Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

The Tragedy of the West

Reading Shakespeare rightly is emblematic of a civilization still capable of empathy, humility and self-reflection.


Shakespeare and the Idea of Western Civilization, by R.V. Young, (Catholic University of America Press: June 2022), 280 pages.

“What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a god!” So muses Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Man, proclaims the Danish prince, possesses an essential dignity and an impenetrable complexity which are understood only with great effort, if it does not elude us entirely. Or, as Qoheleth declared, “The purpose in a man’s mind is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 14:10).