'The greatest literary scholar of his generation' (Independent) explains how the history of the Elizabethan era is the backdrop to William Shakespeare and his plays. Shakespeare made his unique contribution to British and world culture in the midst of Elizabeth's great reign. Here, the circumstances of each play's composition are acutely ...
'The greatest literary scholar of his generation' (Independent) explains how the history of the Elizabethan era is the backdrop to William Shakespeare and his plays. Shakespeare made his unique contribution to British and world culture in the midst of Elizabeth's great reign. Here, the circumstances of each play's composition are acutely described, and set within a masterful portrait of Shakespeare's England - its early capitalism, its court, its bursting population, and its epidemics, as well as its arts - including, of course, its theatre. An important, lasting, and concise companion to Shakespeare's time.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-01-19 While the age of Shakespeare overlapped with the both the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, Kermode's compact, erudite appreciation of the Bard is less about Shakespeare's private life and turbulent times than his theatrical milieu and the worlds he created for the stage. Quick summaries of the pressing political issues of the Protestant Reformation and the successor Queen Elizabeth are followed by up-to-date surveys of the debates over Shakespeare's possible crypto-Catholicism and his "missing" years. But Kermode hits his stride with the plays. His breakdown of Shakespeare's artistic development and mature achievement by the various acting companies and theaters he was associated with from the Lord Chamberlain's Company to the renamed King's Men, from the Theatre and the Rose to the Globe and Blackfriars proves a satisfying structure to match the swift pace. Inevitably, the brevity of the Chronicles format can't provide equal time to all of Shakespeare's million-plus words of dramatic poetry, and Kermode prefers the tragedies and romances over the histories and comedies (to say nothing of the sonnets). Occasionally shifting to lectern manner, he also revisits some of his favorite tropes, which he explored in Shakespeare's Language, such as rhetorical doubling and pairing in Hamlet and the theme of equivocation in Macbeth. While Ben Jonson declared, "[Shakespeare] was not for an age, but for all time!" Kermode pleasurably shows how he and his works were of their age and also transcended it. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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