Thursday, July 15, 2010

Much Ado About Darwin

There is a quote you may have heard, attributed to Charles Darwin, where he claims that Shakespeare is "so intolerably dull, it nauseated me."  I researched this quote and found that what Darwin was really saying was that in his youth he loved Shakespeare, and was actually somewhat sad that as he grew older he no longer found enjoyment in those things he once enjoyed.

At the time I'd not seen the following quote, courtesy Mr. Shakespeare, via Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing:

But doth not the appetite alter? a man loves the meat
in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.
Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
 I love it.  He's like Nostradamus for what it means to be human.  You *will* do this, you *will* feel this way about it.

2 comments:

fustilarian said...

My initial reaction to that Darwin quote was 'This from a man who wrote a book called The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms... exciting stuff'...

Then I read on...
I like your Nostradamus analogy.

GeorgeD said...

Well, there are lots and lots of comments on works of literature out there that say a good deal about the commenting person, but nothing about the works they comment on (google 'Mark Twain - Jane Austen' for a classic sample of the kind). Darwin is just another sheep in the flock. But then, dealing with literary works was never Darwin's job.

In cases like this, I always fall back on the words of a great German Shakespeare fan of the 18th century (whose day job, astoundingly, was physics and math). "When a head and a book collide, and there is a hollow sound -- must that always be in the book?"

And thank you for quoting from my favorite Shakespeare play.