The Portable Shakespearernby George GarrettrnNothing new here, really. Nothing that hasn’t been hashedrnand rehashed by my betters, the true scholars and criticsrnwhose faithful quest for knowledge has sometimes ended inrnearned wisdom for all of us. Sometimes not…. Anyway, somernthings, old and new, arc worth saying again (and again), indeedrnmust be said even at the risk of repetition and redundancy.rnShakespeare can take it, will survive it as his art has survived hisrnown age and the ages afterward during which, each accordingrnto his own limits and follies, our ghosdy forefathers have managedrnto misread and to misperform and to misinterpret hisrnworks and words without doing, even at their worst, more thanrndenting damage.rnWorst of all, of course, are our own. We have been able,rnthanks to theoretical trickery, to ignore the substance of hisrnwork in favor of the comforting assumption that neither the author’srntext nor his intent and meaning mean anything or matterrnmuch, if at all. Fuss and fume and argue as they will, in Fishrnponds or at the Gates of Harvard, they cannot quite get aroundrnthe undeniable tact that he is still what he has been—our language’srnleading poet. But what is a poet, major or minor, whenrncompared to any run-of-the-mill, end-of-the-century theoristrneager to expound the latest, tedious, simpleminded theories ofrnrace, sex, gender, class, ethnicity and … whatever? Still, Shakespearernlived on, basicalh’ unharmed, through the revolutionaryrn17th century, the sa’age rationality of the 18th, sur’i’ed Darwinrnand Marx and Freud in the 19th, and gives every indicationrnGeorge Garrett is Henry Hoyns Professor of English at thernUniversity of Virginia and author, most recently, of the novelrnThe King of Babylon Shall Not Come Against You (IlarcourtrnBrace & Gompany).rnof ouriasting the manifestos of Stanley Fish or Richard Rorty orrnNorman O. Brown or. . . whoever.rnAnd there is much that we need to be reminded of and tornconsider. That (to borrow imm Mark Van Doren) it cannotrnhave been difficult for him to write his plays. It was easy for himrnor he would not have done it and done it so well. That, as hernwrote his plays and, more important for him, produced and actedrnin them, he couldn’t possiblv have believed that he was writingrnfor future ages. True, he had high hopes for his sonnets andrnthe other literary poems, hoped and may have believed, as hernseems to, that they would last a while, maybe even outlast him.rnBut the plavs were, with all due respect, expendable. That othersrnthought otherwise and after his death went to the expensernand trouble to collect his work in the first folio only serves tornemphasize the ephemerality of plays in the literary scene. Hernseems to have written his plays (and, oh yes, he wrote them, nobodyrnelse, no serious question about that) to help the companyrnof players of which he was an important stockholder and a playerrnof distinction. The money, the real money that he was afterrnand earned, the money that allowed him to be, even in a freewheelingrnage, astonishingly “upwardly mobile,” moving (as thernmyth has it and is probably accurate enough) from the raggedyrnfringes of things, to player and shareholder and, finally, able torncall himself a certified gentleman, crest and all, able to be arnlandowner in and around Stratford, owner, among other things,rnof the best house in town. New Place, with its gardens and itsrnten taxable fireplaces. Lived simply and cheaply in London, asrnbest we can tell from this and that, eleady saving his money, asrnmuch as he could (and at times it was very good money, indeed)rnfor the goal that he realized, coming home to Stratford tornlive under one roof with his vife and children and kinfolk. Andrn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn