I'm a little behind on this one, and sometimes it feels like all I do is recycle New Yorker articles and Arts & Letters Daily links in my Schrifts, but there are two first-rate articles on Shakespeare this week, one from Stephen Greenblatt's new book on W.S. (published in the NYT Magazine), and another by Adam Gopnik about Greenblatt's book in The New Yorker's review section.
Someday, I would like to be Stephen Greenblatt. Over his career, he's managed to combine historical erudition, theoretical sophistication, an acute and complex political sensibility, and a sharp eye for literary detail with a sharp, accessible style and a voice that's often disarmingly personal. He's a Harvard professor and onetime president of the MLA, but his books get reviewed by The New Yorker. Even more so than his colleague Louis Menand, he's managed to bridge academic culture with a sensitivity for the nonacademic public. While his writing isn't as good as Menand's (who's dying to be Edmund Wilson), for an academic, Greenblatt's prose is pretty damn sexy -- he's just dying to be Erich Auerbach, which is a different business altogether.