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Stephen Greenblatt, Part 2 Of 2

series: Drexel Interview

air date: 5/15/14 11:00 AM

Stephen Greenblatt, John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University and winner of the 2011 National Book Award for non-fiction, is one of the world's foremost literary scholars and critics. He is credited with inventing the literary methodology known as The New Historicism. He is also the author of two bestselling works of literary history, the 2004 Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare and the 2011 The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, the work for which he received the National Book Award. In this, the second of a two-part interview, Greenblatt focuses on these two books. He notes how early discussions with the filmmaker Marc Norman resulted in Shakespeare in Love, written by Norman and Tom Stoppard, and inspired him to write his own speculative biography of Shakespeare. In Will in the World, he postulates, for example, that Shakespeare might have been a secret Catholic; he also notes historical events that might have led to the composition of The Merchant of Venice. His more recent book, The Swerve, covers the rediscovery in the 15th century of a work by the Roman philosopher and poet Lucretius. Lucretius's poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) put forth the idea that the world was made of atoms with no antecedent cause or eventual end to their continual movement and combination. In the book, Greenblatt traces the complicated route that leads from Lucretius to the world of Darwin, Einstein, and us.

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