Shakespeare will not make us better, and he will not make us worse, but he may teach us how to overhear ourselves when we talk to ourselves… he may teach us how to accept change in ourselves as in others, and perhaps even the final form of change.
The second, and I think this is the much more overt and I think it is the main cause, I have been increasingly demonstrating or trying to demonstrate that every possible stance a critic, a scholar, a teacher can take towards a poem is itself inevitably and necessarily poetic.
The world gets older, without getting either better or worse and so does literature. But I do think that the drab current phenomenon that passes for literary studies in the university will finally provide its own corrective.
We read deeply for varied reasons, most of them familiar: that we cannot know enough people profoundly enough; that we need to know ourselves better; that we require knowledge, not just of self and others, but of the way things are.