Articles like this make me sad. I don’t know the celebrity in question – Carol Vorderman? – but apparently she made a bit of a spectacle of herself on a television quiz show by missing a Shakespeare question and proclaiming him “dull as ditchwater.”
The points are all the same – what came first, his greatness or our worship of him? Is it all self-fulfilling? And blah and blah and Harold Bloom and so on. “The best Shakespeare is the Shakespeare we understand best,” the author writes. I like that line.
Couple of interesting points, though, cheered me up:
* The author noting that to decide for yourself whether Shakespeare is in fact dull, ideally you would have to know the plays in the first place. Good point indeed, since this woman (the one on the tv show) failed her question. Does that mean that she’s proclaiming Shakespeare dull from the position of someone who’s actually read him? Or someone who has not?
* “Toby Belch, as the name indicates, really is a pig; Shakespeare could as well have called him Fart.” I love that the article’s not afraid to go there. :)
* “In my department, I’m happy to say, you won’t graduate unless you know all 39 well enough to take a six-hour exam on them.” That could be fun. Not sure I’d pass, but it’d be cool to live the life where I actually had an opportunity to try it.
* “400 years on, no one will be watching reruns of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire…but will they still be performing and studying Shakespeare? Nothing is more certain.”
There’s also a pretty good Shakespeare test at the bottom, that I’m happy to report I got an average score (27 out of 55) on, just off the top of my head. It’s somewhat unfair to we U.S.-bound (this being a UK article), as the final question is about modern English politics.