Tag Archives: who was Shakespeare

How People Viewed Shakespeare in His Day Versus Today

I am finding as I post more and more thoughts on Shakespeare, and as a rule in general, people are very skeptical when it comes to reading or talking about Shakespeare. This, in truth, is a shame, and I find myself scratching my head and wondering if I am just bashing my head against a wall in wanting people to stretch into his plays and words. What am I missing? Or is it that people are doing themselves an injustice in reading the first ‘thou’ or ‘whence’, shaking their head in intimidation and shutting the book?

Curiouser and curiouser, I find.

I started doing some research on what people of Shakespeare’s generation thought about him, and while I do acknowledge that his generation already used (to a certain extent) his wordage and they were familiar with the Elizabethan stage, I started wondering about the ordinary person; or what about later generations who read his plays? What did they think?

Here is what I came across in Craig’s editorial: “A powerful impulse came to the study and appreciation of Shakespeare with the generation who lived during the epoch of the French Revolution. A new Shakespeare criticism was part of that revival of art and letters which we ordinarily call the Romantic Movement. The thinkers of that day were interested in a wider variety of ideas about life than were the pseudo-classicists. They found in Shakespeare such a marvelously significant and consistent picture of life that they came to think of him as endowed with the insight of a seer and the power of a poet, as greater and more significant than life itself. Each of his plays became a microcosm capable of yielding to the student, if he came with love and admiration in his heart, finer truth than science could yield. Science, they argued, bounds itself by fact; poetry has no such limits, but is a mode of revelation of the philosophy of life, presenting in concrete and constructive form what life means and what life might be. Shakespeare, the poet, was thus metamorphosed into a philosopher and teacher so that his works became a hunting ground where one might find the greatest thoughts about existence.”

Wow! What a boost into immortality for this small town actor and writer from Stratford-upon-Avon!!

But what about today? Where is this thinking on Shakespeare in the ordinary modern world of today? Will a movie need to be made, will a game for the new gaming system need to be created, will an app for our cell phones have to be developed to reach the millions of modern tech seekers in this generation for Shakespeare to find a voice in this world of microchip and internet flood? Will his ancient words and his creation of the 17th-century human even make a ripple in this ocean?

My hopeful heart says yes, that somehow his plays still matter and his works will continue to be a hunting ground where one might find the greatest thoughts about existence. Craig continues later saying, “Human nature remains the same from age to age,” so we must continue to see Shakespeare, the poet, as that philosopher and teacher for this modern generation for when we read his plays, we see ourselves. We are Hamlet in his cowardice, in his pain; We are Iago in our jealousy and hate; We are Juliet in our teenage rebelliousness and first love; We are Prince Harry in his stirring ambition and victory, and on and on and on…

These are my thoughts for today about the man, the genius and the poet. I would love to hear your thoughts on how his works influence you or how one might encourage this modern generation to delve into his words…. please comment below!

Thanks for reading!

D. K. Marley

The Mind of a Master Discussing a Master

I decided to do some research on the editor of my grandmother’s college book “The Complete Works of Shakespeare”, and get an idea of the man behind the research done in the preface and introductory analysis of each play, and I have to say, I am astounded.

Wikipedia describes him as the foremost authority on Shakespeare and Milton of his time.

Here is the Wikipedia description of him: Hardin Craig (29 June 1875 – 13 October 1968) was an American Renaissance scholar and professor of English. In his 65-year academic career, he served on the faculties of eight different colleges and universities, published more than 20 books as either author or editor, and was one of the few Americans to be elected to the Royal Society of Literature in Britain.

I thought how interesting it would be to continue posting direct quotes of his from the book while adding my own annotations in parentheses since it seems my blog is becoming more and more Shakespearean by the day. Or at least it is starting that way since I have the intention of delving more into Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, as well as some of my other favorite authors: C. S. Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ken Follett, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Rosalind Miles, Daphne Du Maurier, The Bronte Sisters, and Jane Austen.

Shakespeare seems to be a good start to this blog, so I hope you enjoy the journey through Shakespeare, to feel the intensity my own heart feels for the plays and the passion that the words of the Bard can portray in these modern times.

(I love these words of Craig’s): “One does not approach Shakespeare as one approaches authors less well known, authors to whom the track has been opened mainly by historical scholars. The road to Shakespeare is a well-traveled highway. Every modern person who has any pretense to culture knows something about Shakespeare and considers himself in some sense an authority in the interpretation of such characters as Hamlet and Shylock, and usually has a firm rooted opinion that Shakespeare was a self-made man with a proclivity for deer-stealing. To ask a person if he knows anything about Shakespeare is to ask him if he belongs to a respectable family and has had any care in his upbringing. No author ingrained in popular thought as Shakespeare is, no author whose words are proverbs for daily use, can be properly studied without some attention to such questions as how he got into print and how his fame grew and thrived through the centuries.”

(Ah, so true…. opinions about Shakespeare are as common as the noses on people’s faces… and those of wanting to debate whether or not he indeed wrote the plays is becoming more and more common. There was a time when I believed he did not write the plays, but as the time passes, I have come to realize that my belief came simply from my in-depth research into my own novel “Blood and Ink” which delves into the possibility of Marlowe being the actual writer of the plays of the First Folio. When Craig says ‘Every modern person who has any pretense to culture knows something about Shakespeare and considers himself in some sense an authority in the interpretation of such characters as Hamlet and Shylock, and usually has a firm rooted opinion that Shakespeare was a self-made man with a proclivity for deer stealing,’ a smile came to my face. There is such a sacredness for those of us who love Shakespeare, especially those of us passionate about the man and the works, and after immersing into learning the beauty of his words and genius, we indeed feel like we have a firm rooted opinion and consider ourselves in some sense an authority in the interpretation of much of his characters and words.

But, in reality, none of us lived during the 1600s. None of us have had the opportunity to interview the very man, so all the authority and opinions any of us feel like we have, they are indeed just opinion and our own interpretation of our idea of what he may have meant in certain passages, what provoked his thoughts to write quips or scenes or develop certain characters, and what in his background added to his ability to create the incredible blank verse we are so fortunate to have before our eyes in this 21st century.

I have found that as an author myself, experience adds much to writing. My thoughts as to Shakespeare’s experience sometimes wavers and tick-tocks back and forth like the movements of a cuckoo clock. Sometimes I believe, sometimes I don’t, that he is the actual writer. But again, I remind myself on a daily basis, I am just a historical fiction writer, not a historian. I am content to remain an avid Shakespearean geek and leave the philosophizing of his authorship, his education, and background to those who, in reality, cannot, and will not, ever truly know.

I am content to revel and relish his words, no matter if they are Shakespeare’s or not. They inspire me… they make me feel happy when the words filter across my tongue. I think Shakespeare would smile at this thought because after all, isn’t that what all of us as authors wish? To one day, five hundred years from now, for our characters and our words to dance through a stranger’s mind and still, after all those passing years, years after we have passed off this mortal coil, for them to inspire another soul and to bring happiness to another human being. That is what Shakespeare is to me.)

Thanks for reading!

D. K. Marley