When we refuse to “budge an inch,” excoriate “rotten apples,” or admonish slackers to “sink or swim,” we speak in his voice. Although the arts sections of newspapers teem with products from self-anointed “artists” who will not survive their publicity budgets, Shakespeare after roughly four centuries still pleases general audiences, challenges intellectuals, and provokes academics. How can we not presume that such a stupendous orchestrator of character and insight operated with a coherent, multifaceted theory of human nature?
On the other hand, our ignorance of Shakespeare the man – he left no diaries or letters in his short life of some 52 years – and the clashing multiple versions of some of his texts, have always dovetailed with a contrary belief that his greatness arises precisely from utter openness to the varieties of human behavior, emotion and thought, his ability to render in concrete scenes and daring metaphors more non-reductionist nuances of the heart and mind than an army of writers centuries later.
This Shakespeare soars as the universal artist because his plays and poetry offer a kaleidoscope of the human condition while speculative bios, short on fact and long on inference, end up too dull an instrument to cut him down to size. He’s a channeler rather than a source of wisdom. —The readiness to deconstruct is all (Philadelphia Inquirer)
I wish this article had come out a week earlier… I would have discussed it in my Lit Crit class. (It’s still a good read.)