shake faceInexplicably I find myself interested again in the William Shakespeare authorship controversy, specifically in finding out who the real author was of what we call the Shakespeare Plays and Sonnets.

But fear not, this post is not about the authorship controversy. It’s about why I’m interested in it.

The Shakespeare mystery is a kind of Cold Case File, an ongoing investigation, hundreds of years old, one that hardly makes front page news these days or even back page news in the general press. And yet I find myself drawn to it again with deepening interest.

Why, I wonder. Why have I come back to a part of my life, my College English Esoteric (even pretentious) Literary Self with such fascination?

Who was that person I once was? Where is that person inside of me? Where has he been for nearly thirty years? How long will he stay?

Among other things, Shakespeare (whoever he/she was) is credited with inventing our modern perception of ourselves. Yes, I mean exactly that. The incalculable impact of his, or her, body of work has rarified and illuminated the very image and cognition of who we are.

I was midway through what is regarded as the definitive book on the Shakespeare controversy this week called The Mysterious William Shakespeare by Charlton Ogburn when the author made an astounding leap of insight…

Shakespeare did not simply discover us to ourselves but brought into being what was not there before. He gave us emotions to feel, a race of men and women to perceive, and a world of nature to be in, richer than we should otherwise have known, which he evoked with Prospero’s magic.

In other words, he created who we have become in the modern world. We need not have read a single line of Hamlet nor of Romeo & Juliet nor of King Lear nor anything else to have been “created” in this way. It is our culture itself, indeed the world’s culture, that has over the past 400 years imbued itself with the essence of Shakespeare’s creations and world view.

So who are we? And why are we?

ProsperoAre we simply such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life rounded with a sleep?

Yes, surely we are that, yet surely we are more. Somewhere inside of us there is all of us, all of Shakespeare’s characters hiding there.

In 1970, Nettie and I married and became husband and wife, then we became parents. We are still that, husband and wife and parents. We were and are also writer and artist.

In 2005, we moved to St. Thomas and we became sailors. Last year, we became golfers. The year before that I took up fishing again and became a fisherman.

Now the past rises and I embrace once more the student whose fascination with literature at the age of nineteen emerged as if from nowhere to pull me out of my reckless life and consume him.

It seems the journey is not of our making and yet it makes us. We lose the path in the brambles and then it finds us once more.

Hogwash and poppycock? Absurdity and platitudes? Sophomoric philosophizing? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Rose On Wood BWCall it what you will, identify it how you wish, find Shakespeare in whomever you want, but know that the rose by any other name would still smell as sweet…

…and I intend to inhale of it deeply.

 

 

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