Thursday, 18 August 2011

Righting the wrong and quoting the misquote


There's a thread on Facebook and all over the Internet that goes: "Shakespeare said: I always feel happy. You know why? Because I don't expect anything from anyone; expectations always hurt. Life is short, so love your life. Be happy and keep smiling. Just live for yourself and always remember: Before you speak... Listen. Before you write... Think. Before you spend... Earn. Before you pray... Forgive. Before you hurt... Feel. Before you hate... Love. Before you quit... Try. Before you die... Live."

There's no way the Bard could have said, or written, this. Nowhere are those words to be found in, say, the Riverside Shakespeare. Please people, don't be fooled. Shakespeare may certainly have passed a similar message in many of his plays and poems, but I really care too much for his works to let them be stripped off their insight or masqueraded into a worldwide-webbed farce. Robert Herrick has certainly meant this in "To the virgins to make much of time" (1648), following Horace in his Odes (1, 11), but remember that their message, similar to the Bard's, is always way more subtle than the one above, and stems from a willingness not to preach, but to warn and to share experience, insight, knowledge, and an innate passion for life. There is, in their words, as ever, more than meets the eye. I understand that many yearn for this kind of messages of hope or philosophies, but hey, render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto Shakespeare the things that are Shakespeare's.

Let's hope I don't sound like an old, cantankerous man. Carpe diem everyone, but don't forget quam minimum credula postero. As always, words are important.

14 comments:

  1. "Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more ; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing ..."

    This is more like it !

    ReplyDelete
  2. "To blog or not to blog", said Hamlet, in reply to Othello who told him "Put out the comment, and then, put out the comment." Both knew that Henry the Fifth was spamming Richard III's blogger account on purpose because the latter dated Cromwell's third girlfriend. It was Falstaff who discovered the plot because he hacked Iago's secret identity database.

    ReplyDelete
  3. its actually doesnt matter who said that
    its simply a truth
    it can help people
    so there is the point of everything

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is not fair to Shakespeare. This is not fair to me, either. I feel betrayed and cheated to share it. One native Italian with less knowledge of English mentioned it to me.

      Delete
    2. Of course it matters who said it. This misquote that happens all the time is like a campaign against literature. Such a disrespect. Besides, it has an author. It is not respetful to the real author either.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, was in a good mood an this stuff resonated well. So sad, i shared it....would of been better, if the name of Shakespear would of missing...now feels stupid 😔

      Delete
  4. Thanks for the posting. I get tired of these misquotes, and the Disneyfication of great poets. Someone writing some preachy platitudes, Calvinism thinly disguised, steals the identity of an artist whose name survives nearly 400 years after his death.... It's a pain. And disingenuous.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello Unknown and Sanufski! Thanks for taking the time to reply. I understand your point, Unknown, as in fine it's the message that matters to people, but I can't help feel like Snafuski as I'd hate to have words attributed to me -- however great and powerful this message may appear to people -- while I'm not actually the one responsible for them. The one who wrote them should not be anonymous. And as a Shakespearean specialist and a Literature teacher, I exhort my students to be precise when they quote, or get inspiration from, a writer. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I just knew this was NOT a quote by Shakespeare.

      Delete
    2. Worldwide literary critics and literature lovers have been quoting the Bard's lines. But as an humble student of English Literature I can firmly say that I have never come across these lines in any nof his plays.Anyway authorship apart,let us enjoy the sheer meaning of the lines. Viva La Shakesoeare!

      Delete
  6. Didn't sound like anything Shakespeare would have said, but I wanted another opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. hmmm…doesn't sound like a quote from Shakespeare. But it's good to know I am not alone in that thought.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A very funny (but true) take on misquoting from John Oliver (Last Week Tonight):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx8siugG440

    ReplyDelete

Avis sur la chose en question
Feedback on the thing in question