Shakespeare at 400: Hamlet

Shakespeare at 400: Hamlet
For my final look at famous quotations from the works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) as the 400th anniversary of his death approaches (on April 23), here are some famous speeches and smaller quotations from “Hamlet.” Among the smallest is one that needs to be short: “Brevity is the soul of wit.” –¬†Act II, Scene 2... Read more »

Shakespeare at 400: 'As You Like It'

Shakespeare at 400: 'As You Like It'
Sometimes the best part of “browsing through Bartlett’s,” my looks at Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, is finding the long version of something that’s usually quoted as just a few lines. That’s what happened to me when my search for the work of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) led me to “As You Like It.” Just about any speaker... Read more »

Shakespeare at 400: 'A Midsummer-Night's Dream'

Shakespeare at 400: 'A Midsummer-Night's Dream'
The perfect Shakespeare¬†play for this week — which as I write has seen snow, rain and sleet as well as sun — seems to be “A Midsummer-Night’s Dream.” William Shakespeare (1564-1616) seems rarely to have written anything so romantic and fun. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations has several quotations from the play, such as these: “The course... Read more »
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Shakespeare at 400: 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare at 400: 'Romeo and Juliet'
“Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) contains what might be the most thoroughly quoted dramatic scene in all of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations — Act II, Scene 2. Actually, though, it starts being quotable early. From the Prologue to Act I comes a description used for this and many other plays, “A pair of star-cross’d... Read more »

Shakespeare at 400: 'The Taming of the Shrew'

Shakespeare at 400: 'The Taming of the Shrew'
For a new look at another play by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) as shown in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, let’s consider one of the comedies, “The Taming of the Shrew.” You may know its modern version, “Kiss Me Kate” better, but “Taming” is still full of interesting and funny observations. For instance: “And if the boy have... Read more »

In defense of things that are 'old hat'

In defense of things that are 'old hat'
As spring looms, I will have a pair of decisions to make: When should I put my old tweed hat up on the shelf? and Will I really want it, looking like this, when the weather turns cold again? I don’t know when I’ll put it up on the shelf, but I know I’ll take... Read more »
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Shakespeare at 400: 'The Comedy of Errors'

Shakespeare at 400: 'The Comedy of Errors'
For today’s look at the best quotations by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), I’ve chosen a title that itself gets quoted a great deal, “The Comedy of Errors.” Again, the quotations mix familiarity and rarity that should be more familiar. In the former category is: “There is something in the wind.” – Act III, Scene 1 In... Read more »

I would like to thank you for reading this headline... but it's not the whole story!

I would like to thank you for reading this headline... but it's not the whole story!
Maybe it’s the Oscars and “I would like to thank the academy” speeches; maybe it’s the primary election and the frequent use of “I would like to introduce” or other conditional phrases. Whatever the reason, I’m sick and tired of hearing that people “would like to thank” or “want to thank” someone for something. If... Read more »

Shakespeare at 400: 'Henry VI' and 'Richard III'

Shakespeare at 400: 'Henry VI' and 'Richard III'
For the first look at quotations from works by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), let’s look at two plays about kings of England: “King Henry VI” and “King Richard III.” (Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations uses the word king in each title, but I’ll dispense with it occasionally if the meaning remains clear.) “Henry VI” is an interesting mix... Read more »
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Shakespeare at 400: the best from Bartlett's

Shakespeare at 400: the best from Bartlett's
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) takes up 88 pages in my edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotation (the thirteenth edition, 1955). For comparison’s sake, the Bible takes up only 46 pages (with one quotation from the Wycliffe Translation, 1384, and the rest from the King James, or Authorized, Version, 1611). In a recent evening of browsing through Bartlett’s,... Read more »