We live in a political time where 1984 by George Orwell is constantly being referenced, but my preference has always been William Shakespeare.  Did my enjoyment of Shakespeare begin with the first words read, the Shakespeare course taught by a brilliant college professor that looked brilliant wearing splendid scarves or the many fabulous film adaptations of William Shakespeare starring Kenneth Branagh?  I’m sure many things played a role, even a trip to the Stratford Festival to see the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Whereas the power and seduction of Shakespeare’s words continue to resonate after the closing of the book cover, sadly Orwell’s words never left the classroom of assigned reading.  If by some chance I was asked if I liked 1984, I would answer yes, the sixth album of Van Halen, 1984, was outstanding.

“This above all: to thine own self be true”

Hamlet – William Shakespeare

18 Replies to “Shakespeare or Orwell?”

  1. Shakespeare has written so many powerful lines, plays and poems, sometimes I’m so in awe and amazing when I read or watch his work. It’s also so gratifying that it has all withstood the test of time and continues to be adapted and renewed constantly!

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  2. I am with you all the way. I fell in love with Shakespeare when I was a teenager, and that love remains constant. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have never read Orwell, but those who have certainly indicate that his books remain very relevant today.

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  3. They are widely different, and Shakespeare is endlessly superior. Shakespeare — might he have been a single man and not multiple, akin Homer, was pure passion in shade of anachronic.
    Orwell was simply an author who’s oeuvre had a deep impact on the way political-based stories could be told without over-saturating the plot. He was good, but he wasn’t brilliant, simply the first and most influential. Much how Rimbaud’s poetry is terrible, but as a first personage of surrealism and poetic prose, he was greatly revered and influenced many, many who were undoubtably superior to him.
    Art is very composed of Timing.

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  4. Both are enduring, but Shakespeare has the poetry and range (and humour!) “The Road to Wigan Pier” is my favourite by Orwell, and “MacBeth” my favourite Shakespeare play. Probably because it was the first we studied at school that seemed accessible. Love the Ken adaptations, and perhaps he’ll do more? I should watch them again, as respite from the current madness…

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    1. I can get a little obsessive about authors I love and that certainly happened after that wonderful Shakespeare course. Each reading led to watching another play or film adaptation and Hamlet and its many film adaptations have always been a favorite. The fascination continues today and I enjoyed the PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered from a few years ago and when I was checking the movie listings for the week I discovered the recent release of King Lear at the theaters starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins that may need to be seen this week with rain on its way.🙂


  5. Having Shakespeare crammed into me at school and not fully explained did not help me for the future. But I was the only 15 yr old in my class who was watching Orson Welles in the old B/W version of Macbeth on the school video recorder and actually being blown away. Have studied Macbeth properly since and still totally GET it. Orwell did leave us with ‘All animals are equal…’ which I do see fit to quote often.

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