The Corner

Are You Shakespearienced?

Today — April 23 — marks the traditional observance of Shakespeare’s birthday. So on NRO, we have a symposium on the Bard. In particular, we ask people to pick a favorite play and explain their fondness.

Originally, we had asked them to pick a favorite “play or poem.” The (unstated) idea was to include the possibility of writing on Shakespeare’s sonnets. Yet nobody selected a sonnet. Bad memories from the inevitable sonnet-writing assignment in the 10th grade? Who knows.

Years ago, I attended a talk by Irving Kristol. The small audience was a group of young writers in Washington, D.C. He gave advice on how to build writing skills. His advice, as I recall it, came in two simple parts: Write every day (practice, practice, practice) and read good writing. He went on to give examples of what he considered to be good writing. Then he pulled out a paperback copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets. He said he carried it with him almost everywhere he went, because he could read it in bits and pieces throughout the day.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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