Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 51. Friday, 7 Sep 1990.
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 90 07:40:53 EDT
Subject: strange bedfellows
Let me advocate devil's questions: apart from mere curiosity or a
minor historical point, what possibly could be the significance of
Shakespeare's marital relations? Could this matter somehow be or lead to
a literary question? Is there, just out of sight, sophisticated critical
theory to support bed-ridden investigations? And if so, is it appropriate
to an author who so successfully kept his ordinary self out of his writings?
To put it bluntly, have we nothing better to discuss?
Forgive my less than complete knowledge of Shakespeare's texts, for I
cannot recall that anywhere the poet gives us an excuse to ask about his
beds. With Ovid one at least has a few words tying him to Actaeon, one of
his characters in the Metamorphoses -- both of them, apparently, saw something
they shouldn't. With Milton you've got a closeness of ordinary life and art,
although the effect of this closeness is, I think, to make the point that
we all live sub specie aeternitatis.
Even when an author has dropped some clues to his or her ordinary life,
how should they be used if we are not to become frustrated peeping toms
on the best forgotten detritus of a life significant for its work? Oi,
Will, have you turned enough in your grave?