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“Unlike most sensitive people, he did not spend his time nursing his own sensitivities; instead he used them as a means to find his way into the hearts and minds of others.”

This books is part of a trilogy devoted to the foremost among the older English poets: Milton, Chaucer and, here, Shakespeare.

Many, if not most, Shakespearean scholars have despaired of moving beyond the poet’s so-called objectivity to get at the man himself. Drawing upon the known facts of Shakespeare’s life, the writings of his contemporaries, and, above all, his immortal works, the distinguished scholar and critic Edward Wagenknecht establishes that Shakespeare was “an extraordinarily sensitive man” who “used his sensitivities to find his way into the hearts and minds of others.”

Shakespeare had, moreover, a warm, genial, and sunny imagination; he wrote more comedies than tragedies or histories. He was also a private person who “kept the citadel of his personality untouched.” His conclusion is that “there is nobody in secular history at least to whom we owe more than we do to Shakespeare”, fine praise indeed for a praiseworthy man.

Wagenknecht’s work quotes from many of Shakespeare’s characters, into whose mouths the playwright feeds his view of the world: its people, religions, organisations, ethics and morals.

There are also two appendices written by other critics of Shakespeare, further illuminating the life and times of the bard.

Edward Wagenknecht (1900-2004) was a prolific writer of books about literary and other celebrated figures of British and American culture. His subjects included Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Marilyn Monroe and John Milton.

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