‘TIS UNUSUAL FOR A UNIVERSAL LITERARY FIGURE to have arrived in this world and departed it on the same day 52 years apart. But that’s what The Bard did in the 16th century: he was born on April the 23rd in 1564 and died on April the 23rd in 1616.

I am, of course, speaking of William Shakespeare. He was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s preeminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”. His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

My own fascination with The Bard goes back to my school days in Delhi, India, when Macbeth was performed on the extended stage set up by the Christian Brothers in the spacious attendance hall before a raucous audience of young boys. And I was given the role of one of the Three Witches (sketched alongside) and recited with as much feeling as I could muster in my role of First Witch:

When shall we three meet again 
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

That led to my family’s acquisition for me of The Riverside Shakespeare – a massive, weighty tome of all the plays and other works under one cover with over 1900 pages that I had to place on my home desk in order to read my favorite passages.

This recollection was brought home to me the other day, when the New York Times Book Review of April 22, 2018 highlighted “Macbeth” by Jo Nesbo with a review by James Shapiro, who – under the heading Sex, Drugs and … Shakespeare – summarizes the book as “a thriller about the struggle for power that takes place in a noir-like setting.” How noir may be gathered by Andrew Taylor’s critique this month in The Spectator of Jo Nesbo: “His version of Macbeth has many of the same qualities — strong, unsubtle characters, a driving narrative packed with set-piece action sequences and a surreal, cartoonish quality that often has more to do with Gotham City than Glasgow.”

Two years ago I devoted a blog to a special Shakespeare Centenary that included a trip to Germany and a theater visit where a popular play of The Bard was being performed. You’re welcome to visit the site enigmatically titled: SHKSPR – QDRCNTNNAL—Enjoy, if only to fill in the missing vowels!

References: My Diary; Wikipedia

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Copyright © 2018 Azim Lewis Mayadas