;

even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I were dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut, tut! for goodness' sake! what the dickens! but me no buts - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.

(Bernard Levin. From The Story of English. Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil. Viking: 1986).

The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original. At the below SOURCE is a chart listing some of the words Shakespeare coined, hyperlinked to the play and scene from which it comes. When the word appears in multiple plays, the link will take you to the play in which it first appears.


If you are looking for more words invented by Shakespeare be sure to read the wonderful book Coined By Shakespeare by Jeffrey McQuain and Stanley Mallessone. Each entry in the book comes with a history of the word.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My First Book for the Challenge

I've finished my first book for the challenge and put the review on my blog. It wasn't on my list - I stumbled across it on the New Books shelf at the library. Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell is a murder mystery linked to the possible discovery of a work by Shakespeare that was rumored to exist but had been lost. The concept was intriguing, the execution less than satisfying to me.

I'm half way through Will in the World, How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare and I've found it more interesting and a better read.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lots of Laughs

My review of The Taming of the Shrew is up at my blog, Educating Petunia.

Of course, the humor of the play is undeniable. The lesson that goes along with it is eloquently put at the end by Katherine, whether you agree with what she says or not. I had a great time with it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008

44 Fascinating Things about Shakespeare

There's this blogger who recently finished reading 592 pages of Shakespeare the Autobiography by Peter Ackroyd. Never mind that there is NOT 592 pages worth of documentary evidence for Shakespeare's life, Peter Ackroyd certainly does well to make the attempt.

Now I haven't read this biography yet, but in the meantime, this fellow I mentioned, has just finished reading it, and he has listed 44 Fascinating things about Shakespeare that he didn't know. It might be possible that you don't know them either.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The challenge begins!

The Chicago Public Library recently started offering on-line downloads of audio books, and I came across Shakespeare's Greatest Hits Volume I. There are four plays: Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, MacBeth, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Unfortunately, after years of literature study, the idea of parking myself on the couch with a volume of plays is tragically uninteresting to me. But listening to the plays while ironing and doing the other mundane household tasks has been fun. Plays were meant to be enacted, so naturally, it is far more interesting to listen to actors read them. The plays are abridged, but I think this volume, authored?/edited?/directed? by Bruce Coville, loses nothing. I recommend these as a supplement to anyone's Shakespeare readings.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Pamela's Shakespeare List

Pamela's Shakespeare list
Pamela - If you check your dashboard, you will see that you can actually post to the Shakespeare blog directly just like your own blog (thats because you are a member).

Therefore you can link directly from this blog back to your original post where you list your books. I've done this one for you, but when you finished reading the books, you might want to post your own reviews.

Shakespeare Challenge now STARTED

A Reminder that the SHAKESPEARE Challenge has now started. It runs from today until June 31st. You need to read 4 (four) books about Shakespeare. This can include the plays and the sonnets.