Monday, November 18, 2013

Why Shakespeare? by Vanessa Pupavac

In Huxley’s Brave New World Shakespeare’s works have become banned books. In the words of the Controller of the Brave New World: ‘civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency’.
Shakespeare is at the heart of the argument between the Controller and the Savage critic of the novel. The Controller argues that none of Shakespeare’s heroes would have had to suffer at the hands of fate. Instead they could sit back in a pneumatic chair with a girl and enjoy watching ‘the feelies’: ‘All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconveniences’.
So what matters about Shakespeare and great literature?
Essentially the creative arts epitomise our humanity as individual beings with the capacity to imagine and create a human world beyond biological determinism. The literary critic FR Leavis argued:
What for – what ultimately for?’ is implicitly asked in all the greatest art, from which we get, not what we are likely to call an ‘answer’ but the communication of a felt significance; something that confirms our sense of life as more than a mere linear succession of days, a matter of time as measured by the clock.
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