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April 20, 1964


JAMA. 1964;188(3):313-314. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060290117041

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For generations scholars have read Shakespeare with a microscopic eye, eager to find subtle relationships to other writers, to particular events, to historical characters. Medically interested historians have combed Shakespeare for every medical reference and interpreted these in light of the contemporary medical knowledge. Lawyers, churchmen, soldiers, merchants, and innumerable others have found their activities reflected by appropriate allusions. The breadth and accuracy of Shakespeare's observations are truly phenomenal, and can be appreciated only when we compare him with other dramatists, contemporary or subsequent.

Scholarly studies, while usually directed towards other scholars, can often interest the layman, can provide the casual modern reader with greater capacity for understanding. But books and articles about Shakespeare, however useful, can never substitute for reading Shakespeare. Apart from scholarly research activity, there is one good reason for reading him: he can give us profound enjoyment, the joy that only fine poetry and deep insight

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