Four years ago this week, a very rare book was discovered in a library in France. It was a 400-year-old original copy of 36 of Shakespeare’s plays. It is the only source for 18 of his plays, including Macbeth. Shakespeare didn’t receive much acclaim when he was alive, but seven years after his death two close friends printed 750 copies of the book to keep their friend’s talent alive. It originally sold for just over a dollar and today is worth $5.5 million.
But what is the book worth when you look at the cultural and artistic fabric of our lives?
There is no way Shakespeare’s friends could have known that his works would be shared in every high school classroom and on stages in countless cities around the globe.
Tonight, my son will perform in the opening night of a play that is a spin-off of two of Shakespeare’s classics… Othello and Romeo and Juliet. His words live on.
I love the idea that one person can do something that can change the world. Sitting at a desk with an ink pen and paper. Telling stories with universal themes about love, war, jealousy, ambition, guilt, forgiveness, self-deception, revenge and justice.
We really haven’t changed that much in 400 years. We have indoor plumbing and wifi, but the same stories make us cry and cheer. The same ideas pull at our heart strings or ignite our anger.
It’s impossible to pick one Shakespeare quote that stands out as he said so many prolific, timeless things including…
“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
“If music be the food of love, play on.”
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
“Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
“This above all; to thine own self be true.”
“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
That is the question. What will we be? How might we change the world with our talents? You have a blank page and it’s up to you to start writing.