Dinner with Shakespeare

Supposed you were given the opportunity, through some metaphysical event, to have dinner with William Shakespeare. Would you?

I know many people who would say, without even needing to think about it, “Hell yes!” After all, a conversation with the greatest writer in the history of the English language is a sort of dream come true.

But what if Shakespeare, the actual person, were to end up deviating dramatically from Shakespeare the written presence? What if he should turn out to be boorish — or even worse, boring?

Would you rather know this, or would you regret having discovered such an uncomfortable truth? Would you end up wishing that your dreams of greatness had remained forever unsullied?

I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer to this question. Yet I suspect that how you choose to answer this question might say a lot about your particular view of reality.

3 thoughts on “Dinner with Shakespeare”

  1. As someone who works with a lot of artists for a living, I can assure you that meeting an artist, especially when they’re not “on” (i.e. in “meeting fans” mode) is practically never anything like you imagine it’s going to be based on their artistic output.

    Isaac Asimov even wrote a short story about this, “The Immortal Bard.”

  2. Good point. Although to be fair, Asimov’s story wasn’t about any shortcoming on the part of Shakespeare, but rather on the part of Shakespeareans.

  3. Something that comes to mind is M’s disillusion with meeting the Duchess in “In Search of Lost Time.” It generally holds that even when our dreams meet reality, they translate in a slightly misaligned way, and thus inevitably cause a sense of disappointment at not having met our expectations entirely. If I met him and thought him boring, that is not because he IS intrinsically so, it’s because my expectation have set up the case such that who he really is translates to what I associate with boring. I am trying to hold reality up to the standards of my own illusions (or conditions of my mind). Being able to recognize that might allow me, to let go of of the image of him I have created in my head for the moment, in order to allow myself to see what new image forms. If I successfully do that, I could be able to hold on to the Shakespeare of my dreams, as a combination of the impressions I have gained from fragments of him in his writing, while also coming into human contact with the source.
    The goal is to stop myself from thinking in categories and recognize that even the meeting of the actual Shakespeare won’t reveal to me all that he is, but will show me something of him I could not know otherwise, whatever that may be.

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