Remembering the Bard

By Abhi Subedi for The Kathmandu Post, 27 December 2015

When I visited Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford upon Avon for the fourth time one rainy day this November, I observed a few interesting things. The ambience of the place was relatively calm and devoid of any fanfare to commemorate his 400th anniversary in comparison to my previous visit to the place in 1988. Back then, the Cambridge literary seminar had taken us there to watch one of Shakespeare’s plays. On the cool unrepaired paths and creaking staircase of the house where Shakespeare was born, confusions about what to see and how to go about pervaded the atmosphere. And the place is increasingly becoming more of a tourist centre.

Upstairs, two big photographs of two popular celebrities, a woman and a man, put in the very sanctuary surprised me. I asked what they were doing there. A lady said they were famous people who had visited this place. I asked half in jest, “Would you also put my picture here because I have taught Shakespeare for 44 years in a very far place from here?” One senior person, apparently an academic who was listening to my conversation, supported my views. But my question carried an important meaning. Shakespeare is no longer defined only by his native space or institution that claims authority on him. The ‘mystery’ and ‘perennial fire’ is all-pervasive and this is visible in the interpretations of Shakespeare’s works by the people around the world since the last 400 years.

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