One does not need to be a new historicist to see how much Shakespeare's plays are enriched by a knowledge of their context nor a Marxist to see that it is undesirable to attempt to divorce them from it. I understand why a Westminster beak should assume that Shakespeare is an Elizabethan, but it would be unwise to ignore his Jacobean plays.
One needs no more and no less knowledge of religion to understand both Measure for Measure and the Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity; Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes are deeply personal poems and Lycidas and Comus contain passages of lyrical delight accessible to most readers without the use of extensive footnotes.
If that Old Westminster John Marenbon wishes to strengthen the country's English syllabuses with the products of a Pauline, Cantabrigian and European educated mind he has my support.
Head of English
The Milton Building
St Paul's School
16 DecemberReuse content