I’m currently reading a great book titled ‘Blood and Ink’ by DK Marley. It is a really well written historical fiction novel that explores, in part, one of the theories about the identity of the man we know of as William Shakespeare.
Rumours and theories that Shakespeare’s works were written by someone else have abounded for a long time. Various people have been proposed as the actual author.
That’s all very interesting, of course, but the fact is, I really don’t care whether his name was actually Filchin McFarkle.
My love for Shakespeare isn’t about the person: it’s about the language, the writing, and the craftsmanship that combine to be the genius of the writer. What his name was doesn’t matter one bit.
The power of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry is that they take something ordinary and transform it into something extraordinary.
Themes of love, passion, ambition, revenge, hatred, despair, desire, and family dysfunction make his work interesting and relatable to just about everyone. And while there are at least a dozen ways to write any story, the way Shakespeare tells each story is absolute magic.
Shakespeare used rhythm and poetic devices like imagery, allegory and highly emotive language to heighten the feelings and drama of the situations his characters find themselves in. He enmeshes them in a complex web of conflicting emotions and ambitions and then exposes their innermost thoughts in the most profound ways. He really is the master of intrigue and dramatic irony, able to hold the audience spellbound, even though they probably already know what’s going to happen and what the various characters are thinking.
To be honest, some of the storylines are pretty rubbish. There are very convenient coincidences, leaps of logic, and plot holes galore, particularly in the comedies. The history plays are at times more fiction than history. Despite all that, Shakespeare dramatises the stories and scenes in such a compelling way, and so deeply engages the audience in the dilemmas and conflicts experienced by the characters, that any issue of credibility actually doesn’t matter.
I will still pick up a play and read it, or watch a performance, or read the sonnets and be as entranced as ever. Even when interpretations change, the magic with which the words are crafted and woven never gets old.