Appreciations & Asides Random notes and quotes on art, literature, and life, unedited and as we found them, from artists and critics whom we love: I don’t try to be prophetic, as I don’t sit down to write literature. It is simply this: a writer has to take all the risks of putting down what he sees. No one can tell him about that. No one can control that reality. It reminds me of something Pablo Picasso was supposed to have said to Gertrude Stein while he was painting her portrait. Gertrude said, “I don’t look like that.” And Picasso replied, “You will.” And he was right. —James Baldwin, “The Art of Fiction No. 78,” The Paris Review 1984. Remember the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare, that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, “Would he had blotted a thousand,” which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this but for their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to commend their friend by wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own candor, for I loved the man, and do honor his memory on this side idolatry as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature; had an excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expressions, wherein be flowed with that facility that sometime it was necessary he should be stopped. “Sufflaminandus erat,” [He should have been clogged] as Augustus said ofHaterius. His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so too. Many times he fell into those things, could not escape laughter, as when he said in the person of Caesar, one speaking to him: “Caesar, thou dost me wrong.” He replied: “Caesar did never wrong but with just cause;” and such like, which were ridiculous. But he redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned. —Ben Johnson, adapted from The HarvardClassics (1910), Vol. 27. Eliot tells us that the mystery ofHamlet is clarified if, instead of considering the entire action of the drama as being due to Shakespeare’s design, we see the tragedy as a sort of poorly made patchwork of previous tragic material…There are traces of a work by Thomas Kyd, which we know indirectly from other sources, in which the motive was only that of revenge; and the delay in taking revenge was caused only by the problem of assassinating a monarch surrounded by guards; moreover, Hamlet’s “madness” is feigned, the aim being to avert suspicion. In Shakespeare’s Page 10 - Nine Mile Magazine

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