Sunday, April 24, 2016

The 400th Anniversary of the Bard's Death

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I write about many entertainment–related topics. I have written about William Shakespeare — directly or indirectly — four times. This is the fifth.

I last wrote about Shakespeare around the 450th anniversary of his birth. I say "around" because the exact date of his birth is not known.

The date of his death is another matter. That was 400 years ago yesterday, and it prompted observances the world over.

One of the grandest celebrations was at Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford–upon–Avon, where more than 10,000 people attended a parade marking the occasion.

If you think that it is inappropriate to have a parade at Shakespeare's birthplace on the anniversary of his death, you are obviously unaware of something I have mentioned in this blog before. Shakespeare's actual birth date is unknown. It is only known that he was born in April 1564, but many people have speculated that he was born on April 23. If that is true, then the bard died on his birthday.

When I wrote about the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, the emphasis of my post was the many ways Shakespeare has influenced modern English. That continues to fascinate people in all kinds of ways. For example, on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, The Sun focused on the top insults from his plays.

You never know when a good 16th–century putdown is going to be called for.

If you happen to be in the Boston area, a more enlightening experience may be found at the Boston Public Library's exhibit of rare first and early editions and forgeries.

Chicago, it seems, would be the best place to satisfy a hunger for the bard. A yearlong festival in that city will feature "Shakespeare–themed menus from Chicago chefs,"

The best way to honor Shakespeare, it seems to me, would be to watch a Shakespearean play. A live performance would have been best, and Barack Obama marked the occasion suitably by visiting the famed Globe Theatre and observing Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy where it was almost certainly first performed before an audience.