The British actress, Dame Judy Dench, once said “a bad experience of Shakespeare is like a bad oyster – it puts you off for life.”
This, it appears, is the case for me.
Before you all start screaming, “Philistine,” I would like to put on record, Shakespeare is probably the greatest and most influential writer to have graced this planet. The fact his work, 400 years on, is still widely read and performed is testament to his greatness but, despite many hours of reading and studying his work, I can’t warm to him.
At school, lessons involving Shakespeare were torturous-the seagulls on the sports hall roof providing better entertainment. The long-suffering Mrs. Davy D, a huge fan of the Bard, has dragged me twice to see performances of Twelfth Night; to no avail the Shakespearian block just won’t lift.
As a child, my early writing influences centred around the work of Edward Lear, Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan. In teenage years, I had progressed to the more serious work of Dr. John Cooper Clarke and Pam Eyres. The onset of a more mature age has taken me to Charles Bukowski, Philip Larkin and a myriad of other writers with a dark slant on life, but still no room for Old Will.
What is it then that determines the kind of writing we read, enjoy and write?
Is it our upbringing, our early influences, our cultures?
Is it our education, the people we work with, our social groups?
I would be interested in hearing people’s views as I am in a dilemma. A teacher once told me “if you can’t love Shakespeare, then you can’t love writing.”
The stage is yours. Let the throwing of rotting fruit and vegetables commence.
2 thoughts on “Is Shakespeare Overrated?”
A very witty piece of writing (and honest). Your questions do make the mind think harder. But thinking harder doesn’t always lead to concrete conclusions. I think each one of us has our own inherent likes and dislikes. I don’t like papaya or romance novels. Nothing wrong with either, but I can’t warm up to them no matter how hard I try. It’s alright, Davy. Shakespeare probably faced this dilemma too (in some way or the other) 🙂
Thank you, Terveen. I am left wondering who Shakespeare would not have warmed too and the thought of him sat pondering has put a smile on my face. I am in total agreement about the romance novels. Not so sure about Papaya. We don’t tend to get it much here 😎