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William Shakespeare’s birthday

William Shakespeare was born 440 years ago today, on April 23, 1564.

If Shakespeare were alive today, he’d be a really old dude driving 20 mph on the freeway and clogging up the Old Country Buffet. But that’s not important.

Back in the Y2K runup, George Will among others picked Shakespeare as Man of the Millenium. Hard to pick just one person, but he’d be a good candidate. His work has furthered the human race as much as anyone’s. His insights into human nature, his stylistic and structural advances in playwriting, and his pure skill in slinging the English language remain unsurpassed.

His work has, for one thing, been the basis of more movies than anyone else, in all likelihood. Personally, I particularly enjoy the Liz and Dick version of Taming of the Shrew.

By the way, anyone wanting to study Shakespeare should DEFINITELY get Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare. Keep it right there while you’re reading. He gave a lot of very useful scene-by-scene explanations of just the kind of historical and literary references that will be obscure and off putting to readers several centuries later.

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  • Rodney Welch

    Ugh. Everytime we discuss Shakespeare in my book club, one guy drags in old Asimov to “explain” everything — and I always have to say “Look, it’s Isaac Asimov, author of 300 or books. He didn’t write because he new anything. He wrote because he couldn’t stop himself.”

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    Jerry Lee Lewis,his own bad self,played
    Iago in a musical adaptation of Othello
    entitled “Catch My Soul” back in the
    mid 1960′s.It was produced by Jack Good
    of “Shindig” fame.

    By all accounts,Jerry Lee got fantastic
    reviews.This seemed like it might be up
    your alley,Al.Personally,I found it to
    be interesting,if nothing else.

  • Al Barger

    RW- The point with Asimov isn’t that he had any big special insights to interpret Shakespeare. It’s just a lot of dry basic historical facts that Asimov knew or more likely had the research effort to back up, more than anything else.

    I’ve heard something in passing about the Jerry Lee Lewis Iago thing, but I haven’t seen an album or video. Maybe I ought to go hunting some more. It DOES sound like my kind of thing, don’t it?