Magazine
Latest Issue

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…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect