Literary works not severed from their human source

by Justine Schmiesing

I just plain disagree with Joanna Bratten’s idea that the effort to discover the true identity of Shakespeare is “an unnecessary invasion into the mysterious anonymity of the poet.” I do not think that it is wise to deliberately sever an author’s works from his biography. If one of the goals of literary criticism is to study human nature, aren’t works that are “judged on their merits alone” less valuable than those that are attached to real live human beings? It seems to me that if we are content to study the anonymous works alone we will learn as much about an oak tree as we can gather from a pile of its dead branches.

Justine (Franzonello, ‘93) Schmiesing