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The Portable Shakespeare

Nothing new here, really. Nothing that hasn't been hashed and rehashed by my betters, the true scholars and critics whose faithful quest for knowledge has sometimes ended in earned wisdom for all of us. Sometimes not. . . . Anyway, some things, old and new, are worth saying again (and again), indeed must be said even at the risk of repetition and redundancy. Shakespeare can take it, will survive it as his art has survived his own age and the ages afterward during which, each according to his own limits and follies, our ghostly forefathers have managed to misread and to misperform and to misinterpret his works and words without doing, even at their worst, more than denting damage.

Worst of all, of course, are our own. We have been able, thanks to theoretical trickery, to ignore the substance of his work in favor of the comforting assumption that neither the author's text nor his intent and meaning mean anything or matter much, if at all. Fuss and fume and argue as they will, in Fish ponds or at the Gates of Harvard, they cannot quite get around the undeniable tact that he is still what he has been—our language's leading poet. But what is a poet, major or minor, when compared to any run-of-the-mill, end-of-the-century theorist eager to expound the latest, tedious, simpleminded theories of race, sex, gender, class, ethnicity and . . . whatever? Still, Shakespeare lived on, basically unharmed, through the revolutionary...

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