Recently, I started reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. In the section entitled “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books”, the narrator says:
“…few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a place in our memory to which, sooner or later – no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn and forget- we will return.”
For me, two books are tied for this role. One is The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. The other is Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.
I know that you will probably laugh at that. Romeo and Juliet is not my favorite play of Shakespeare’s. I don’t think that it is the love story to end all love stories. But it was the play that first made me realize what people could do with words.
Unlike the chapter books we read in class, Shakespeare’s words rolled off the tongue. They danced while the chapter books tottered. And as Romeo fell in love with Juliet, I fell in love with the English language.
I’ve read *almost* all of Shakespeare’s plays and all of his sonnets. I own more than 3 different versions of his complete works plus individual copies of some of the plays. I even went to school dressed in a historically accurate Roman stoa in order to give a book report on Julius Caesar.
In my experience, the two most some responses to Shakespeare are apathy or love. I think it’s clear which side I’m on.