All posts by Joseph Pearce

Shakespeare in Retrospect

I’m excited to hear of a new Shakespeare initiative by a small UK charity called Retrospect Opera (, which makes professional recordings of important musical theatre works from Britain’s past, roughly the period 1750-1950. They are currently working on a specifically Shakespearean project: a recording of the music composed for David Garrick’s great Shakespeare “Jubilee” of 1769, as subsequently embedded in Garrick’s sensationally popular musical comedy, The Jubilee, premiered the same year. Next year marks the 250th anniversary of these remarkable events. Although the Jubilee is a seminal moment in Shakespeare’s reception history, and marked the consecration of Stratford-upon-Avon as a centre for literary pilgrimages, most of the music – described by a spokesman for the charity as being “consistently fresh and delightful” – has never been recorded before. The plan is to create something that is at once scholarly, with appropriate supporting documentation, and musically and theatrically done to the highest level, “capturing how much fun it all was”.

There is more detail about the project here:

Several very distinguished Shakespeareans have made donations. For a full list of supporters see here:

Having received about 80% of the necessary funding, Retrospect Opera hopes to be able to release the recording around February or March, well in advance of the exact anniversary in September. They are hoping that much of the remainder of the funding will come from individual Shakespeareans who understand the enormous importance of the Garrick Jubilee and recognise the value of reviving and commemorating it. There are various levels of supporter, as the website explains (basically £25, £50, and £100 categories).

In This Week’s Inner Sanctum

New exclusive content has been uploaded to the Inner Sanctum for subscriber-donors of my website,

This week’s new content includes:

An exclusive excerpt from the book I am currently writing, which will not be published until the Spring of next year. The book is tentatively titled, “Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know”, and the excerpt is the full chapter on Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote.

An old interview, unavailable anywhere on the internet, in which I answer unusual and imaginative questions, such as: What is the highlight of my life as a writer? What’s the most frustrating aspect of my work as a researcher? Which dead person would I most like to meet and why? And what is the most interesting question which I’ve ever been asked?

An article in which I muse upon the abuse of language in the service of wrong-headed political “correctness”, especially as it relates to the thorny question of same-sex attraction.

The latest audio lecture in the 45-lecture series on Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

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Great Books from Cluny Media

I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration, not to say effusive enthusiasm, for the work of Cluny Media, a publishing house which is bringing some of the neglected classics of the Catholic Revival back into print. The series of Cluny Classics has resurrected the Chestertonian genius of Myles Connolly, bringing three of his novels, including the delightful Mr. Blue, back into print. And now, hot off the press, are new editions of François Mauriac’s The Lamb and a selection of short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which includes the masterful “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”. As if these were not enough feathers for one publishing house to be wearing in its cap, I am also overjoyed to see the reissuing of two works on Catholic aesthetics by those giants of neo-Thomism, Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson. The former’s Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry delineates the abstract principles at the heart of poiesis whereas the latter’s Choir of Muses discuss the artist’s relationship with the Muse, including insightful chapters on Petrarch, Baudelaire and Wagner.

Those interested in the Catholic cultural revival, or those as passionate as I am about its revitalization in the twenty-first century, should buy and read these books. Not only will they be enriched by the experience but they will be supporting the work of this finest and most important of contemporary publishers.