Lear's Shadow: Shakespeare and the Modern World

An Interview with James Shapiro

William Shakespeare is rightly regarded as the greatest playwright of the English language. And King Lear, his searing meditation on family, political life, and sanity, is perhaps his crowning work. Renowned Shakespeare expert James Shapiro here explains its power and reveals that the Bard was also a brilliant businessman and a commercial creator with his finger on the pulse of his age. His work demands to be seen, not read, says Shapiro. The 400th anniversary of his death this year offers tremendous opportunities to do just that.

Octavian Report: What sparked your interest in Shakespeare?

James Shapiro: It’s probably easier to say what first turned me off of Shakespeare. I went to high school in Brooklyn in the early 1970s and, like many others, was force-fed Shakespeare in a …

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