Sunday, April 23, 2006

Lorrie Moore’s shout-out to “The Modern Elizabethan”

Half the Op-Ed page in the Sunday NYT was filled by Lorrie Moore's signature combination of wit and feeling -- her birthday bouquet to the Bard, who had just turned 442.
Though many people have tried to insist that Shakespeare must have been a secret guild of theatricals, or the Earl of Oxford, or Sir Walter Raleigh, or some other person of education and rank ("How about the theory that Shakespeare is really Cliff Robertson?" joked a friend of mine), there is no doubt the man existed. Those who are still skeptical may be the same people who, generally pessimistic about human ability, insist that the pyramids were built by space aliens, or that Joyce Carol Oates is really a committee of middle-aged men. Or else they are the same elitists who think things like the roots of rock 'n' roll are actually white.
Summing up Shakespeare in half a page of newsprint is a tough assignment, but Moore gives it her best shot, with the help of some serious name-dropping (Dickens, Puccini, Edith Wharton, Ogden Nash, Tim Burton, Alice Munro, and Joni Mitchell, among others).

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