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What Would Shakespeare Do?

In a letter to his brothers, Keats expressed admiration for what he called Negative Capabilty:

"I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, on various subjects; several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason."

(Thank you,Wikipedia).

The modern interpetation of Keat's idea seems to be that the poet (or playwright) negates his/her own persona to inhabit that of the character. This is probably a good thing for a playwright. Certainly one can wander forever through Shakespeare looking for him in his characters.

But I don't think that's what Keats was getting at. I think he meant that sometimes art is messy. You can't quite pin it down; it keeps shifting. And not in a postmodern way, in the act of interpretation (or lack thereof), but in an epistemoligical or even ontological way, in that you are trying to say something that can't yet be said. Or maybe it's the recognition that world is messy and can't be contained by ordered Aristotlean unities.

I have been thinking about negative capability recently, because I am considering writing a follow-on book to my novel The Marriage of True Minds. At the end of the book, my principal characters are facing one another at a lakeshore, one kneeling on the water proclaiming his love for the other.

Apparently some readers would like to know what happens to these characters. I know this because they have asked me, or complained to me. I think it's great that they care. And honestly, I'm fond of these characters. So I would to like to know myself what happens next. And the only way to know is to write it. Right?

But I also like thinking of them there, suspended forever at that lake, in that moment. That uncertainty, that Mystery, seems right. Seems true, to them, and to me.

But do I have the negative capability to leave them there?

What would Shakespeare do?

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Maybe Even Signed

I think Shakespeare would move on to something new.

However, I do like the story about the famous Shakespeare scholar who had  spent his life delving into every aspect of the Bard's life.

He was asked if there was one thing about Shakespeare he would like to find. He replied that he would like to be grubbing through some dusty, secondhand bookstore and come across a copy of Love's Labour's Found.

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Love's Labour's Found.

Except it was sucked into another dimension along with an army of witches as Shakespeare banished them with his masterful prose!

...I watch too much Doctor Who, don't I?

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Moving On

Probably he would. Then again there is Merry Wives of Windsor. Henry IV part II. Henry VI  Part III.

I think there is a cache of manuscripts in his handwriting somewhere waiting to be discovered. Maybe by Dr. Who in another dimension.

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Couplets and Capulets

To leave the situation in The Marriage of True Minds perpetually suspended will confer more poignancy and punch.

The rest is silence.

However, a "Dynasty-type" saga about the Montagues and Capulets could run and run. The first volume has been going for four hundred years or so.

So that's my wisdom, gracious Steve,

Sit down and weave this very eve!

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You reminded me of what Jane

You reminded me of what Jane Austen did for her family after the publication of Preide and Prejudice--continue to tell them the story of Darcy and Lizzie.  Her nephew wrote about her talks about these characters, but I, for one, am glad that she let them live for me in my imagination.  She gives us a bit of history before the novel ends, but the rest, for me, is in my head.

I would say, leave that poignant moment there.  And find another story that will have questions in it to tell next.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Thanks for the Advice!

The first book took eight years start to finish, so I guess I  have some time to think it through.