ALMOST the twin of my infant daughter, this book was conceived in a Paris flat on the Left Bank, which was soon to reverberate with the echoes of police batons hammering on student skulls and the crash of flying cobblestones. In due course it was born into a Berkeley clouded with tear gas, baptized on Telegraph Avenue in coffee shops flanked by the bayonets of the National Guard, and confirmed in university rooms sprinkled with broken glass or stained by arson attempts. Under the circumstances it is unlikely to prove just another academic book about Shakespeare. The old style of scholarship is manifestly failing to meet certain needs of modern society, while the demand of the young for relevance has led them to reject all but last week's leaders (even Mario Savio looks a bit lonely sitting over there in Cody's bookstore). I find myself dissatisfied with both conventional views; some new synthesis is needed. I am almost tempted to exorcise the demon Confrontation by invoking that fishy British word: Compromise.
A "classic" author who cannot help us to live better now has little claim on our attention; but if there really are any serious young people naive enough to insist that no one over thirty ever said anything relevant to the feelings of the present generation, someone needs to remind them that they are rejecting the only means that will make their aim of cultural reconstruction possible. At least the progressives' need of tradition should be on record. The trouble with most revolutions is that their initiators usually fail to recognize that the word implies a return to where one started (Charles II replaces Cromwell; Louis XVIII, Napoleon;