Dr. Johnson thought it necessary to play an apology for Shakespeare's magic; - in which he says, "A poet, who should now make the whole action of his tragedy depend upon enchantment, and produce the chief events by the assistance of supernatural agents, would be censured as transgressing the bounds of probability, be banished from the theatre to the nursery, and condemned to write fairy tales instead of tragedies." He then proceeds to defend this transgression upon the ground of the credulity of the poet's age; when "the scenes of enchantment, however they may be now ridiculed, were both by himself and his audience thought awful and affecting." By whom, or when (always excepting French criticism), these sublime conceptions were in danger of ridicule, he has not told us; and I sadly fear that this superfluous apology arose from the misgivings of the great critic's mind. Schlegel has justly remarked that, "Whether the age of Shakespeare still believed in witchcraft and ghosts, is a matter of perfect indifference for the justification of the use which, in Hamlet and Macbeth, he has made of pre-existing traditions. No superstition can ever be prevalent and widely diffused through ages and nations without having a foundation in human nature: on this foundation the poet builds; he calls up from their hidden abysses that dread of the unknown, that presage of a dark side of nature, and a world of spirits which philosophy now imagines it has altogether exploded. In this manner he is in some degree both the portrayer and the philosopher of a superstition; that is, not the philosopher who denies and turns into ridicule, but, which is still more difficult, who distinctly exhibits its origin to us in apparently irrational and yet natural opinions." - In another place the same admirable critic says - "Since The Furies of Ęschylus, nothing so grand and terrible has ever been composed: The Witches, it is true, are not divine Eumenides, and are not intended to be so: they are ignoble and vulgar instruments of hell.
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William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, the authorship of some of which is uncertain. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613.
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Book Description Signet Classics, 1963. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110451511476