I'm reading The Shakespeare Wars by Ron Rosenbaum right now, and having trouble blogging about it because I'm finding something worthy of comment on every single page. I'm only on about page 20. I knew I was going to like this :).
Let me see if I can describe what the experience has been like so far. I have this picture in my head of a girl I knew in college. I don't know that she ever actually did what I'm about to describe, or if I'm just putting her in the situation because she seems like a natural. Anyway, I envision this girl reading a book, and she gets to a certain point where she stops, then she beams a bright smile and hugs the book tightly to herself, shaking back and forth like a 3yr old would hug their most beloved teddy bear. Then she goes back to reading.
Does that get the image across? It's a feeling of loving a book so much that you want to climb inside of it, to become a part of it or make it a part of you. It's not enough to read it and say "I really enjoyed that", or even to read it cover to cover in one sitting. It's about having a far more immediate and emotional need to connect with what you just read. There are times whenI feel that way about Shakespeare. And then there are times when I feel that way about people who are writing about Shakespeare.
To sum up the Shakespeare Wars, at least as far as I've read:
Shakespeare is awesome. No, seriously. He defies all previous descriptions of the word. I could keep repeating myself in different ways for all eternity and still not sufficiently get my point across. The man is infinite in his awesomeness. Now and forever, you will be able to discover something new about his genius that will make him...well, that much more awesome.
And it's at that point that you stop long enough to give the book a nice hug, and then read some more. Rosenbaum does like 10 pages alone on Bottom's awakening from his dream. Just that speech. Not the whole play, not even the whole scene, just that one speech. And he still manages to come away feeling like if he kept looking, he would find more to discover. And, at least to me, it never sounds boring.
That can certainly be a scary thing, this feeling that you will simply never know it all. But then, I think, we can go back to the old "glass half empty" cliche. You can revel in what you do know, and every time you gain more knowledge you can rejoice in the discovery. Or you can constantly look at the impenetrable darkness that is the abyss of the unknown and mope, "I'll never know if I'm right or wrong, so I'll just assume I'm wrong...."
Personally, I'll take the former.