April 21st

By 1773, when this anthology of satirical and serious poems was printed, David Garrick, Samuel Johnson, Pope and Theobald and so many others had done much to solidify the high cultural standing of Shakespeare’s plays; both a consequence and a catalyst of that cultural standing were the many compilations, re-iterations, and performances of Shakespeare’s plays, monologues, and most memorable lines. Those many rememberings of Shakespeare’s work were quite frequently reverent–but this was not always the case.

This page from the collection of poems, featuring a parody of Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” speech, takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the Danish prince’s lines, changing that crucial infinitive–“to be”–to a word that has much to do with the ways we remember Shakespeare, as well as so much else: “to print.”

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