Sunday, April 23, 2017


William Shakespeare , the English poet and playwright , whose 401st death anniversary falls today occupies a special place in English Literature and being the most quoted poet and writer, holds sway in the English speaking world. Studying in a school, where I did , we had hardly 2-3 poems of Shakespeare in our syllabus , with Tennyson , R.W. Emerson. H.W.Longfellow gaining more importance and being more popular. We , as post graduate English Literature students in the early ‘70s had an entire paper devoted to William Shakespeare – seven plays and a few sonnets. Four plays - King Lear, Hamlet, Richard II , and The Winter’s Tale , if I remember correctly were for detailed study , meaning that passages were to figure in the examination paper for explanation with reference to the context. Though never a serious student , I made it a point that I should be able to mention the Act as well as the Scene while writing the answer. To ensure this, I devoted one day each for a play going through line by line, word by word. Just a fad nothing more !

I wrote the paper and as expected was able to mention the Act and the Scene and felt very happy about it. Second thing that went around was that the critic A.C. Bradley was indispensable while reading Shakespearean Tragedies . He had authored a book covering in detail Four plays – King Lear Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth – the first two being in our syllabus. A joke was told that Shakespeare himself had failed in ‘His’ paper as he had not read A.C.Bradley. Any how I did pass the paper, with or without Bradley and scored a ‘respectable’ 53, regrettably not getting due credit for being able to mention the Act as well as the Scene , as I have said above.
All said Shakespeare remains my favourite , even today , more than forty years down the line.
Humble tributes !

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