I attended the Jack Lynch lecture about Shakespeare and his life. The main point of this lecture was that in order to understand Shakespeare’s works, we must first understand his life and how it shaped the person he was and therefore the writer he was. What I found most interesting was that Lynch mentioned that Shakespeare was kind of a jerk, so a lot of the biographical information we have about him could be scholars who are trying to embellish his life story to fit around his aura of “genius”. Lynch mentioned that Shakespeare would hoard grain in times of widespread famine as an example of why he wasn’t exactly the Best Guy Around.
Lynch focused on Roe (hopefully I’m spelling his name correctly), explaining that he was the first to publish nearly every known fact about Shakespeare. He also noted that for nearly a century after, all biographies on Shakespeare were basically the same exact thing as Roe’s, they just had very minor embellishments, changes, or rewordings of the same anecdotes. It is so interesting that he could publish an extensive biography on someone who is so enigmatic to us. Lynch said that we could probably fit all of our authentic known facts about Shakespeare on a 3×5 index card. Even though we “know” more about Shakespeare than any other writer of his time, there is still so much mystery surrounding his life.
And we still find out new things as time goes on (whether or not they are always true remains ambiguous). For example, Lynch said that there is a rumored dictionary which is annotated by Shakespeare himself. This would be SO COOL, but he (Lynch) is very skeptical that it is authentic. It is awesome to think of Shakespeare looking at something as simple as a dictionary and rifling through different meanings of words, adding to them or manipulating them, and utilizing them to create his plethora of soliloquies and so on.