I’ve been living in London for about a month now, so as any reasonable person with a little time might do, I’ve been studying up on the famous former resident, Shakespeare; the magnificent writer, poet and playwright. I will admit the man had a certain way with the words, and, more specifically, a remarkable way with dialogue. However, I’m not the first person to realize that but about 99% (of what I’ve managed to dig out of the little bookshop on the corner for £2 a pop), consists of; straight talk, beautiful talk, proper talk, eloquent, even. I do hope I’m not coming off as sarcastic, because I really think this. The man had a silver tongue, as they say. I find the process of moving a story along primarily through the spoken word is really quite impressive. I’ve only brushed up on Othello, Macbeth and The Tempest (my favourite so far), but I plan on reading the remainder of the copies that lie in that bookstore.
Firstly, let me clarify a few things. I have never attended a college course where his writing styles, and/or id has been discussed at length, in any exhausting way, and for no good reason. Nor have I ever been to a Shakespeare play, and I don’t really intend, to unless of course, I manage to get two free tickets and two drinks to match (preferably stiff ones), vouchers attached. However, I have enough mental capacity to recognize that he could write, but I don’t feel the want to jump into it any further. Yes, I have seen a handful of the movies made based on his plays, Lurhmans Romeo and Juliet, a version of Hamlet with Mel Gibson, and 10 Things I Hate About You (which is my favourite adaptation). All that being said, the point I am trying to make is that in these times the man should just be read….but it really is fantastic the way he could tell a story by simply using dialogue. I’m jealous.
In all seriousness, though, isn’t Charles Dickens so much better? It’s not even close, when you really think about it. Dickens created some of the greatest stories with some of the most relatable, honest and vile characters ever put into paperback. Please keep in mind, I’ve done no homework on this, just a rather personal opinion that went floating through my mind, as I sit idly by the bedside because;
sometimes a thousand twanging instruments will hum about my ears,
(It’s beautiful language from The Tempest but who talks like that?).
Mr. Lorry, you know what a brute I am, I wish you would give me a little brandy,
(Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton- greatest character, brute of a man).
The problem, I think, is that Shakespeare was more of a pure poet than anything. He had a gorgeous ability to make English words sound as if they were coming from the mouth of a harp. I like reality a little more than beauty, for the most part, and Dickens has his boots so deep in reality he may as well be connected to at least four lines of the tube. In the end it’s all about connection. I’m aware of the critiques of both, (especially Dickens), but the aberration of beauty is nothing compared to real life poetry playing out on the page, in my humbly half-witted opinion.
My apologies for not diving deeper; I suppose my only true motive for this is to possibly get some people to either; feed into the bar-room discussion, possibly convert people to my side of the argument, or maybe even get someone to read some of the work of these two, and not forced to, like you had to when you were a teenager. Both are funny men. Both can tell a hell of a story. Both are British, (and as an American, there’s no reason to hold that against them). But in a head to head battle royale, with the prize being the hearts and minds of word loving people—who can honestly say that Dickens is not better?