William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 6

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

244.

Alexander Gerard, on Shakespeare’s genius

1774

From An Essay on Genius (1774).

On Gerard see the head-note to Vol. 4, No. 171.

It will be generally allowed that Shakespeare is, in point of genius, superior to Milton. The preference arises from the superiority of his invention. In the lower accomplishments of a poet he is often defective. But the richness of his descriptions, the multiplicity and justness of his characters, the variety, the compass, and the propriety of his sentiments bear the deepest marks of their being original; and at the same time that the internal excellences of his works display a luxuriance of invention, we know that his education gave him but slender opportunities of being acquainted with those ancient masters from whom he could have borrowed any of his beauties, or by whose example he could have even improved his natural powers. (13)

Shakespeare’s judgment was not enough improved to enable him always to avoid improper subjects, unnatural and improbable incidents, forced and quibbling expressions, or to perceive the regularity and simplicity which best suits the nature of the drama; but in supporting the propriety of character, in marking the fit expressions and the natural effects of the several passions, and in many other particulars he displays such an uncommon accuracy of judgment as leads us to impute his blemishes rather to the bad taste of those for whom he wrote, than to any defect in his own understanding. (74)

A fertile imagination is apt to overload a work with a superfluity of ideas: an accurate judgment rejects all that are unnecessary. Shakespeare was not always able to keep the richness of his fancy from displaying itself in cases where judgment would have directed him to control it. That very exuberance of imagination which commands our admiration is sometimes indulged so far as

-113-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 6
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 650

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    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.