The plays of Shakespeare along with the writing of Chaucer are often credited as the founding of the modern English language. Many of the plays seem convoluted and somewhat awkward to modern sensibilities. Historians and critics challenge the interpretation of facts by the bard and recently a strange theory has arisen proposing that Shakespeare was actually born of a northern Italian family and brought to Stratford at an early age. If so he seems to have mastered the language rather quickly.
It is not the plays them self which attract me so much as the bard's turn of phrase and wondrous insight. Rather than attempt a review of this book, an almost impossible task I would simply like to list some of the phrases oft quoted from the masters body of work. If you do not appreciate them there is no point reading this volume.
He is little, but he is feared.
To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.
The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.
Listen to many, speak to a few.
This above all; to thine own self be true.
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike; so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father.
God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another.
The golden age is before us, not behind us.
Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.
My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy.
There is no darkness but ignorance.
When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.
They do not love that do not show their love.
'Tis not enough to help the feeble up, but to support them after.
Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.
I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man.
He that loves to be flattered is worthy o' the flatterer.
'Tis better to bear the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
Please do forgive this exceedingly long list of quotes from the bard. However if these do not please you I suggest you may choose to refrain from this work. If they do please you be assured there are hundreds more to savor.
Please note the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare" are not truly complete.
As a former teacher I am generally undeterred by the insipid. An unending accumulation of student papers has caused this effect. This book however is beyond the pale. Hopefully Mr. Cantrell will succeed in future efforts. I wish him good fortune.
Perhaps this comment is unduly harsh. I have read nothing by Mr. Cantrell previously and will seek to do so as the opportunity arises. It is always easier to read than write and so hope for improvement is never unjustified.
The "Horror of the Heights" and "The New Catacomb" are amongst the finest short fiction written by Doyle. "The Man with the Watches" is a pleasant read as is "The Lost Special". It is amazing that one man who thought so little of his fiction and so much of his long and tedious biographies could consistently be not only the founder of the modern detective mystery but the creator of such memorable characters. I recommend this book to all.