by Dennis Abrams
“If we wish to know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare.”
“If I say that Shakespeare is the greatest of intellects, I have said all concerning him. But there is more in Shakespeare’s intellect than we have yet seen. It is what I call unconscious intellect; there is more virtue in it than he himself is aware of.”
“Shakespeare is as much out of the category of eminent authors, as he is out of the crowd. He is inconceivably wise; the others, conceivably.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The answer to the question ‘Why Shakespeare?’ must be ‘Who else is there?’”
We’ve read Proust and enjoyed our trip In Search of Lost Time. We’ve explored the four major novels of Dostoevsky and experienced the shock of finding the intertwining of religious fervor and existentialism. But really, we’ve only reached the foothills. It’s time to begin our assault on the loftiest mountain in all of Western literature – the plays of William Shakespeare.
Publishing Perspectives is proud to announce the launch on October 13th of “The Play’s The Thing” a one year, roughly chronological exploration of the plays of William Shakespeare. Once again I’ll be leading the group as we explore his work from every angle possible: the plays themselves, the development of character (or what Harold Bloom would call “the invention of the human,” the ways that the plays have been interpreted (and misinterpreted) through the years, and the production history of each play, both on stage and on film.
Most of all, we’ll be tracing Shakespeare’s own development as a playwright, as we witness the playwright of the early comedies and histories become William Shakespeare, the man who, in just one fourteen month period wrote three of literature’s most towering works: King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. How is that even possible?
Harold Bloom elaborated on this question. “How could the same dramatist have written As You Like It and Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear, Twelfth Night and Macbeth? Yet even that is less enigmatic than wondering, how could anyone have composed Hamlet?”
I hope you’ll join us as we set out to find out.