Shakespeare’s Doctor

Theodore Dalrymple has published a few couple interesting essays in City Journal over the last interval.
For soccer fans, especially Manchester United fans, Strange Hero-Worship, a slap at the mass grief over the death of soccer genius, playboy (alcoholic, promiscuous, and violent) and celebrity, George Best. This one goes into the strange mass grief demonstrated at the death of celebrities and the obtuse complicity of the media in the routines and rituals of celebrity worship.
For the theatre crowd, Truth vs. Theory, which looks at the long-running question of whether William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote all the plays credited to him, and uses that question to expose something about the cult of professionalism and technocracy. Almost every writer who believes that some of Shakespeare’s plays were written by Bacon or Marlowe find it impossible to believe that a man with an Elizabethan grammar school education was knowledgeable about so many things, frequently skeptical of learned opinion, and was able to speak wisely about the human condition. He points out that Shakespeare was aware of Galen’s theory of the humours, and apparently dismissed it although it was accepted by ancient, medieaval and Renaissance physicians. That brings him to Orwell and to Eliot at the end – read it.
I am starting to appreciate Dalrymple. (I have mentioned him in two early entries – search his name to follow up). Some writers say he is a hard-headed conservative who sees the decline of culture. Others say that he is a cranky conservative, pining for the mythic pastoral England, like Eliot, Tolkien, Lewis. Others say he is more like Orwell, a radical, cynical critic of the way modern capitalism traps people in an economy that turns us into robots, and a culture that entices us to value ourselves as hedonist consumers and unheralded celebrities. (This isn’t exactly what Geoffrey Wheatcroft wrote in a book review in the New Statesman, but his reading of Dalrymple goes in that direction).