English playwright and poet whose body of works is considered the greatest in English literature. His plays, many of which were performed at the Globe Theatre in London, include historical works, such as Richard II, comedies, including Much Ado about Nothing and As You Like It, and tragedies, such as Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. He also composed 154 sonnets. The earliest collected edition of his plays, the First Folio, contained 36 plays and was published posthumously (1623).
- Shakespear´ean or Shakespear´ian adjective & noun
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616, English dramatist and poet, considered the greatest of all playwrights; b. Stratford-upon-Avon. He was the son of a Stratford businessman and probably attended the local grammar school, acquiring a grounding in the classics. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway. They had three children. Little else is known of his life before 1592, when he appeared as a playwright in London. He may have been a member of a traveling theater group, and some evidence in his early style suggests he may have been a schoolmaster. In 1594 he became an actor and playwright for the Lord Chamberlain's Men (the King's Men under James I). It is thought that he played supporting roles, e.g., the Ghost in Hamlet. In 1599 he became a part owner of the Globe Theatre, and in 1608 of the Blackfriars Theatre. He retired to Stratford in 1613.
Shakespeare, William (The Plays)
The chronology of the plays is uncertain, but style and content analysis give a reasonable approximation of their order. They fall roughly into three periods. In the first are history plays, beginning with the three parts of Henry VI, and comedies. At this stage Shakespeare's historical tragedies (Titus Andronicus) lack depth of characterization and are somewhat bombastic. The comedies are essentially classical imitations, with strong elements of FARCE (The Comedy of Errors). The last play in this first period, Romeo and Juliet (c.1594), evidences Shakespeare's maturing talent. The versification is more complex, and rhythms reflect the speaker's state of mind, a technique he developed with increasing subtlety. In the second period, from Richard II (c.1595) through Twelfth Night (c.1599), Shakespeare produced histories and tragedies in which characterization and practical elements are successfully blended. In the COMEDIES of this period he moved away from farce toward idyllic ROMANCE (As You Like It). The third period, from 1600, saw the appearance of Shakespeare's major TRAGEDIES, beginning with Hamlet, and "problem plays." The tragedies, after Othello, present clear oppositions of order to chaos, and good to evil, on all levels. The style becomes increasingly compressed and symbolic. Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest are tragicomedies, with full tragic potential but a harmonious resolution through grace, a term with divine as well as artistic implications. Shakespeare has been criticized for failing to propound a philosophy, but the enduring appeal of his plays lies in his human vision, which recognizes the complexity of moral questions, and in the unparalleled richness of his language.
Shakespeare, William (Sources and Editions)
Eighteen of the plays appeared in print during Shakespeare's life, but the source for all except Pericles and Two Noble Kinsmen (of dubious authorship) is the First Folio of 1623. The plays were first published with act and scene divisions and stage directions by Nicholas ROWE (1709). Two major sources used by Shakespeare were Raphael HOLINSHED's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1577) for the English historical plays, and Sir Thomas North's translation (1579) of PLUTARCH's Lives. He altered many other source materials to suit his purposes.
Shakespeare, William (The
Shakespeare would be well known for his poetry alone. His first published works were the narratives Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). The love poem The Phoenix and the Turtle appeared in 1601. But his major achievement is the Sonnets (1609, written in the 1590s). In them Shakespeare exercises his talent for compressing meaning, fully realized in his later work. Addressed (numbers 1-126) to the unidentified "W.H." and (numbers 127-152) to the mysterious "dark lady," the SONNETS treat the themes of time, mutability, and death, and their transcendence through love and art.
"...life expectancy in Shakespeare's day was about
30 years. (That's why Shakespeare wrote of himself so often as aging
and declining in sonnets written when he was only in his early 30s.)
In England, 100 years ago, life expectancy was still less than 40 years
among members of the working class. It was 60 around the turn of
the century of this country. It is now 72. Even if Bjorksten,
Segall, Phedra, and the hundreds of other longevity researchers are overly
optimistic, even if we can raise lifespan only 50 per cent in this generation,
that still means that you will probably live at least 30 years past the
- Robert Anton Wilson - _The Illuminati Papers_ (1980)
Researchers are investigating whether the secret of the Bard's creativity was his dope-smoking, according to the Independent on Sunday newspaper.
Pipes found at Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon, central England, are being tested for traces of the drug, the paper said.
Dr Frances Thackeray, head of palaeontology at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, South Africa, believes there is evidence of Shakespeare's drug habit in his work, the paper said.
Thackeray points to the Bard's use of complex imagery of darkness and mental journeys as evidence of drug-induced visions, according to the Independent.
In a paper written for the Shakespearean Society of Southern Africa, he said: "There are very few literary scholars who have recognised the potential link between Shakespeare and hallucinogenic stimuli.
"A close reading of his sonnets and some other lines suggests that he was aware of them and may have experienced the effects himself."
He added: "This project has Stratford agog."
Thackeray and a colleague, Professor Nick van der Merwe, have asked Pretoria police laboratories to analyse the contents of several clay pipes retrieved from New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare lived until his death in 1616.
Cannabis was first cultivated
in England in 400 AD and in the 16th and 17th centuries was commonly used
to produce hemp for ships' ropes and canvas.
Like a Shakespearean play, this film's final dialogue is a rhyming couplet:
"Always two there are, no more, no less: a master and an apprentice."
"But which was destroyed? The master or the apprentice?"
Julius Moomer uses a black magic book to summon Shakespeare, who then writes a brilliant teleplay for TV. Moomer becomes a celebrity which angers Shakespeare. He watches a rehearsal of his script and is shocked by the changes made and leaves. Moomer is enlisted to write a two-and-half-hour television show on history. He thinks he's lost, until he remembers the black magic book, and enlists the aid of several characters from the past.
"Mr. Julius Moomer, a streetcar conductor with delusions of authorship. And if the tale just told seems a little tall, remember a thing called poetic license - and another thing called the Twilight Zone."
I asked the spirits to show me Shakespeare. They said, "okay" (they are not always so accomodating). He was a magical being of great size and power, made of energy. There were a million spirits in the form of fizzy colored lights dancing around him, like tiny Japanese lanterns or candleflames, helping him as he wrote, his pen scrawling across the quantum Void. James Joyce was there as well - he was like a little pendant resting on Shakespeare's desk. I recognized that part of the artist's spirit went directly into their creations. Their spiritual power depended on the earthbound public's continued desire for their work. That is the deeper meaning of the artist's quest for immortality.
- Daniel Pinchback - _Breaking Open The Head_ (online version)