Today, April 23, marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. It seems like there should be some sort of fanfare, don't you think? Imagine what the world would be like had there not been a Shakespeare. It's almost impossible to do really, so ingrained is he and his work in our culture. Not just Western culture either. I've got a celebratory treat to share and one that so very fittingly marks this day and his worldwide importance.
I've just received a copy of the newly released Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys Around Shakespeare's Globe by Andrew Dickson to add to my reading pile. Actually I have two copies. One that I shall be eagerly dipping into this weekend and one to share. So, if you are a US resident and would like to throw your name into the virtual hat to win a copy, just leave me a comment. To get into the spirit of things, if you have a favorite work or sonnet or movie adaptation or literary retelling or a visit to the Globe Theater, or any other Shakespeare story, please feel free to share.
The book has an interesting and unusual take on Shakespeare as Andrew Dickson traveled across continents and through the centuries to tell Shakespeare's story, so to speak. While the Bard never traveled, his work has certainly made its way far and wide. Worlds Elsewhere is both a cultural history and a literary travelogue that attempts "to understand how Shakespeare has become the international phenomenon he is--and why".
I have a little teaser to whet your appetite:
"The theatre was packed, people jostling for position. As I watched, three men detached themselves from the crowd and began slowly to climb the steps. A ripple of applause washed over them as they came up on to the stage. Acknowledging it, they glanced around – surprised, bemused to find themselves here in the flat grey light of an English summer afternoon. They were decently dressed, if perhaps a little shabby: long perahan tunics in grey and mud- brown, loose trousers, jackets, rubber sandals. Orange security lanyards flapped at their necks. They carried bags; one had a rug slung across his arm. They looked fresh off the plane, and dusty with tiredness."
I've not read nearly enough Shakespeare, but my own favorite is Twelfth Night. You know how fond I am of female characters dressing up as boys. Mistaken identities, adventure, romance, what's not to love?
I'll drop the names into a hat next Friday and pull a winner out, so make sure you leave a comment if you want to join in the celebratory reading. While I can only pick a winner for a US reader, do check out Andrew's Twitter feed as there are other giveaways and competitions where you can try your luck.