Friday, March 3, 2017

What NOT to ask in Shakespear studies (with some gratitude to CSL)

What influenced William Shakespeare to write?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
studied at Lund University
Written just now
  • 1) Are you God?
  • 2) Do you think I am God?

God knows what influenced any writer to write, so does, more often than not, the writer himself, and if the writer has told anything in his writings, so do the readers of those autobiographic passages.

Since Shakespear did NOT leave us with any autobiographic passages telling us what moved him to write, there is precisely and exactly ONE clue we do have, about one category of his writings. Of his plays we can assume he wrote to get them played and wanted to get them played to get money.

Enjoying his plays, either as seeing them or as reading them in books is a perfectly licit thing, we can gather also from some of his plays some of his attitudes (he was for teen freedom in marital choice as opposed to parents imposing their choice, he was against usury). Those few attitudes which we can safely tie to him are such as he certainly shared with millions who didn’t write.

Therefore YOUR question is, unlike reading or watching Shakespear, a very useless exercise.

God could certainly know and want to know, because it will be relevant on Judgement Day, when God is judging Shakespear. However, God does not need to ask anyone who is not God [and not Shakespear either] about it, at least not absolutely. He could do so for a Shakespearean dramatic effect on Judgement Day, though.

Since I am NOT God, I am NOT someone to ask what moved Shakespear to write, and if you want God’s answer, I suggest you stay tuned for Judgement Day.

If you pretend to be a literary critic or an English teacher of any kind, I suggest you do penance for doing a shoddy intellectual work and start doing some cleaning up in the exercises you ask of yourself or of others.

Never, ever again ask “what moved Shakespear to write” or “what moved Homer to write” (unless you are prepared to take the Muse seriously). You may ask “what moved Tolkien to write the Hobbit” since he told us. On a day when he was correcting exams (with questions which, if posed by him, which they probably weren’t, were more intelligent than yours) an exam he was correcting had left one paper unwritten, he was seeking relief from the boredom of correction and started writing “in a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit”. This we are told in his letters and in a biography by Humphrey Carpenter who had access to his materials and close ones. We have no parallel information about Shakespear.

PS 1 : I regret to say that the wrath provoked by the question moved me to write a bit badly. I have now corrected the third spelling mistake I made after posting the original answer on quora. "asbolutely", "anc" and "usuary", looking to see if the one with superfluous g is till around .../HGL

PS 2 : I spotted one "Shakeaspear" too. A question as badly put as above actually makes me want to shake a spear myself, sometimes!/HGL

PS 3 : Bonus question for readers with C. S. Lewis affinities : which essays, letters or other writings by CSL have I just expressed an absolute agreement with? Has he written or contributed to a monography or debate book on the subject? Leave a comment, if you like!/HGL

PS 4 : I just saw I had forgotten to activate link to quora, that is how angry I was when answering./HGL

PS 5 : AND forgot a part of the html, I just fixed./HGL

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