Leo Hates Bill

“A month or so ago, This American Life host Ira Glass landed in hot water for casually tweeting “Shakespeare sucks.” Well, Glass deserved it; still, the backlash provoked a kind of counter-reaction in me. There’s more to say for Shakespeare, one hopes, than polite applause, and an audience with only that probably isn’t worthy of him.

Yet there is at least one person in the world whose robust hatred of Shakespeare cannot be so easily dismissed. Leo Tolstoy wrote more than once about how much he loathed the man’s work, and he dedicated a whole pamphlet to breaking down all the flaws in King Lear. These arguments are worth taking seriously—and there’s also something exhilarating about watching a man with a fully formed aesthetic sense claim to find Shakespeare, sacred as he is, utterly repulsive….”

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