Wednesday, August 22, 2018



(Jason Hirthler at Counter

"The hypocrisy and racism of American elites seems to have a depthless quality to it. The vast congeries of hysterical elitists hyperventilating over the phantom collusions of Donald Trump can now add a Shakespearean scholar to their sordid ranks. Trump has lately been limned–and slimed–in a book by Stephen Greenblatt, eminent scholar of the Bard, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, and The Norton Shakespeare. The Harvard luminary uncloaks his bourgeois liberalism in a freshly minted historical analysis, “Tyrant”, a sterling meditation on, you guessed it, tyrants in Shakespeare, of which there is no shortage.

What mars the narrative is Greenblatt’s tireless need to parallel the Bard’s historically ravenous seekers of power with the Pagliacci figure of Donald Trump. Rather than focus on comparing Trump to Sir John Falstaff, Shakespeare’s memorable fool from Henry the Fourth, Greenblatt gets serious. He leaves no page unturned in his overweening campaign to recast the president as a figure of terrible ambition rather than as a court jester in royal lineaments. As one Amazon reviewer wrote, “Greenblatt’s a smart man, but this is a book that sacrifices Shakespeare (and the nuanced personal and political insights of his work) to the pursuit of Trump.”

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