Thursday, April 07, 2005

Shakespeare the man vs the world of his writing

I blogged for ITC on a comment made by Christine Nehring about Shakespeare

"Shakespeare is a biographer's nightmare. Not because the information about him is so overwhelming or incriminating but because it is so slight and so stubbornly innocuous. We forgive our great poets almost anything -- suicide (Sylvia Plath), homicide (Ben Jonson), incest (William Wordsworth), hubris (Oscar Wilde), drunkenness (Edgar Allen Poe), insanity (Friedrich Nietzsche), sexual excess of every description (Byron, Shelley, Houellebecq -- who not?). What we are loath to forgive is quiet respectability."

Christine is certainly a clever writer. But I had to respond by asking what it is that we would want to be remembered for ...

Today I have gone back to the original article to get some more context. And there is some more information available about Shakespeare, it seems, though very little. It paints a picture of a man given to a great deal of control and moral rectitude.

"This was not a man who left much to accident. This was not a man whom but for the capacious and shockingly imaginative plays that he left behind we would ever take for a free spirit."

I wonder how often the personality of the writer is the same as the material they write. For many writers, you and me, right up to the published authors, writing is a chance to escape into fantasies and imagination, to create other worlds. And how many internet romances fizzle because the world of writing doesn't always accurately reflect the world of the writer? And Shakespeare's ability to leave little to accident produced some of the world's best literature. Thankyou Shakespeare, whoever you were.
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