HOT TOPIC: Shakespeare
Volume 1, Issue 12 - November 21, 2004

"As we approach this most American of holidays, let’s take a look at online resources on the most British of writers, one Mr. William Shakespeare. Born into a common lot in life, with no record of his having received a formal education, this literary genius completely ushered in the modern era of drama by referencing the classic forms of the genre, from the Greek chorus to the Italian comedia del arte. Likewise, his work in the sonnet form is a complete collection unto itself.
But how does an apparent commoner with little or no schooling come in contact with the west’s great literary traditions, let alone use them to transform literature from the dark ages to the definition of Renaissance enlightenment? Can human intellect and ability be so profound as to transcend one’s surroundings and achieve a place in literary history rivaled by no none?

There is considerable conjecture on this point. For example, one Christopher Marlowe, known for his homage to Queen Elizabeth The Fairie Queen, died in a bar fight… about the same time that Shakespeare’s work first began to emerge in history. “Is it possible,” some academicians have speculated, “that Marlowe actually staged his own death, knowing Shakespeare died in that fight, and wanting a new beginning for himself assumed good William’s identity?” A careful study of Marlowe’s and Shakespeare’s work does not completely rule out this possibility. And if not Marlowe, why not Lord Bacon or the Earl of Oxford? Speculation runs rampant even til today.

Beyond the romance of this playwright’s life and talents lies the sheer power of his work: his use of language, imagery, cadence and rhyme to create histories, comedies and tragedies that have set the bar for all other writers that have followed him. Whether your students are advanced placements honors or learning a trade with their hands, everyone’s life is enriched by experiencing these works. This week’s collection of resources includes great sites which cover all of these topics – even one site that translates these great works into contemporary English! But we all know, to truly immerse ourselves in Shakespeare’s genius you have to experience it in the original style, footnotes and all.

Here’s your digital dozen on William Shakespeare – have a great Thanksgiving! ….."


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