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Chapter One Shakespeare: The Master Mind

1.1 Shakespeare and His Life

Renowned as the English playwright and poet whose body of works isconsidered the greatest in the history of English literature, William Shakespeare is ofgreat fame throughout the time and the place. Ben Jonson called him “the soul of theage, the applause, delight, the wonder of our stage” (Jonson 1985: 454); John Drydenrated him highly, saying I admire Jonson, “but I love Shakespeare” (Dryden 1889: 71);Samuel Johnson considered him “above all writers, at least above all modern writers,the poet of nature” (Johnson 1765: 4); the historian Thomas Macaulay praised him as“SHAKESPEARE has had neither equal nor second”. Even today, in a 2002 vote todetermine whom the UK public considers the greatest British people in history,Shakespeare was ranked number 5 in the list of the “100 Greatest Britons” as thehighest-ranked writer for he was thought of by many as the greatest of all Englishwriters.Born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptized on 26 April 1564, Shakespeare beginshis life with irreconcilable mystery. His actual date of birth remains unknown, but istraditionally observed on 23 April, St George’s Day—a date that despite being an18th-century scholar’s mistake, has “proved appealing to biographers, sinceShakespeare died on 23 April 1616” (Schoenbaum 1987: 24). And it is mostly agreed,although no attendance records for the period survive, that Shakespeare was probablyeducated at the local grammar school, which would have provided an intensiveeducation in grammar based upon Latin classical authors since their curricula werelargely similar during the Elizabethan era. So it is reasonable to assume that here helearned Latin grammar, read Aesop’s Fables, then moved on to the usual classics:Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which was frequently quoted or alluded to in his laterwritings, Plautus, whose Menaechmi and Amphitruo supplied the plot for The Comedyof Errors, Terence, Virgil, Cicero and no doubt many others, whose shadows could befound between the lines. The long school days characterized by an extreme devotionto tedium and language training laid a solid foundation for Shakespeare’s craft ofwords. His language abounded with words that have been transformed by affixation,the addition of prefixes and suffixes, injecting vitality and diversity into lexicalenrichment and syntactic flexibility.In 1985, Shakespeare left home and left few historical traces until he wasmentioned as part of the London theatre scene in 1592. The years in between werereferred to as Shakespeare’s “lost years”. No one knows exactly where he has been orwhat he has been up to during that time. What we have is merely apocryphal stories,which are substantiated by little evidence other than hearsay collected after his death.However, in 1592, Shakespeare reappeared in a pamphlet written by the university wit,playwright Robert Greene, in which he accused Shakespeare of “reaching above hisrank in trying to match university-educated writers” (Ackroyd 2006: 176). Obviously,by this time Shakespeare had established himself a young playwright in London andhad also caught the public attention as a rather promising one. With a successfulcareer in London, he produced many works and rose to great fame and fortune as anactor, playwright and part owner of a prominent theatre company called the King’sMen. His life includes many unsolved puzzles for few records remain, and there hasbee论文英语论文网提供整理,提供论文代写英语论文代写代写论文代写英语论文代写留学生论文代写英文论文留学生论文代写相关核心关键词搜索。

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