Friday, July 22, 2016

Shakespeare References in The Further Prophecies Of Nostradamus: 1985 And Beyond

Even though there had been Shakespeare references in the previous seven or eight books I had read, I did not expect to find any in Erika Cheetham’s The Further Prophecies Of Nostradamus: 1985 And Beyond. I was wrong. There are several. The first is simply a mention of Shakespeare, in a chapter on Aldous Huxley and George Orwell’s work: “Cultural interests such as reading Shakespeare, long-lasting sexual love, the family, even the wish to spend time alone, are things to be discouraged and prevented lest they encourage independent thought, which is virtually equivalent to subversive action” (p. 128).

Then, in the chapter titled “Misuses Of Prophecy And Prophets,” there is an entire section on Macbeth. Cheetham writes, “Macbeth is a classic example of one of the most frequent misuses of prophecy, that of trying to force it instead of just letting it happen” (p. 134). Cheetham then goes into detail about how both Macbeth and Banquo react to the witches’ prophecies. “Soon enough Macbeth murders the king, to make one of the prophecies come true” (p. 135). Regarding Macbeth’s later encounter with the witches and the vision of the kings, Cheetham writes: “From then until his death Macbeth believes in prophecy, becoming almost its passive agent, and demonstrating another misuse of prophecy, that of wrongful interpretation, in the way most favorable to himself. When the second and third prophetic sayings come true, in a sense unfavorable to him, Macbeth’s courage fails, and he is killed by Macduff. It is overstating the obvious that at least 50 percent of a prophecy’s content lies in belief by its subject” (pages 135-136). Cheetham then writes: “It seems to me that the principle of symmetry demands that someone trying to ensure that a favorable prophecy should come to pass, will in fact help to ensure that it fails. That was Macbeth’s error” (p. 136). In the next chapter, Cheetham returns to Macbeth: “There are certain grounds on which almost any prophecy may be regarded as undesirable. It may paralyze action or distort judgment leading to wrong or foolish conduct, as happened to Macbeth” (p. 144).

There is also a reference to Hamlet: “My own personal experience does not lead me to reject a large measure of free choice and free will. Chaucer’s ‘all that’s preordained needs must be’ is too extreme. I prefer Hamlet’s ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy’” (p. 145).

The Further Prophecies Of Nostradamus: 1985 And Beyond was published in 1985. It is a Perigee Book, published by The Putnam Publishing Group. The edition I read is the hardcover Book Club Edition.

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