The Victorian Cult Of Shakespeare
For most of the 1700s, Shakespeare was considered a very good playwright. But in the 1800s, and especially during the Victorian period, Shakespeare became a prophet. Ministers began drawing their lessons from his texts. Scholars wrote books about the scriptural resonances of his words—often while taking those words out of context. Shakespeare’s works, the Victorians believed, offered religious revelations.
In his new book, "The Victorian Cult of Shakespeare: Bardology in the Nineteenth Century," University of Washington Associate Professor of English Charles LaPorte examines this moment in literary and religious history. We invited him to join us on the podcast to tell us how people in the 19th century thought about Shakespeare, how the moment helped give rise to the “authorship controversy,” and how sometimes, even today, we read Shakespeare like the Victorians. LaPorte is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.
"The Victorian Cult of Shakespeare: Bardology in the Nineteenth Century" was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. Dr. Charles LaPorte's previous book, "Victorian Poets and the Changing Bible," was named Best First Book in Victorian Studies by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association in 2011.
From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published November 24, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “I Am No Thing To Thank God On,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer, with help from Leonor Fernandez. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.