Shakespeare's Stratford

Shakespeare's Stratford

Shakespeare's Stratford

Shakespeare's Stratford

Excerpt

A great artist, whether poet or painter, inevitably reflects his environment, while he mirrors so much more. Unconsciously and consciously he shows us the surroundings of his youth and manhood, the places, happenings, and people among whom he was born and bred, loved, worked, and suffered. We see medieval Florence in Dante Divina Commedia: he would not have been Dante had he not revealed his beloved city. Stratford, and in a less degree London, lives in Shakespeare's work.

From first to last his native town was the Poet's home. Stratford was his refuge from an overcrowded life. Rehearsals and instruction (with distribution and final revision of the parts--not to mention the touching up of old or other men's work), acting in the afternoon and often in the evening, at Court and in the halls of nobles and scholars, at the Curtain, then at the Globe and the Blackfriars, left little leisure for dramatic composition. From the gathering of the players in London for the Christmas season to their flight into the country from summer heat and epidemic, and the conclusion of their tour, usually in the West, in or near Warwickshire, Shakespeare led an exhausting existence, and welcomed, we may believe, with an infinite relief, the quiet of Arden and Avon, the old fellowship of neighbours who were not 'players' but merely 'men and women', and the love which awaited him in Henley Street and New Place. The artist, even the great (the lesser almost invariably loses it at some time or another), is in danger of forfeiting his sanity, mistaking the imaginary for fact; and it is good to trace . . .

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