The permanence of Shakespeare, four centuries on

 

It has been four hundred years since Shakespeare parted from life, yet his work stands timeless as ever, having amply passed every test that makes for a classic, first and foremost time, by the centuries now. His plays consecrate actors and frustrate writers, for writing after Shakespeare feels an imperfect repetition of what has already been said succinctly, and beautifully. Perhaps the key is in his rich ambiguity: “And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths” (from Macbeth). Many more books have been devoted to dissecting his writings, plays and sonnets than he ever wrote yet no secret has been discovered to his permanence other than the certainty that he had mastered what makes writing a classic, the demonstration that across the ages our soul responds to the same essential chords.

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