An aural questionBMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c164 (Published 12 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c164
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Doctor Johnson once said that a man is seldom so innocently employed as when he is making money. He might have added: as when he is reading or writing Shakespeare criticism. What more harmless diversion could there be for the human intellect? Not, of course, that such criticism is always free of rancour, for what would scholarship be without the edge of enmity to spur it to ever higher flights of ingenious redundancy?
J Dover Wilson’s What Happens in Hamlet, published in 1935, is one of the most famous works of Shakespeare criticism. It starts off with a puzzle whose existence had eluded critics for three centuries, namely that of the failure of the dumb show in Act III …