Shakespeare's Sexual Comedy: A Mirror for Lovers

By Hugh M. Richmond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Shakespeare and Modern Sexuality:
Albee's "Virginia Woolf" and "Much Ado"

BRINGING facts about the private life of an author into formal discussion of his work is usually considered tactless. Yet few fictions can be so fully grasped by themselves that a sense of their autobiographical contexts will not clarify the works' scope and limitations. Tactfully handled, the argumentum ad hominem often adds at least comedy and even excitement to one's reading of any text, however dull. And while a work of real distinction will always transcend a mere analysis of its author's life, its insights must necessarily rise out of what was first a specifically personal illumination attained by the writer under a particular set of circumstances. Nothing seems to me more fraudulent in writing than to affect complete impartiality, objectivity, and comprehensiveness. The human mind is not and can never be omniscient. The suppression of one's individual perspective in any argument is not merely a falsification of the origins of the evidence comparable to the myth of "scientific method." Affected objectivity also allows a greater tyranny of judgment over others than when views are tempered by an avowal of one's personal interest in the issue. That is why anonymity is the mark of intellectual pretentiousness, if it is not the symptom of conflict of interest. It is also why I have rejected the conventional objective style in the present book. My comments are based on many years of careful thought and obser

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