Shakespeare the Thinker by A D Nuttall; Shakespeare Revealed: A Biography by René Weis - review by A C Grayling

A C Grayling

Passion & Possibility

Shakespeare the Thinker


Yale University Press 428pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

Shakespeare Revealed: A Biography


John Murray 444pp £25 order from our bookshop

It is often enough observed how mysterious is the phenomenon of genius, even if we no longer think the word denotes a creature who sits on poets’ shoulders and whispers messages from the Muses into their ears. It is one thing to accept that some people can be stunningly inventive and clever, another to fathom the nature of the gifts that make them so. But in the case of Shakespeare, familiarly, all resources fail: here was an individual whose capacities and achievement literally transcend explanation. 

Some perhaps grow weary of the pieties collectively indulged about Shakespeare, until they re-read him and are electrified all over again by the language he uses, the insights it conveys, the universality of understanding and sympathy that informs the insights, and the vaulting power of imagination that drives all. But

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