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1 Beaverton Drama- Shakespeare Criticism

Shakespeare and Modern Culture


Shakespeare and Modern Culture Cover

ISBN13: 9780307377678
ISBN10: 0307377679
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Publisher Comments:

From one of the worlds premier Shakespeare scholars, author of Shakespeare After All (“the indispensable introduction to the indispensable writer”–Newsweek): a magisterial new study whose premise is “that Shakespeare makes modern culture and that modern culture makes Shakespeare.”

Shakespeare has determined many of the ideas that we think of as “naturally” our own and even as “naturally” true–ideas about human character, individuality and selfhood, government, leadership, love and jealousy, men and women, youth and age. Yet many of these ideas, timely as ever, have been reimagined–are indeed often now first encountered–not only in modern fiction, theater, film, and the news but also in the literature of psychology, sociology, political theory, business, medicine, and law.

Marjorie Garber delves into ten plays to explore the interrelationships between Shakespeare and twentieth century and contemporary culture–from James Joyces Ulysses to George W. Bushs reading list. In The Merchant of Venice, she looks at the question of intention; in Hamlet, the matter of character; in King Lear, the dream of sublimity; in Othello, the persistence of difference; and in Macbeth, the necessity of interpretation. She discusses the conundrum of man in The Tempest; the quest for exemplarity in Henry V; the problem of fact in Richard III; the estrangement of self in Coriolanus; and the untimeliness of youth in Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare and Modern Culture is a tour de force reimagining of our own mental and emotional landscape as refracted through the prism of protean “Shakespeare.”

About the Author

Marjorie Garber is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and Chair of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, at Harvard University. Shakespeare After All was named one of the five best nonfiction books of 2004 by Newsweek and received the 2005 Christian Gauss Book Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Shakespeare and Modern Culture

1. The Tempest, or the Conundrum of Man

2. Romeo and Juliet, or the Untimelieness of Youth

3. Coriolanus, or the Estrangement of Self

4. Macbeth, or the Necessity of Interpretation

5. Richard III, or the Problem of Fact

6. The Merchant of Venice, or the Question of Intention

7. Othello, or the Persistence of Difference

8. Henry V, or the Quest for Exemplarity

9. Hamlet, or the Matter of Character

10. King Lear, or the Dream of Sublimity

Afterword: The Rest Is Shakespeare




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Found Highways, February 7, 2009 (view all comments by Found Highways)
William Shakespeare: a playwright and philosopher who influenced Nietzsche and Sartre, but who was also a source for Kiss Me, Kate, and West Side Story. Shakespeare affected Freud's view of human psychology, but in a twist of time-travel he also inspired Sophocles.

How is this possible?

In this entertainingly written book (rare, for a serious study of Shakespeare's stories), Professor Marjorie Garber explains how Shakespeare's plays all “take place in triple time: in the time they are set . . . the time when they are written . . . and the time when they are produced and performed, or read and interpreted.”

We learn what poets as diverse as Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Cobain have made of Shakespeare, and how actresses as different as Peggy Ashcroft and Claire Danes have interpreted him.

Professor Garber takes ten plays (The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Coriolanus, Macbeth, Richard III, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Henry V, Hamlet, and King Lear) and examines one aspect of human nature (such as Youth or Estrangement) in each.

One of the most interesting topics to me was Garber's chapter on the play MacBird, by Barbara Garson, produced in 1964 and set in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. MacBird is a serious political drama, but it shares a form with a science fiction musical I saw in Sydney, Australia, in the early 1990s, Return to the Forbidden Planet. (“Shakespeare's forgotten rock and roll masterpiece” won the Olivier Award for best musical in 1990, and I think Olivier, perhaps the 20th century's greatest Shakespearean actor and director, would have been pleased.)

Each play (MacBird and Return to the Forbidden Planet) is derived from one of Shakespeare's plays (Macbeth and The Tempest), but MacBird and Return to the Forbidden Planet both use dialogue inspired by several of Shakespeare's other plays to carry their stories forward. When you watch these two plays you're on the edge of your seat trying to predict what famous soliloquy will come up next in the story. (I confess a partiality for the science fiction musical because it uses Motown era R&B hits like “Gloria” in addition to iambic pentameter.)

Like Shakespeare's own plays, the modern work that steals from him (let's quit using words like “inspired”) can be serious or funny, political or personal.

I guarantee that if you like to watch Shakespeare on the stage, you'll enjoy reading Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare and Modern Culture.

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Product Details

Garber, Marjorie
Pantheon Books
Garber, Marjorie B.
Shakespeare, William
Popular Culture - General
Criticism and interpretation
Publication Date:
December 2008
Grade Level:
9.20x6.50x1.20 in. 1.54 lbs.

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