Quotes about William Shakespeare
451 Sourced Quotes
It was from him I learned that the stage is too coarse a medium for the works of the supreme poet; Shakespeare's depths can only be plumbed in the solitude of the study. So I used to shut myself up and plumb away for hours, and I acquired such aptitude that for a time there was a belief that I might pipe Shakespeare into young minds of the rest of my days, as a full-fledged academic plumber.
Fifty years on from now, Britain will still be the country of long shadows on cricket grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers and pools fillers and, as George Orwell said, 'Old maids bicycling to holy communion through the morning mist' and, if we get our way, Shakespeare will still be read even in school.
Reading the very best writers—let us say Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Tolstoy—is not going to make us better citizens. Art is perfectly useless, according to the sublime Oscar Wilde, who was right about everything. He also told us that all bad poetry is sincere. Had I the power to do so, I would command that these words be engraved above every gate at every university, so that each student might ponder the splendor of the insight.
During the renaissances in thinking led by Shakespeare and Goethe, the first new development in memory techniques for 1,700 years appeared: the Major System. This was the first system that enabled the user to transfer easily and instantaneously from numbers to letters, thus creating the opportunity for a system that could stretch from zero to an infinite number, and which allowed the user to translate any word into its own special number, and any number into its own special letter. This multiplied the opportunity for developing memory techniques 100-fold.
The slight, the facile and the merely self-glorifying tend to drop away over the centuries, and what we are left with is the bedrock: Homer and Milton, the Greek tragedian and Shakespeare, Chaucer and Cervantes and Swift, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy and James and Conrad. Time does not make their voices fainter, on the contrary, it reinforces our sense of their truth-telling capacity.
He is a farmer. He lives a simple life. He's pretty well educated. He's read Shakespeare, he's read Wordsworth. His wife is a teacher. They have a very comfortable life. They don't have anything to complain about in eighteen forty-nine. This is a key point. They did not have anything that would cause them distress. His expectations were perfectly comfortable expectations of an average family, a farming family in America. The Gold Rush changed that. Suddenly he wanted more. Suddenly he wasn't satisfied.
Millions of people in Britain must have been very surprised to hear that the language of Chaucer, of Shakespeare and of Milton must in future be regarded as an undesirable American import from which we have to protect ourselves if we are to build a new Europe. We can agree that the French own the supreme prose literature in Europe. But if we are to prove — if we have to prove — our Europeanism by accepting that French is the dominant language in the Community, then my answer is quite clear, and I will say it in French in order to prevent any misunderstanding: Non, merci beaucoup.
The myriad-minded man, our, and all men's, Shakespeare, has in this piece presented us with a legitimate farce in exactest consonance with the philosophical principles and character of farce, as distinguished from comedy and from entertainments. A proper farce is mainly distinguished from comedy by the licence allowed, and even required, in the fable, in order to produce strange and laughable situations. The story need not be probable, it is enough that it is possible.