By Leslie A. Fiedler
During this provocative publication, initially released in 1972, Leslie Fiedler turns his severe eye on what he calls the "borderline determine" in Shakespeare's performs and poems. Neither hero nor villain, this determine defines the boundaries of the human-it is the shadow, the opposite, the alien
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T o win me soon to Hell, my female evil Tempteth my better angel from my side, And would corrupt my saint to be a devil, Wooing his purity with her foul pride. And whether that my angel be turned fiend Suspect I may, yet not directly tell. But being both from me, both to each friend, I guess one angel in another's Hell. Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt Till my bad angel fire my good one out. I T H E WOMAN AS STRANGER: or "None but women left. . " BEGINNING for Shakespeare is the problem of woman, or, more exactly perhaps, his problem with women.
But the taint cf homosexuality clings to such a suggestion, and Shakespeare is painfully aware of the proverbial fickleness of boys, declaring through the Fool in Lear, for instance, that "He's mad that trusts . . " After all, he lived with boys in the theater, watched them offstage as well as on; and though he can praise his fair youth with a tenderness so genuine that generations of men have read his words to their mistresses, the fable of the Sonnets does not end on a note of tenderness. The poet, troubled from the first, finally sees in dismay his two loves in each other's arms, the untainted boy betrayed into the embrace of a gonorrheal whore.
More recently, white Europeans have come face to face with the black man in Africa and the red man in America; and the archetypal stories generated by those events continue to confuse us, since we are likely to take what is our myth of Negro or Indian for their actual history. The more ancient • I have dealt theoretically with this problem in The Return of the Vanishing American, a book which begins precisely where this one will end—with the Indians. But I risk repeating myself in order to be dear on what seems to me a vital point.