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Shakespeare’s answer to the plague? More sex and comedy

Rather than the nihilistic King Lear, we should turn to the playful Venus and Adonis during lockdown

By Emma Smith   June 2020
Venus and Adonis by Titian Credit: Wikimedia commons

Venus and Adonis by Titian Credit: Wikimedia commons

It says something about the apocalyptic tone of lockdown that the go-to literary text has been King Lear. Tweets admonishing us to be more like Shakespeare and use this unexpected time productively—the playwright possibly wrote Lear during quarantine in 1606—expanded into numerous articles about the relation between plague and creativity. That Shakespeare’s bleakest play seemed to be born of disaster corroborated our implicit sense that tragedy is the inevitable aesthetic response to human mortality. But…

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