Penguin Books Australia put out a request (born April 23, 1564) for our favourite Shakespeare. My replies: Hamlet’s too long but has every kind of great line. The Sonnets perplex, as we can never be sure how much is Shakespeare’s own experience and how much is artifice, so can we ever say what is biographical? The Tempest’s such a mystery, in some ways hardly a play at all but an allegory, or a dream play (see Strindberg), or a private letter to friends. The great tragedies push us to the edge. The Merchant of Venice enshrines his favourite virtue, mercy.