William Shakespeare - The Best Ever?
In a book on William Shakespeare, I read something along the lines:
William Shakespeare is the best writer in the history of the English language - Ever. Some may waffle and write and then say "one of the best" ... and so it goes on.
Your comments on this please. Do you think that William Shakespeare is the best ever?
I think the fact his writing can be somewhat hard to decipher today somewhat limits his appeal to today's audience.
No way. Chaucer was far superior.
Surely Geoffrey Chaucer's (1340-1400) English was infinitely more difficult for the modern day reader to follow than that of William Shakespeare (1564-1616)? The two centuries separating these two great luminaries of Literature saw huge changes in the on going development of the English Language in this country.
I really don't think you can compare Geoff and Will when it comes to the written word in English. If you asked the average person with any degree of knowledge of the works of these two men to name any titles most people would stop short after Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", trying hard to remember some of the others, but reel off with great ease an endless list of titles relating to the Bard of Avon's works.
Both had great narrative and poetic skill, and an enormous insight into the human condition (which never changes no matter what the period of time you live in or where you live on this planet) but I'm pretty sure everyone breathing and above the age of kindergarten has heard of William Shakespeare, but poor old Geoffrey Chaucer may well mean nothing at all to many other people.
<<Surely Geoffrey Chaucer's (1340-1400) English was infinitely more difficult for the modern day reader to follow than that of William Shakespeare (1564-1616)?>>
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, Chaucer's wrote in Middle English, which is basically a slightly different language. On the other, Chaucer's language is actually a good deal more simple than Shakespeare's, so that a direct translation or even a well-annotated text is more 'decipherable' in my opinion than Shakespeare.
<<I think the fact his writing can be somewhat hard to decipher today somewhat limits his appeal to today's audience.>>
I mean, if you're lazy, he is. He's somebody who needs to be studied, not simply breezed through like a Danielle Steele novel. Annotated versions of his texts make his stuff pretty accessible.
I would also point out that many modern writers (Joyce, cumming, early Faulkner) are actually more indecipherable than he is.
Shakespeare's writing is hard to decipher for modern audiences because it's poetic, not because it's archaic -- people who complain about it would have just as much trouble with modern poetry. Language education simply isn't what it used to be.
(Granted, sometimes there are references you won't get, but that's what annotations are for. I don't think many students are that put off by the grammatical structures or vocabulary he used.)
No no no. The best writer in the history of the English language is Jackie Collins.
For sheer relaxation and thrills and enjoyment I like curling up in bed with Ian Rankin. His Inspector Rebus is one of my local superheroes, the most unusual of any Edinburgh police officer.....absolutely no problems of comprehension as we are on the same wavelength.
But Shakespeare is also enjoyable...more challenging, and we all need a challenge, but now I really do prefer to see Shakespeare performed on a stage rather than to read him.
I repeat - William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, is the greatest playwright the world has ever seen, or ever will until the end of time. He is immortal. To me Stratford-upon-Avon will always be some kind of shrine.
<<or ever will until the end of time. >>
My play will be published in November. I hope you will read it and revise your prediction...
Yes, he is. However, it is a matter of opinion, so this question is unanswerable. It's like 'Is Spanish better than French' (bad example, they'll start arguing again!). Opinion only - but in my opinion, yes he is.