Originally Posted by Roy Tucker
When I started my list, I automatically started with Shakespeare. Best writer ever, bar none.
But after some semantic soul searching, I couldn't really say his plays are my favorite *books*. So I took them off. To thine own self be true, I supose.
The traditional view of Shakespeare (and one I wholeheartedly support on one level) is that his work is meant to be performed and witnessed, not read. It's not literature; it's drama. I agonize over kids in school who read Shakespeare plays and never get the chance to see them performed. They will not understand the way they are meant to. Throw in the language barrier on top of that, and it's no wonder a lot of kids are turned off by him. If Shakespeare is to be part of any curriculum, a requirement of that should be seeing his work performed. I would pass a law about that if I could.
On the other hand, studying Shakespeare on an academic level is breathtaking. You've got about four centuries of theory to work with, not to mention the most deeply human and in one sense simplistic collection of words ever written, and the amount of stuff that pops up in the text -- the amount of information sometimes contained in a single syllable
-- is mind-boggling. So that's why I list him within my books, even though I agree that it's not technically the case. Though I believe those plays must be living, in the end there's not a piece of writing I'd rather sit down and furrow my brow over than Shakespeare. It's a new world ever single time, but it always leads back to my own.