Paradoxically, then, `Great genial power, one would almost say, consists in not being original at all; in being altogether receptive’. Shakespeare was receptive to every mood, every position and disposition: hence the intermingling, the layering and counterpoint, which is one of his stylistic hallmarks. He was receptive to everything but reductive singularity: hence his stripping of unitary motive from such characters as Leontes and Lear. We praise writers for being receptive to all experience; so too should we praise them for being altogether receptive to their reading, save when that reading closes the mind rather than opens it. The range and extent of Shakespeare’s indebtedness is a badge of his genius, not a blemish upon it.
another wonderful passage from Jonathan Bate’s The Genius of Shakespeare