Recently I saw in The New York Review that Nabokov said by the end of his teenage years he had read Tolstoy, Shakespeare, and Flaubert in their native languages. I can’t really do anything productive with that, but I should consider myself privileged to be able to read just one of those authors.
So I think I’ll make another push on the Shakespeare I have yet to read. Measure for Measure reminded me of The Tempest, which also has a powerful figure guiding the characters to their deserts. Unlike The Tempest, though, that figure is not a sorcerer, and the sexual maneuvering of the characters and the sanctimony it arouses are distinctly hard to sympathize with. I’m not complaining. Though the highly arranged plot seems at odds with the anti-romantic actions of the characters, it’s an interesting ride.
You could say Titus Andronicus is an interesting ride, too. Surely this is Shakespeare’s bloodiest play; beyond that I’m not sure what the point is. Marlowe does this kind of thing with more panache in The Jew of Malta.