“Shakespeare was a master of double consciousness. He was a man who spent his money on a coat of arms but who mocked the pretentiousness of such a claim; a man who invested in real estate but who ridiculed in Hamlet precisely such an entrepreneur as he himself was; a man who spent his life and his deepest energies on the theater but who laughed at the theater and regretted making himself a show. Though Shakespeare seems to have recycled every word he ever encountered, every person he ever met, every experience he ever had—it is difficult otherwise to explain the enormous richness of his work—he contrived at the same time to hide himself from view, to ward off vulnerability, to forswear intimacy.”— Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (2004)
Countless biographers have attempted to explain who William Shakespeare was from the thinnest of materials, but there is no doubt, to quote his line from Henry V, that he seldom failed to reach “the brightest heaven of invention.” Today, we celebrate a man hard to extract from the thickets of his time—a master of masks and masques, a puppeteer of psychology, a magician who conjured up more than 1,700 of our common words today, forever transforming the English language.
If you want to really plumb all things Shakespearean, you might want to start with “The Shakespeare Blog.” (A blog by any other name…)