I’ve told this story before, but this time I want to turn it into a discussion. Eons ago, when I was working at the supermarket during my college-ish years (that’d be circa 1988-1994 for anybody that wants specifics), I got into a discussion about Shakespeare with one of the ladies that worked with me, who I think was an English teacher in a past life. I asked her what she thought of Shakespeare, or whether she was a fan, or what her favorite play was … I can’t remember the question. But I’ve always remembered the answer:
I think that if the entirety of human civilization were to end tomorrow, and only one book survived that might show whatever comes next what once was, that book should be King Lear.
High praise. But do you agree? Let’s put that out there as our sci-fi hypothesis. Mankind? Wiped out. Maybe some of us blasted off on a rocket and came back around again a few thousand years later, or maybe it’s the aliens coming to see how exactly we blew ourselves up. They’re picking through the rubble, and they find a book. What book? Shakespeare? If not Shakespeare, then who? Hold your horses, before everybody jumps in with “Bible!” I will extend the question – are you picking a book that is supposed to represent human civilization the way it *was*, good and bad? Or the way you wish it was? Do you see this as an opportunity for a historical record of what was, or a recipe book for how to change the future?