If I had any doubts at all about the justice of my dislike for Shakespeare, that doubt vanished completely. What a crude, immoral, vulgar, and senseless work Hamlet is. The whole thing is based on pagan vengeance; the only aim is to gather together as many effects as possible; there is no rhyme or reason about it.
Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910), Russian novelist, philosopher. letter, Jan. 1896. Tolstoy's Letters, vol. 2, ed. and trans. by R.F. Christian (1978).
Tolstoy continued, "The author was so concerned with the effects that he didn't even bother to give the main person any character, and everybody decided that it was a brilliant portrayal of a characterless man. I never understood so clearly the utter helplessness of the crowd in making judgements, and how they can deceive themselves."