Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare. I was an English major – way back when – and I have always celebrated The Bard’s birthday in one way or another. Today – he gets a blog post! One of favorite English professors, Dr. Leonard Albert at Hunter College, used to remind us that “Shakespeare was a true genius. He was born and he died on the same day!”
I usually read passages from Hamlet, The Tempest or MacBeth or from his sonnets and I honor the man whose work has been questioned as his own recently. I still think his words are his words and I will continue to be in awe of how he changed the English language forever. He painted with words and very few writers have come close to the mastery that I believe is his alone.
In the summer of 2001, my future husband and I went to France and while we were in Paris I just had to go to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. The original and very famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore (the store today is the second incarnation) was started by Sylvia Beach, an ex-patriate from New Jersey. It was frequented by Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce, among others. It was a bookstore and a lending library as well and it was here that you could borrow the banned Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence. Ms. Beach was also famous as the publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses – one of the world’s most famous banned books.
The interior of the bookstore is something to behold. Books are all over the place (see the picture below) – piled up in stacks and stacks and it’s amazing to think that people actually find things that they are looking for here. But the store is a wonderful tribute to the love of books, which I’m sad to say has been waning in this ipad and e-reader age.
So, Happy Birthday Will. May your words live on…and may printed books continue to be published and continue to fascinate and inspire us.