The Underground Shakespeare

By |2018-12-22T09:16:58-05:00December 21st, 2018|

Despite their obscurity, The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis were Shakespeare’s best-sellers. But why were these poems so wildly popular? In Shadowplay—her first book about the secret messages in Shakespeare’s plays—Clare Asquith explains what sparked first her imagination and then her research: In the early 1980s she and her husband attended a [...]

“Othello” and the Devil Inside

By |2018-11-17T22:38:30-05:00November 17th, 2018|

In Othello, William Shakespeare, the philosopher of everyday life, holds up a mirror to us and shows us what human beings are capable of. Beneath our most pleasantly cultivated exterior, there often lurks a serpent… William Hazlitt is widely recognized as one of the greatest of Shakespearean critics. Yes, there is Dr. Johnson; yes, [...]

Honor and Fame

By |2018-09-17T21:57:03-05:00September 17th, 2018|

Should honor and fame no longer be ends of ambition in such a world? The ancient philosophers doubted the ultimate merit of fame, but they also looked for the most spirited students, those most inclined to “undertake extensive and arduous enterprises"... In response to my essay about baptizing ambition, a friend from Boston College recommended [...]

Can Shakespeare Save Civilization?

By |2018-09-16T22:49:24-05:00September 15th, 2018|

Perhaps an apology might be necessary for the sheer audacity of beginning any essay with such a question and with such a seemingly absurd claim. Of course, Shakespeare cannot save civilization, at least not on his own. Perhaps we should rephrase things a little, asking a slightly different question: Can Civilization be Saved without Shakespeare? [...]

“Romeo & Juliet”: A Tragedy, Not a Romance

By |2018-07-14T08:12:35-05:00July 11th, 2018|

Seeing something noble in Romeo and Juliet’s self-obsessive and self-destructive passion is to see it with eyes that are blind to the moral that Shakespeare teaches… Romeo and Juliet is not the only Shakespeare play that the modern world, modern critics, and modern teachers get wrong. Truth be told, Shakespeare abuse is rampant. Just about [...]

Banning Shakespeare: Exposing the Haters of Humanity

By |2018-06-22T16:08:50-05:00June 15th, 2018|

What are we to make of the call to ban Shakespeare and other dead white men because they are dead? It is time that those who have declared a neo-racist war on humanity be named and shamed. It is time to unite in defence of the humanities in the knowledge that they show us [...]

The Nietzschean Shakespeare

By |2018-06-14T10:11:26-05:00June 13th, 2018|

Friedrich Nietzsche has no explanation for the process by which Christianity conquered Rome, by which the strong accepted the morality of the weak. When it comes to a depth of understanding of the development of Christianity, William Shakespeare is the true superman… Shakespeare’s Rome: Republic and Empire by Paul A. Cantor (University of Chicago Press, [...]

Shakespeare vs. The Puritans: The Malevolence of Malvolio

By |2019-01-22T12:17:58-05:00May 3rd, 2018|

A dark and malevolent aspect of the Puritans, which explains Shakespeare’s dark and malevolent portrayal of Malvolio, is the manner in which they were directly responsible for the persecution of England’s Catholics, including members of Shakespeare’s own family… If Shylock in The Merchant of Venice is a thinly-veiled Puritan (see my previous essay), so [...]

Shakespeare vs. The Puritans: Shylock and Usury

By |2018-04-28T00:47:19-05:00April 27th, 2018|

Usury was a hot topic in William Shakespeare’s day, and one which divided people on religious lines. It is interesting, therefore, that Shakespeare takes the Catholic side in the argument, as opposed to the Puritan position, a fact that surely heightens the possibility that Shylock is really a Puritan wearing a Jewish mask… In my [...]

Miasmic Misreadings: Exposing Shakespeare Abuse

By |2018-04-19T11:13:00-05:00April 19th, 2018|

To attempt to mould William Shakespeare into the image of what Evelyn Waugh called “our own deplorable epoch” is not merely absurd, it disqualifies those endeavouring to do so from being taken seriously as scholars or critics… There are few things more onerous in the field of literary criticism than the constant abuse of [...]

Harold Bloom: A Monster Among the Critics

By |2018-02-28T11:37:37-05:00February 22nd, 2018|

It is always a dangerous and potentially deadly error to consider the enemy of our enemies to be our friend, patting him on the back while he is stabbing us in ours. The truth is that Dr. Harold Bloom is himself a servant of dark forces, which are subtler by far than those politically-oriented [...]

Perpetrating a Freud on Sophocles and Shakespeare

By |2018-08-25T01:18:26-05:00January 27th, 2018|

After tainting Oedipus, Sigmund Freud goes even further in his defaming of virtuous characters in literature, dragging the noble Hamlet through the same ignoble mire of his smutty, sex-obsessed imagination… The ignorant pronounce it Frood, to cavil or applaud. The well-informed pronounce it Froyd, But I pronounce it Fraud. —G.K. Chesterton (“On Professor Freud”) Poor old [...]