Eliot, T. S. "Hamlet and His Problems."
The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Methune, 1921. 95-103.

Professor Stoll of the University of Minnesota, have issued small books which can be praised for moving in the other direction. Mr. Stoll performs a service in recalling to our attention the labours of the critics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,1 observing that
they knew less about psychology than more recent Hamlet critics, but they were nearer in spirit to Shakespeare's art; and as they insisted on the importance of the effect of the whole rather than on the importance of the leading character, they were nearer, in their old-fashioned way, to the secret of dramatic art in general.

      Qua work of art, the work of art cannot be interpreted; there is nothing to interpret; we can only criticize it according to standards, in comparison to other works of art; and for "interpretation" the chief task is the presentation of relevant historical facts which the reader is not assumed to know. Mr. Robertson points out, very pertinently, how critics have failed in their "interpretation" of Hamlet by ignoring what ought to be very obvious: that Hamlet is a stratification, that it represents the efforts of a series of men, each making what he could out of the work of his predecessors. The Hamlet of Shakespeare will appear to us very differently if, instead of treating the whole action of the play as due to Shakespeare's design, we perceive his Hamlet
1I have never, by the way, seen a cogent refutation of Thomas Rymer's objections to Othello.

A Note on Eliot's Note: Thomas Rymer (1641-1713), author of A Short View of Tragedy; It's Original, Excellency, and Corruption. With some Reflections on Shakespear, and other Practitioners for the Stage (London, 1693), had nothing good to say about Othello. Rymer's first objection was that Shakespeare had dignified a black man by giving him a name. Because of such bigoted stupidities, Rymer was widely regarded as the worst critic to ever publish anything about Shakespeare. Thus Eliot's note amounts to a snide joke at Shakespeare's expense.