Shakespeare and Democracy

Shakespeare and Democracy

Shakespeare and Democracy

Shakespeare and Democracy

Excerpt

It is the privilege -- if not the duty -- of criticism to look at both the worlds, the now and the everlasting. Scholarship, of course, must try to weigh facts dispassionately in seeking truth. Certainly literary criticism, in our time even more than in Matthew Arnold's, needs sane "disinterestedness" if it is to approximate, however modestly, any valid-criticism of life. But critical disinterestedness has never meant mere passivity, and must not now be confounded with pale indifferentism. My readers, at any rate, will observe that the stern form and pressure of contemporary events have left their mark upon this book, especially upon its opening and closing pages. These public addresses -- small excerpts from the record of The University of Tennessee's program of public service in critical times -- are here printed in their original form: as documents, such as they are, of our day.

Readers who have happened to see earlier work of mine, may notice that I have here put old and new together. In creative art and literature -- as I have suggested at the end of this book -- the old and the new often gain by being viewed together; and I believe that something of the same principle may hold in humbler fields of endeavor. Therefore I have integrated, in the three sections of this book, materials old and new which, according to friends and scholars whose judgment I trust, belong together. In the opening section, for example, I have put together certain critical and historical "revaluations." Their similarity in approach and method should supply an over-all test of the validity of my conclusions and of my purpose. It is my belief that criticism, in order to keep alive, must, from time to time, pour its old wine into new bottles. It must seek -- as I have suggested else-

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