Perilous Waters


Cast Iron William Shakespeare Bookends by Bradley & Hubbard (LEO Design)

In recent weeks, Shakespeare has been called-out for having been insensitive to important issues of racial injustice, White privilege and colonial oppression.  British academics are reviewing The Bard's works to highlight the offensive language—and to adapt that which can be saved and cancel that which is unredeemable. 

I am not writing an essay on cancel culture.  But I'd hate to see Shakespeare revoked.  Let me make six quick points:

1. Shakespeare died in 1616, even before the first enslaved people were transferred to America.

2. Yes, the world was racist 400 years ago.  It still is.

3. Shakespeare's brilliance is his illustration of human nature, character and storylines—the heroic and the horrible.  Racism, misogyny, homophobia and a range of other bigotries are presented in Shakespeare's human characters because these bigotries are a sad part of human nature (and still are).

4. Shakespeare's oeuvre is so broad, deep and universal that it lends itself to clever modern adaptations which artfully change the period, place and settings—and still (sometimes) remain poignant or even expand our understanding of the material.  Color-blind casting often works well in Shakespeare.  And the material is so rich that smart directors are able to pull-out embedded "nuggets of thought" and shine a light on them—thus educating us all.

5. To cancel Shakespeare would mean a loss to all people who wish to understand human nature.

6. I love Shakespeare bookends (as I love The Bard) and do not wish to hide them from the public.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.


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