Nashville teacher can’t pin Shakespeare down on religion

Posted by Kendall Harmon

William Shakespeare left no diary.

He inspired no tell-all biographer during his day. He wrote 36 plays (more or less) during a seething period of political convulsion and religious intrigue, but we know neither his politics nor his religion. Was he easy-going Anglican, closet Catholic, flashy atheist, space alien? Will won't tell. This radiant anti-celebrity Englishman eludes us still.

Nashvillian Chris Hassel has puzzled over Shakespeare's poker-faced religion his entire teaching career. Short of outing Shakespeare as heretic, choirboy or druid, Hassel has produced a 455-page dictionary of every religious reference in Shakespeare he can find, more than 1,000 words scrutinized.

"I've never been able to pin him down," says Hassel, who taught Shakespeare 35 years at Vanderbilt until retirement in 2003.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture

Posted August 26, 2007 at 1:40 pm

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1. Craig Stephans wrote:

I was interested in the religous/spiritual themes of Shakespeare’s plays and ended up writing a book, “Shakespeare on Spirituality: Life-changing Wisdom from Shakespeare’s Plays.”  It was a great learning experience for me to study the spiritual themes in his plays.  It is available on Amazon if anyone is interested in it.

August 26, 2:15 pm | [comment link]
2. RazorbackPadre wrote:

<more than 1,000 words scrutinized. “I’ve never been able to pin him down,” says Hassel,>

Sounds very Episcopalian to me.

August 27, 6:00 am | [comment link]
3. Terry Tee wrote:

I think the recent book by Clare Asquith Shadowplay and the older work by Peter Milward Shakespeare’s Religious Background make a convincing case for his Catholic sympathies.

August 27, 8:51 am | [comment link]

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