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An Islamic Reading of King Henry IV
by David P. Gontar (September 2012)
I. Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Sinraj Ad-Din)
Perhaps the most amusing aspect of contemporary Shakespeare studies is the insouciant ease with which partisan exegetes commend pet paradigms and models to an unsuspecting public. In the welter of contending voices few there are who habitually test their own premises. Whence cometh such sanguine assurance? It is quite impossible, says the Renaissance specialist, to conceive that Shakespeare was not an artist steeped in the amiable cynicism and benign worldliness of Montaigne, Chaucer, Boccaccio, Castiglione, Golding, Marguerite of Navarre, et al. On the other hand, it is equally apparent to champions of medievalism that Shakespeare was a matchless reactionary, who served as a staunch "continuer and the summer-up of the past, the last outpost of a quickly vanishing age." (Lings, 9, emphasis added) For Martin Lings, an Islamic mystic and antiquarian, it is plain that Shakespeare is about the "perfecting" of the human soul in relation to the "Spirit." more>>>