This blog is designed for Shakespeare scholars and non-scholars, enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. Let me explain…
The first thing would be to define my name. Look back with me, Reader, to Exodus 20:4-5, Commandment Number 2: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.
Rightfully very high up on the list considering that during Moses’s first attempt to deliver a set of rules to bind his newly-free people, they took to worshipping a golden calf. Now, at the risk of sounding iconoclastic of the most remembered faux-pas in history, we have taken, once again, to worshiping a graven image. This familiar sight is the Droeshout Engraving of Shakespeare, aka, the image on the title page of my personal bible, the First Folio. Compiled in 1623 by the last surviving members of Shakespeare’s acting troupe, the First Folio’s existence is our best guide to knowing what plays are genuinely Shakespeare’s. After reading most of them, I could tell that there was more to these works than entertainment. Shakespeare took the most critical and humorous look at the world around him, and wrote about it to entertain the English and fill his own pockets with enough money to buy him the title of Gentleman.
Did the man in this engraving know that his works were not only good enough to fill the seats of the Globe Theatre but were, as Ben Johnson famously said, not of an age, but for all time? That he would be the most recognized name in English literature and likely the only author who has been subject to more translations than the Harry Potter series? Who knows? What I do know is that he is the subject of my Bard-olatry.
I recently completed my MA in Shakespeare at Royal Holloway, University of London, and when I tell people that of my achievement, their reactions are split in two: the first group get nervous and say they haven’t read enough of Shakespeare’s work, but still speak of him with a mix of fear and reverence; the other group scoff at how boring they remember studying Shakespeare to be, and don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
Well, Reader, I am going to use this blog to explain exactly what the fuss is about. This Bard’s (a fancy word for poet, but used as a proper name when referring to Shakespeare) words of wisdom, turns of phrase, and character construction more sympathetic than the world had ever seen before, have provided me with a guide to life, a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing the world around me, and I want to share that world with you. Never assume that Shakespeare’s works are too lofty or archaic to understand. We’ll work through it together. I have never made the top scoring marks in my class, but if there were a mark for enthusiasm and passion, that’s where I would shine. So enter this blog with an open mind ready to learn, and I will try to open your eyes to the genius of this writer whom I love so much.