Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy birthday, Will in the World*

Once again, my favorite morning pick-me-up is the Writer's Almanac, wherein quotidian anniversaries are noted.

So, from today's entry, I am reminded that today is the accepted date of William Shakespeare's birthday.

Out of curiosity, I ran a quick search of previous blogs I have written (there are some 671, but who's counting?), there are 19 ... now 20 ...which deal with or mention William Shakespeare.  While there are certainly other subjects that I have written about as frequently, writing about Shakespeare ranks near the top of my preferred topics.  Not surprising, of course, for someone who was an English major (that would be me) nor for someone who was perhaps the greatest writer in the English language (that would be Shakespeare).

Here's a measure of his impact, as the Writer's Almanac reported it:

Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and a couple of epic narrative poems. He created some of the most unforgettable characters ever written for the stage, and was a master of the language of various social classes. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, he coined 3,000 new words, and he has contributed more phrases and sayings to the English language than any other individual. Shakespeare gave us such commonly used phrases as "a fool's paradise," "dead as a doornail," "Greek to me," "come what may," "eaten out of house and home," "forever and a day," "heart's content," "love is blind," "night owl," "wild goose chase," and "into thin air."

So, happy birthday, Will.  Thank you for adding infinitely to the richness of our understanding of human nature, for adding so much to the English language, for giving us phrases we use every day without ever thinking who penned them in the first place.

*For an excellent accounting of the making of Shakespeare, read Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, by Stephen Greenblatt


Anvilcloud said...

It's amazing when you think of his contribution.

Peruby said...

I was just using the phrase "a rose by any other name" the other day and just'googled' it - yep. Shakespeare.