‘I often find spiritual strength in secular books. I’m just reading
Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare.
The biography explores what we know about Shakespeare’s life, and what we
can glean about it from his plays and the time in which he lived. One of the
central themes was whether Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic. Was that why he
left Stratford? How would he have coped with the double rejection caused by his
faith and his profession?
Shakespeare lived on the margins of society, in the wicked underside of
London, Southwark. This marginalisation speaks to Christianity today. True
spirituality looks at the whole person, not just the religious part; and that
is what this study does.
The theatre world was one of competition, and the book reveals the rivalry
between Shakespeare and Marlowe. In our spiritual lives, we often feel the
destructive forces of jealousy, the stress and anger of preferment. The theatre
has always struck me as an honest world in which one has to deliver the goods.
Often in our spiritual lives we allow ourselves to drift, but people in the
theatre are constantly creating and performing.
One of the strongest themes in the book is the importance of communication.
Sharing spiritual truths, whether by word, action, or even just a look, is a
gift from God which must be cherished.
When I read spiritual books, I use them as spiritual lozenges, and pop them
into my mouth throughout the day. But often books such as
Will in the World speak even more deeply than spiritual books to
Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare by Stephen
Greenblatt, Jonathan Cape, £20
Bookshop £18; 0-224-06276-X