Bookshelf

• “The aim of poetry,” H.L. Mencken once claimed, “is to give a high and voluptuous plausibility to what is palpably not true.” It would be hard to come up with a less apt explanation of Shakespeare’s eternal appeal. We read him for many reasons, but surely the most basic one is that he tells us—beautifully—what we know is so, in the process strengthening our sense of reality. That such a man must have been by definition intelligent would seem self-evident, but in the never-never land of contemporary academic criticism, nothing is self-evident, and so A.D. Nuttall, lately of Oxford, has written Shakespeare the Thinker (Yale, 428 pp., $30), a book dedicated to the proposition that the Bard was smart.

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Bookshelf

Must-Reads from Magazine

John Kelly Changed the Game

When Trump fights on values, he wins.

For approximately 18 minutes, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly accomplished the impossible: He got America’s journalists and political opinion writers to shut up and listen.

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Bush’s Finest Hour

More than just Trump.

On Thursday, George W. Bush delivered a speech at the “Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World” event in New York City. Headlines are touting the speech as an attack on Trumpism. That’s accurate, so far as it goes. But it’s clear from Bush’s words that he was aiming for (and achieved) something loftier than yet another complaint about the 45th president. Bush was making the case against the pervasive discontent that’s driven many citizens throughout the Democratic West to a politics of grievance and revenge. Trumpism is but one example.

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The Danger of the Me Too Campaign

Denunciations.

Silence, Wordsworth wrote, “is a privilege of the grave, a right of the departed. Let him, therefore, who infringes that right by speaking publicly of, for, or against, those who cannot speak for themselves, take heed that he opens not his mouth without a sufficient sanction.”

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Fake News Will Never Die

A problem with no solution.

Though it’s certainly the worst Photoshop job I have ever seen, a provocative image making the rounds on social media also helps demonstrate why the fight against “fake news” is unwinnable.

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The Great Stock Market Crash of 1987

Still the blackest Monday.

Thirty years ago today—October 19th, 1987—the bottom dropped out of the stock market.

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