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When thinking about the longest piece of literature, one cannot help but reflect upon Shakespeare. In fact, when I was young I used to try and analyse why the Bard was so good at weaving tales of love, tragedy, comedy and despair, weaving them into stories that, despite their very nature, managed to remain afloat in the span of thousands of years. The man is said to have written a hundred works and all but two of these are considered to be amongst his best work.
The second person who comes to my mind when considering how much did it cost to read Shakespeare is Cleopatra. She is one of history’s most famous queens and the shortest playwright in the history of Western civilisation. She wrote little more than a hundred plays and they all remain popular to this day. Her most famous play, the Taming of the Shrew, is often quoted by actors and theatre makers alike. She also wrote a few books of poetry, some of which are still available to this day. The shortest book of poetry by a woman, however, is called the Anonymous Romance by Sappho, and although it is only a potted biography it is in itself worth reading because it offers insight into what it was like to be a woman in ancient Roman society.
The third person to come to mind when asking “how much did it cost to read Shakespeare” is the world’s most famous practitioner of word play, word sleuths, William Shakespeare. He is responsible for many of the most well-known plots and characters in the English language, and his writing is still seen around the world as a tour de force. The man, however, is not nearly as famous as some of his theatrical successors. He wrote around fifty plays and wrote almost a hundred playbacks, making him the world’s most prolific writer of all time.
His most famous play, has come to be known as the longest pieces of English literature, but did you know that the very first play he ever wrote was actually an elegy? If you are wondering how that came about, well, the play was The Merchant of Venice and it ran for just under a year. Although it is strange to think that a play that was meant to last for so long would have been written in a single year, it is a fact that the play did last that long. Of course, he eventually included additional shorter pieces of work after that, but this is the longest of the entire set of works.
As a matter of fact, the set of works he created in order to launch his career can be considered to be as long as that of Mozart or Beethoven. He wrote around fifty operas, each with their own theme. These are normally set in Central Europe, but they do stretch all over Europe. Of all of his works, however, the arguably most famous and probably the most haunting is his Sonnets. With each poem, there is a sense of the poet looking back at his life and creating a creation, not unlike a sonnet, for his audience.
One of the most intriguing things about Jonson’s writing is the way he twists and turns the words of the old stories he is telling. Most people view the Sonnets as a series of fables, although this is far from true. In fact, the Sonnets tell a unique kind of parable, which is very different from the usual narrative. As a matter of fact, many of the Sonnets actually tell their readers about their own life and the actions they have taken. This makes the piece a unique and wonderful journey into the mind of the poet.
When you consider that the writer of the Sonnets spent more than a decade creating this collection, you begin to realize just how massive this collection is. This is a huge amount of writing and the writing is extraordinary. The length of a typical composition is normally between eighty and one hundred thousand words, but Jonson’s Sonnets stretches much further, possibly close to two hundred thousand words in total. This is a massive amount of writing, but the size of the piece is not what makes it so remarkable. The size of the piece is what makes the length of the piece, and its importance to the literary community, such a remarkable achievement.
People have argued over the exact age of Jonson’s writing, but no one can really claim to know when he wrote the piece. Some people say he completed it while he was asleep, others suggest that he completed it on the eve of his death, but the exact date is uncertain. Regardless of when the piece was first written, it is now known as the oldest literary work to survive into the twenty-first century. This piece is a wonder to modern eyes and is well worth studying. The lengthy piece is well worth reading, and it is also a great book to read to inspire you to write your own long piece of literature.