I believe in broken, fractured, complicated narratives, but I believe in narratives as a vehicle for truth, not simply as a form of entertainment, though I love entertainment, but also a way of conveying what needs to be conveyed about the works that I care about.
I wanted to hold onto and exploit the power of narrative. This is not only a book about a great storyteller, but there have to be stories about the storyteller.
What we know is that Shakespeare wrote perhaps the most remarkable body of passionate love poetry in the English language to a young man.
First of all, there was a volcano of words, an eruption of words that Shakespeare had never used before that had never been used in the English language before. It's astonishing. It pours out of him.
I believe that it is a whole lifetime of work on Shakespeare's part that enabled him to do what he did. But the question is how you can explain this whole lifetime in such a way to make it accessible and available to us, to me.
But I never listen to music while I'm writing.
I think the writing of literature should give pleasure. What else should it be about? It is not nuclear physics. It actually has to give pleasure or it is worth nothing.
What I wanted to do was to get that sense of being in touch with this lost world while holding onto what draws readers and audiences there in the first place.
I've been at this for 40 years. And, as an academic, I've been content with relatively small audiences, with the thought that the audience I long for will find its way eventually to what I have written, provided that what I have written is good enough.