Shakespeare and the ‘Long Arras’
The allusion to The Tempest—‘the stuff poets may be noted as made of”3—like those to The Merchant of Venice in the musings on the American War of Independence (The American Scene 570), are part of a general tendency James developed for recruiting Shakespeare in the proximity of the unutterable. What James construed as the unassailable enigma of Shakespeare’s life and work evolved into a necessary constituent of the grammar of obscurity and secrecy that generated his fiction and shaped his personal anxieties about the possibility of present and posthumous forms of exposure.
but he is before us as a new, a confounding and superseding example altogether, an unprecedented image, formed to resist erosion by time or vulgarisation by reference, of quickened possibilities, finer ones than ever before, in the stuff poets may be noted as made of. (Preface, Letters from America 749)
KeywordsPrivate Life Private Part Heterosexual Marriage American Scene Early Republican
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