Ivor Brown, Shakespeare (The Reprint Society: London, 1951)
This was a real find, as I’m discovering, at £1 from a second-hand bookshop in North Wales.
Brown has a wonderful writing style, self-deprecating and witty, subtly acerbic at times. In this book he reminds me of an English (although to be precise he was born in Penang) version of Bill Bryson.
He freely admits that there is simply no need for yet another book on Shakespeare, but that it is a labour of love. I think I feel the same way.
And here’s one of the ways in which he expresses that love:
‘The Wonder [of Shakespeare], as we see it now, is simply this: that no writer of any land or age has ever had popularity and renown on such a colossal and astounding scale. There is no civilised, or even faintly civilised, nation which does not read, study, perform, salute (and actually enjoy) the works of William Shakespeare.’
And of course, he’s absolutely bang on. He even beats EL James and JK Rowling in this sense …
This, therefore, is a quotation for my students, and for students of Shakespeare everywhere. Given that Brown’s statement is true, and it patently is, you need to ask yourself why?
Why do so many people value and enjoy Shakespeare?
More specifically, you need to ask yourself a second question:
Why are you not giving Shakespeare more of a chance? Or any chance at all?