Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Hidden God | The New Republic

Struggling with the lack of Authority in Shakespeare's Authorship:
Stephen Greenblatt explained the root irony of the controversy in his Shakespearean Negotiations: Shakespeare’s plays brim with such intensity that it is difficult not to conflate their vitality with traces of the author’s vitality. But of course, as works of art, the plays were written “in full awareness of the absence of the life they contrive to represent.” That is, the plays are imbued with their own life precisely because a playwright knows their life will surpass his own. Even the retreat to “the text itself”—the rallying cry of all undergraduate English classes—is a similar fallacy: “The great attraction of [the text itself],” Greenblatt writes, “is that it appears to bind and fix the energies we prize, to identify a stable and permanent source of literary power, to offer an escape from shared contingency. This project, endlessly repeated, repeatedly fails for one reason: there is no escape from contingency.” Even for Shakespeare.