Wednesday, April 21, 2010
There is Much in a Name by Khurshid Alam
Introduction: Celebrating the birth anniversary of William Shakespeare on 23rd of April. According to records, Shakespeare was baptized on 25th of April 1564 (and died on 23rd April, 1616). Though exact date of his birth is not recorded anywhere, he is believed to have born on 23rd April, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. His birth anniversary is celebrated on this date worldwide.
In India there are many societies, associations, universities, and libraries which persevere and promote the literature of William Shakespeare. They organize many programs on Shakespeare’s anniversary. Some of the popular organizations are:
Shakespeare Society of India (Kolkata)
Shakespeare Association of India, MKU Madurai, (Tamil Nadu)
Shakespeare Society of India, 1398 Dr Mukherjee Nagar, Delhi.
Shakespeare Society of Eastern India, Kolkata.
There is Much in a Name
‘What is in a name?’ wrote William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet (1595). Shakespeare had the view that there is nothing in a name, for a rose is a rose by whatever name it is known. Since then this became a phrase and is quoted worldwide. But Shakespeare perhaps had little knowledge of the science of naming, according to which a name is a given tab and that different people of the world have different conventions of naming. A name carries a file of information. Names indicate coterie of a people that includes associations such as creed, caste, language and regional identities among others. For example, one can simply understand which culture William Shakespeare belonged to. But what if his name were “Willayat Miyan Sheikh Peer” much rhyming with “William Shakespeare”? His old identity would be immediately suspended. Just by changing his name he would be identified as a Muslim who rather belongs to the Indian sub-continent cultural conglomerate than the Western counterpart.
In his Sonnets published in 1609, Shakespeare shrouded the identity of some persons. Among them one prominent example is of “Mr. W. H.” without providing a clue to the initial whom he dedicated the anthology. Second example is of a dark lady with whom he is alleged to have an illicit relation, and whose name he never mentioned in any of his sonnets. His intention in not mentioning these names was clearly to keep the secret in the dark for ever, and the researchers are always halfway to the truth. Maybe only Shakespeare knew what impact it would have if he had named the persons he referred to in his writing?
Some years back, a police station in central Calcutta in India raised its name plate during the renovation that read as “Sexpeare Sarani” instead of “Shakespeare Sarani”. It created much criticism in the media and intelligentsia. But why criticize if there is nothing in a name. After all, was it not localized in the true sense of the term, like Mumbai from Bombay?