Today you will receive the photocopy of the chapter about Elizabethan England, as we agreed.
Every language reaches, at some historical moment, a peak of expressiveness and richness. In Spanish, this is arguably the XVI’s century, with the prose of Fray Luis de León (Los nombres de Cristo) and Cervantes and the poetry of San Juan de la Cruz. In the case of English, there is not doubt that the peak is the England of Elizabeth I and King James. The time of Shakespeare’s poetry and theatre, and the prose of King James’ Bible and the Essays by Francis Bacon.
Learning a language, as anything else, is as much about studying rules and items and practice them, as about imitating models and acquiring a sense of style, expressiveness and rhythm. Thus the importance of reading the great masters and of being around people that not only speak English, but do so with beauty and style. So, let’s hope we can learn something in this osmotic way, by reading and delivering (with spirit!) the most famous theatre extract in English: To be or not to be, by Shakespeare.
Here you have a PDF with the original and a modern English version: To be or not to be. And here, a classic rendition, by Kenneth Branagh. More explanations in class: