Shakespeare, Man and Artist - Vol. 1

Shakespeare, Man and Artist - Vol. 1

Shakespeare, Man and Artist - Vol. 1

Shakespeare, Man and Artist - Vol. 1

Excerpt

My endeavour has been (and it is but an endeavour) to see Shakespeare in his context -- to study and interpret him in the light of his environment, geographical, domestic, social, religious, dramatic, literary. I have approached him from the end of his antecedents, not of his sequel, from the end, that is, of the first half of the sixteenth century, not of the second half of the seventeenth: on the side of Latimer's Warwickshire and the Reformation in Stratford, the old morality Drama still going strong, hand in hand with the preaching of 'God's Word', and the reading for the first time in English of the Bible as a new and sacred discovery -- not on the side of Restorationist gossip, a degenerate and discredited Stage (from which Ben Jonson had turned in disgust), and an exhausted Puritanism. From the one we may see him emerge and develop, as a Latin school boy, as an attorney's clerk, as a poet and a dramatist, the rival of Marlowe, until he outrivals him and all others, and wins the favour and stimulating appreciation of the Queen.

A modern study which stands out in my grateful recollection is Sir Walter Raleigh Shakespeare in 'English Men of Letters'. It is a brilliant book, in its delightful paradox, keen sense of the Poet's sanity, and grip of his literary craftsmanship. But it suffers unspeakably from its approach from the wrong end, and consequent misinterpretation of contemporary surroundings and vital influences. John Shakespeare a 'Polonius', the Poet's acquirement of his law from this 'frothy' parent, his Biblical knowledge from 'the phraseology of his age', and acquaintance with Ovid from Golding's translation, are among the hasty inferences from what has been dropped by careless after-comers. They are not sober conclusions diligently derived ex tempore on the spot.

Much of our information, in Stratford as in London, comes by way of the law-court. John Shakespeare would be little more than a name to us had he not been a stickler for his rights and an obstinate recusant. And without the quarrel of Stephen Bellot with his father-in-law, Monsieur Montjoy, we should be unaware of the Poet's lodging in Silver Street and friendship in . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.