Jack Lynch having vs. being genius..

Jack Lynch’s lecture last night was highly insightful and gave me an ample amount of information I hadn’t before considered. He specified how biographies on Shakespeare’s personal life over the years have frequently “escalated embellishment” of certain details, making the actual facts a bit ambiguous. It was interesting to learn that around the time of Shakespeare’s work the word “genius” was being redefined. Earlier it was considered a spirit or force that lived in the walls and would visit or inhabit the artist. The artist would have been said to have genius, which changed to him/her being a genius. Whether or not Shakespeare is considered to be directly responsible for the change is uncertain, or may just have gone over my head during the lecture, but such a redefinition changes the level of responsibility or pressure on an artist. Knowing that there is an inspirational external force called genius allows him/her to simply do the best they can, only hoping that a little help comes along the way. Shakespeare’s work was so innovative, however, that he must have been a genius and must have embodied the very spirit through his exceptional, unique abilities. I loved Prof. Lynch’s description of the “Shakespeare sized hole” in the cultural conscience that we decided to call genius once he [Shakespeare] fulfilled it. The question is whether or not we can understand a man of Shakespeare’s stature without looking at his body of work in the context of his life. Do the details of his day-to-day activities and habits really affect the way we read his work? In my opinion it at least partially does and going back to the beginning of the semester when we read “Will in the World” by Stephen Greenblatt, his insight on Shakespeare possibly “reflecting on the source of his own marital unhappiness” by barely including, in his comedies, a “single pair of lovers who seem deeply, inwardly suited for one another” (124,136). These types of details allow access to his mind and motivations as he was writing these classics. We can’t help but ask the question of how his personal life affected his collected works because of how thematically broad they are and how revolutionary his style was. I want to read Prof. Lynch’s studies of plagiarism and intellectual property to see whether or not he tackles the redefinition of genius and also of originality during the time of Shakespeare and how this pertains to the sense of ownership that a writer has over his creation. 


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