April 23, 1616, William Shakespeare died
April 23, 1616, William Shakespeare died - Shakespeare's works, in addition to the numerous theatrical performances, have given rise to 360 film adaptations, also inspiring poets and composers.
“To be or not to be, that is the dilemma”; who doesn't know the famous phrase spoken by the protagonist of William Shakespeare's Hamlet? Its author is considered a true cornerstone in the history of literature and theater.
Shakespeare's works, in addition to the numerous theatrical performances, have given rise to 360 film adaptations, also inspiring poets and composers.
The biography of the Bard, i.e. the ancient poet, as the English playwright is called, however, remains partly shrouded in mystery.
We don't know the exact date of birth, but we do know that William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, his hometown. The family was quite well off, with his father a merchant and glover and his mother belonging to the landed gentry. It is possible that the young William worked in his father's business, but he also studied at the local public school and married Anne Hathaway at the age of 18, with whom he would have three children.
The mystery of his biography mainly concerns the years between their birth and literary success: the so-called "lost years".
According to one hypothesis, the future internationally renowned author initially worked as a teacher. Another version tells instead that he fled to London to avoid a trial due to poaching. Someone has hypothesized that in London Shakespeare approached the world of theater… initially taking care of the spectators' horses. Since there is no personal documentation, however, we cannot know how his life really unfolded. In that period the passion for the theater was born or consolidated, initially lived, according to some hypotheses, as an actor.
The earliest surviving documents mentioning Shakespeare's achievements as an author date from 1592. Earlier he had gained recognition as a poet, thanks to his sonnets. The theatrical career instead took longer to take off, so much so that Shakespeare decided to invest in the company of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, of which he was a member. He became a shareholder to obtain, in addition to part of the profits, also the possibility of representing his works.
In 1592 Shakespeare already enjoyed a certain fame, so much so as to arouse the envy of his colleagues. The playwright Robert Greene was probably referring to him, when he published an invective addressed to a character he called "a careerist crow", convinced of being "the only agitator of the country's scenes". The expression "shaker of the scenes", referring to the theatre, was "Shake-scene", with a capital "S": an evident play on words with the surname of the Bard. Probably, however, neither Shakespeare nor his envious colleagues imagined how long the fame of his works would last, and how much international diffusion they would have.
Today tragedies such as "Romeo and Juliet", "Hamlet" and "Macbeth" are real must-knows for theater lovers, as are some of his most successful comedies, from "The Merchant of Venice" to "Much Ado About nothing". Part of Shakespeare's genius lies precisely in his ability to have embraced different genres, with varied registers.
His charismatic and partly mysterious figure is still a source of beliefs, anecdotes, curious hypotheses. Among the most singular, the one that the playwright of Italian origins wants: a Sicilian nobleman born with the surname Scrollalanza (of which Shakespeare would be the translation), who arrived in England because he was persecuted in Italy for his Calvinist faith. A theory certainly suggestive for us Italians, but at the moment without any confirmation. Someone has even gone so far as to hypothesize that Shakespeare did not exist, but that a collective of authors was hidden behind that name.
If the imagination, faced with the mystery of an uncertain biography, flies towards the most imaginative conjectures, the certainty of works whose charm is destined to survive remains.
Works that even today, in the 2000s, even continue to influence speech in everyday life. The way of saying "all that glitters is not gold" dates back to "The Merchant of Venice", although previous authors had already quoted a similar saying. Even a youth slang term of recent years has Shakespearean origins: "swag", used as a synonym for "cool", trendy, referring above all to streetstyle clothing. It seems that its origin dates back to the verb "to swagger", used in some works of Shakespeare to say "give yourself airs", "be a swagger". Even "fashionable" ("fashionable") and "manager" would have been coined by the Bard.