The story appears on

Page A4

April 24, 2014

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Shakespeare center stage at public reading initiative

THERE was much ado about something at Shanghai’s Sinan Mansions yesterday as academics and actors gathered to read from Shakespeare’s classic works.

The event marked World Book Day — set up by UNESCO in 1995 to promote reading, publishing and copyright — and the 450th anniversary of the birth of English playwright and poet William Shakespeare.

“The Bard” is widely regarded as the finest writer in the English language.

Organizers said the salon was held to encourage public reading, as people spend less time with their nose in a book these days.

“Some people do read books, but they may only read books that are useful to their studies and careers,” Zhang Chong, a professor from the School of Foreign Languages and Literature, told Shanghai Daily.

“Fewer read classics that may be ‘useless’ but allow readers to have a taste of a writer’s experiences and thoughts through their imagination.”

Zhang blamed China’s education system for this state of affairs, saying students are trained to read in order to pass exams, not for enjoyment.

Even in book stores, supplementary educational books are always displayed in prominent places, while classics are tucked away in corners, Zhang added.

“We must stimulate interest so that people pick up books on their own initiative,” he said.

Zhang said that academics must also take some blame. Professors and lecturers are inclined to produce unfathomable analyses of classics for their own career development, alienating ordinary readers, he said.

A survey by Shanghai Jiao Tong University found that 50 percent of college students interviewed said the key reason preventing them from reading was a busy schedule of classes.

Around 20 percent said they had so many extra-curricular activities that they had no time to read at all, while another 20 percent said they had time but could not get down to reading.

A busy lifestyle also makes people prefer “fast-food” reading, which demands little effort, rather than high-brow classics, Zhang said.

Colleges, libraries and book stores should hold salons to capture people’s interest and provide an environment for them to read, he added.

“When the professors and actors were reading excerpts from Shakespeare, I was really inspired and now want to read the plays,” said college student Iris Wu at yesterday’s salon.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend