231. (Erich Auerbach)

Not only can be it said that art happens in history, but that history happens within each work of art. Art is kindled when the possibilities for body in history are realized within a medium and form, situated within its own history; and history itself is change, ordered, conceptualized, projected forwards and backwards. To say that humans are historical creatures is no different from saying … Continue reading 231. (Erich Auerbach)

199. (William Shakespeare)

As You Like It perplexes for many reasons, not least of which is a disproportionate structure, whose warps and excrescences are exemplified by the sudden interruption of Touchstone into the final scene: TOUCHSTONE Faith, we met, and found the quarrel was upon the seventh cause. JAQUES How seventh cause? Good my lord, like this fellow. DUKE SENIOR I like him very well. TOUCHSTONE God ‘ild … Continue reading 199. (William Shakespeare)

189. (William Shakespeare)

The experiences of time, from its swelling (the remove from the court in As You Like It) and contracting time (Richard II; Macbeth), of time bandying the lives of characters (early comedies), of characters clearing space in the determined march of history (Falstaff), suggests that Shakespeare’s openness to a variety of individuals and passions can be conceived as an imaginative openness and sensitivity to time, not as … Continue reading 189. (William Shakespeare)

188. (William Shakespeare)

Many of Shakespeare’s plays involve a recurring movement or transformation, which I will describe in terms that are broadly metaphysical and mostly instinctive. Backing them up, explaining them, might happen in some later posts. For now, I’ll set out the nature of the shift. The transformation happens in the plays when the superfluous is recognized to be irreplaceable. Or rather, that recognition happens in the … Continue reading 188. (William Shakespeare)

187. (Charles Williams)

When anyone remembers Charles Williams these days, it is probably for one of two reasons. Either they know of Williams through his association with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. He was a brief but dazzling member of the Inklings and features centrally in the enjoyable recent biography of that group, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings by Philip and Carol Zaleski. Otherwise, they know of Williams … Continue reading 187. (Charles Williams)

177. (William Shakespeare)

A second in a series of what seem a “redundant discoveries of obvious value,” this post can claim nothing novel about Shakespeare’s sonnets, but will instead serve as a memorandum of the summer’s gradual realization of just how they tower. They had always, in my encounters with critics and devotees, either excuses for ingenious but tiresome exercises in dextrous ambiguity hunting expeditions, or else as the province … Continue reading 177. (William Shakespeare)

171. (T.S. Eliot)

  Among Eliot’s staunchest and nimblest readers, Christopher Ricks was unrelenting in his 1978 attack on Eliot’s late essay, “What is Minor Poetry?”  I offer first a series of quotations from Ricks’ piece, published in Ploughshares: Eliot is probably the only important critic who has bent himself to—or on—the distinction between major and minor, and yet even this master of elusiveness found himself out-eluded. For his … Continue reading 171. (T.S. Eliot)