Why do we study the writings of Chaucer and Shakespeare and other “Great Writers”?
Answer: to know greatness, to encounter and attempt to comprehend what makes their works worthy of being deemed “great.”
That they are great is the judgment of generations of readers and audiences, both popular and scholarly, a judgment reiterated over decades and centuries.
Their works are now deemed “canonical,” indicating a near-holy eminence and reverence. Infinite ink has flowed to celebrate and explicate their poetry and drama, appreciating in ever-subtler ways the nature of the genius each author expressed.
We study their writings to learn to enjoy and appreciate the further reaches of human talent, not only for pleasure but possibly for inspiration, as a prompt to our own latent genius longing to awaken.