Monday, 9 December 2013

Quotes About Shakespeare | Famous Thoughts on The Bard

Shakespeare is quoted often, but
what do others have to say about him?
I quite realise that there are people in the world who don't like Shakespeare. In fact, those of us who love him are, although I find it hard to stomach, in the minority. I've known several people; friends, co-workers and relatives, who dislike him for one reason or another: predominantly, because they don't 'get' it. 

My question to these people is always the same: how can so many people be so wrong? He's gone through peaks and troughs of popularity, but he is one of only a few playwrights from his era, whose work has 'survived' until the 21st century. He's by far the most famous playwright of his era - arguably the most famous playwright of ANY era.

This is only possible because he has been appreciated and much-loved throughout the centuries. And he's had some pretty famous fans.

So, here are just a few thoughts on Shakespeare...

"I have good reason to be content, for thank God I can read and perhaps understand Shakespeare to his depths." - John Keats (1795-1821), English Romantic poet.


"When I read Shakespeare I am struck with wonder that such trivial people should muse and thunder in such lovely language." - D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), English author most famous for the infamous Lady Chatterley's Lover, which puts E. L. James to shame.


"Oh, how Shakespeare would have loved cinema!" - Derek Jarman (1942-1994), Stage and film director.


Mary Shelley was a fan of
Shakespeare

"I also became a poet, and for one year lived in a Paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated." - Mary Shelley (1797-1851), from Frankenstein.


"Think of Shakespeare and Melville and you think of thunder, lightning, wind. They all knew the joy of creating in large or small forms, on unlimited or restricted canvases. These are the children of the gods." - Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), American author most famous for Fahrenheit 451.


"Lips that Shakespeare taught to speak have whispered their secret in my ear. I have had the arms of Rosalind around me, and kissed Juliet on the mouth." - Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), from The Picture of Dorian Gray.


"I have always derived great comfort from William Shakespeare. After a depressing visit to the mirror or an unkind word from a girlfriend or an incredulous stare in the street, I say to myself: 'Well. Shakespeare looked like shit.' It works wonders." - Martin Amis (1949- ), from Money.


(a little harsh perhaps, but the portraits we have of Shakespeare don't offer the image of an Adonis.)

Shakespeare, looking like sh*t, according to Martin Amis' Money

"Why can’t you remember your Shakespeare and forget the third-raters. You’ll find what you’re trying to say in him- as you’ll find everything else worth saying." - Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953), from Long Days Journey into Night.


"It is difficult to restrain admirers of Shakespeare once they have begun to speak of him." - Karen Blixen (1885-1962), Danish author, who wrote under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen.


"Shakespeare, in some sense, helped create the modern man, didn't he, his influence is that pervasive. He held the mirror up to nature, but he also created that mirror: so the image he created is the very one we hold ourselves up to." - Jess Winfield (1962- ), American author and TV writer.


George Orwell said the worth of a writer
should be in the longevity of his work -
bodes well for Bill Shakespeare

"In reality there is no kind of evidence or argument by which one can show that Shakespeare, or any other writer, is 'good'. Nor is there any way of definitely proving that--for instance--Warwick Beeping is 'bad'. Ultimately there is no test of literary merit except survival, which is itself an index to majority opinion." - George Orwell (1903-1950), English author, journalist and critic.


"To become intimate with Shakespeare...is a great enrichment of mind and instruction of conscience." - Charlotte Mason (1842-1923), British educator.


"A few people have ventured to imitate Shakespeare's tragedy. But no audacious spirit has dreamed or dared to imitate Shakespeare's comedy...We can all get into his mere tragedy; we can all explore his dungeon and penetrate into his coal-cellar, but we stretch our hands and crane our necks in vain towards that height where the tall turrets of his levity are tossed towards the sky." - G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), British writer and lay theologian.


"No one yet has managed to be post-Shakespearean." - Harold Bloom (1930- ), American literary critic and professor.


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For more on Shakespeare, check out What's It All About, Shakespeare An Introduction to The Bard of Avon, and if you know of any other great quotes about Shakespeare, why not share them in the comments below.

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