Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 529. Monday, 6 Sept. 1993.
Date: Sunday, 5 Sep 1993 00:01:40 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: Shakespeare's Politics
The recent debate over Wanamaker's Globe, particularly the entry from
> What Shakespeare 'was' (ie radical or conservative) is not knowable, and
> not really the issue here.
has led me to submit a query that relates to a work I'm undertaking.
A friend remarked that he had not been interested in Shakespeare until
very recently, and that interest began with a book that argued that the
bard was quite a political radical, seen against the backdrop of his time.
My friend had always thought him to be something of a cheerleader for the
crown, a political toady of the "bread and circuses" persuasion, which, for
him, rendered anything he wrote to be beneath serious consideration, except
as an example of "good writing."
Signally amazed by this point of view, I rejoined that Shakespeare's
political views were the last thing I considered important about the man,
inasmuch as what has allowed his work to endure four centuries has nothing
to do with its political correctness, and everything to do with the beauty
of his poetry, and his astonishing perception of the human condition.
Before I could draw another breath, my friend proposed that we collaborate
on a piece of theatre to debate this question, and that is the work I
If anyone would care to offer anything in this line, opinions, suggested
reading, whatever, I promise to steal shamelessly from it in holding up my
end of the bargain.