Friday, January 18, 2019

Splendid Sentences, Part 7: Harold Bloom on Shakespeare

"Nothing explains Shakespeare, or can explain him away." — Harold Bloom, Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? p. 99)

Now if ever a sentence is worth an entire essay, it is that one, and literary critic Harold Bloom does follow it with a treatise on The Bard of Avon's contributions to cultural history. 

What makes the sentence so pleasurable is its ambiguity. Are we about to read why nothing explains Shakespeare the man? Shakespeare the plays and poems? Shakespeare the legend? And what does Bloom mean by "explaining away" Shakespeare? Where Shakespeare stands in the pantheon of drama and poetry giants? How to position him in the history of English literature? Whether we should discount his status at the beginning and center of all English prose? Read the chapter "Cervantes and Shakespeare" to find out.

An important point to make here: While business and technical writers should avoid ambiguity in their messages, such is the stuff of great fiction, drama, and poetry. It is the mix of ambiguity and realism that inspires us readers to imagine ourselves as Don Quixote or Juliet Capulet as we experience the composer's words.

Read previous installments of "Splendid Sentences" on Words on the Line: