(P1) Britain is a very fortunate land in at least one respect. For the last four centuries, the greatest Briton has not been a king or a general, an ARISTOCRAT or a political leader, but a poet and dramatist. This best of us all was not a man of action or wealth but of literature.

(P2) William Shakespeare’s HERITAGE is PASSED DOWN through the generations. It is in the language we use, the phrases we UTTER, the conversations we have, and in the images and references we use to express ourselves and to imagine our country and its history.

(P3) Shakespeare requires no ANNIVERSARY year to be CELEBRATED. This EXTRAORDINARY man, who seems to have known everything there ever was to know about human beings, was in so many ways so very ordinary. We can still relate to him.

(P4) Yet 2016 is nevertheless the 400th anniversary of his death in 1616 and, since big Shakespeare anniversaries only happen about once every 50 years, we should make something special out of it. There is only joy in celebrating the gift that Shakespeare has given the people of this country and the world for the past 400 years.

(P5) There will of course be serious exhibitions, SYMPOSIUMS, and other events to mark the year.

(P6) But the living COMMEMORATION will be in the plays, almost 40 of them, which as usual are being PERFORMED in every corner of the globe, and in every imaginable way. They will be done straight, cut, adapted, updated, reimagined, danced, sung, with and without music, indoors, outdoors, by professionals, by AMATEURS, in English and in other languages.

(P7) Shakespeare is hardly NEGLECTED in British life. But we can always treat him better and more imaginatively than we do. When we make NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, many of us COULD DO WORSE than make two Shakespearian VOWS for 2016. First, to see a Shakespeare play, PREFERABLY one that is not done so often, in order to celebrate the work itself; and, second, if possible, to see the play in Stratford-upon-Avon, where his story started and ended.

WORDS: 332

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/31/the-guardian-view-on-shakespeares-400th-anniversary-the-plays-the-thing


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Who is the greatest person ever from your country?
  3. Have you ever seen a Shakespeare play on stage or film?
  4. Have you ever acted in a play (maybe while you were in school)?
  5. Do you think it is important to celebrate the past?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Pass down
  • New Year’s resolution
  • Could do worse

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