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Meredith’s novels abound in sentences, understood not just as the verbal form that contains a subject and a predicate, ending in a period, but as sententiae or maxims, which express a general truth or opinion in striking and memorable terms. A long-time feature of argument and rhetoric, sententiae are intimately associated with the development of oral and written prose, though their presence in Meredith’s work has led to the accusation that his novels are excessively poetic. This essay adopts a genealogical approach to Meredith’s style by tracing the development of his earliest sententiae to their recognizably mature form. With roots in the “wisdom” tradition in ancient prophecy and philosophy, Meredith’s sententiae reflect an ideal of cultivated speech historically associated with intelligent conversation and drama, which he then assimilated to narrative fiction. The singularity of the Meredithian sentence – a metaphorically dense and syntactically complex assertion that blends idiosyncratic expression with judgments of common sense – thus arises from synthetic hybridity, overlaying didacticism with description and intellection with image.
Małgorzata Leyko’s study of German theatre in Polish lands offers a transnational panorama that resists ‘methodological nationalism’. She interprets this history in various modes from coexistence and expansion to domination or inspiration. At different historical moments, theatre was the site of exclusion or the space of Polish–German exchange. German theatre cultures offered new models and artistic strategies, while during the Nazi occupation and the Second World War theatre was often a site of ideological indoctrination and complicity, or a refuge for those trapped and persecuted in ghettos and camps. Aleksandra Sakowska then demonstrates that Shakespeare has not been passively received by Polish culture. She argues that the process of translating Shakespeare into Polish has complicated and enriched plays like Hamlet and made them generative of new meanings, both within Polish territories and abroad. The multiple forms of translation and adaptation of Shakespeare over the centuries are not positioned as a purely ‘foreign influence’ or ‘cultural sociability’.
Teaching Shakespeare through performance has a long history, and active methods of teaching and learning are a logical complement to the teaching of performance. Virtual reality ought to be the logical extension of such active learning, providing an unrivalled immersive experience of performance that overcomes historical and geographical boundaries. But what are the key advantages and disadvantages of virtual reality, especially as it pertains to Shakespeare? And more interestingly, what can Shakespeare do for VR (rather than vice versa)? This Element, the first on its topic, explores the ways that virtual reality can be used in the classroom and the ways that it might radically change how students experience and think about Shakespeare in performance.
This chapter shows how Shakespeare’s influence on Freud influenced Freud’s reading of Shakespeare. Using the Oedipus complex as the means which Freud famously negotiated questions of literary drama, the chapter revisits his well-known preoccupation with Hamlet by focusing specifically on the issue of recognition. Recognition (or anagnorisis, as Aristotle termed it) is a structural element within drama – and tragedy above all – because it involves relations between things both like and unlike. Freud did not simply recognize his own oedipal dramas enacted within Shakespeare’s play. He also responded to the multiple recognitions staged within Hamlet itself, and to the relations of likeness and unlikeness that are played out there on many different levels. The chapter thus sheds new light on the mutual and creative relationship between literature and psychoanalysis by showing that – as a form of recognition – it, too, is a relationship characterized by an ongoing play between sameness and difference.
The 'genius' shakespeare has a unique position for brecht and continues to be one of his (few) life-long artistic companions. Of particular interest here is brecht's adaptation of shakespeare's coriolanus, including his translation, which shows remarkable poetic skills but also points to ways of overcoming the tragic impasse and traditonal tragedy's (unproductive) focus on the (disposable) individual by showing the transformational power of collectives.
This Element offers a first-person phenomenological history of watching productions of Shakespeare during the pandemic year of 2020. The first section of the Element explores how Shakespeare 'went viral' during the first lockdown of 2020 and considers how the archival recordings of Shakespeare productions made freely available by theatres across Europe and North America impacted on modes of spectatorship and viewing practices, with a particular focus on the effect of binge-watching Hamlet in lockdown. The Element's second section documents two made-for-digital productions of Shakespeare by Oxford-based Creation Theatre and Northern Irish Big Telly, two companies who became leaders in digital theatre during the pandemic. It investigates how their productions of The Tempest and Macbeth modelled new platform-specific ways of engaging with audiences and creating communities of viewing at a time when, in the UK, government policies were excluding most non-building-based theatre companies and freelancers from pandemic relief packages.
Starting with the story of a man, a successful publisher, who like Othello kills his wife and then decides to kill himself, we find that Shakespeare’s plays are the richest source of insight into what motivates violence, toward others and also toward oneself, and what is needed to prevent violence. In contrast to Shakespeare, the mental health system has directed its attention almost exclusively to suicide, and relegated homicide to the criminal justice system. But that system asks only how evil are people who have committed murders and how much punishment they deserve – not what caused them to commit murder, and what we can do to prevent such behavior before it occurs. Criminology is of little help, because most violence is not criminal, and most crimes are not violent. More than experts in any of those fields, Shakespeare illuminates the thoughts, feelings, and social forces that drive people to kill others, themselves, or both.
Shakespeare has been dubbed the greatest psychologist of all time. This book seeks to prove that statement by comparing the playwright's fictional characters with real-life examples of violent individuals, from criminals to political actors. For Gilligan and Richards, the propensity to kill others, even (or especially) when it results in the killer's own death, is the most serious threat to the continued survival of humanity. In this volume, the authors show how humiliated men, with their desire for retribution and revenge, apocryphal violence and political religions, justify and commit violence, and how love and restorative justice can prevent violence. Although our destructive power is far greater than anything that existed in his day, Shakespeare has much to teach us about the psychological and cultural roots of all violence. In this book the authors tell what Shakespeare shows, through the stories of his characters: what causes violence and what prevents it.
The basic history of the Shakespearean editorial tradition is familiar and well-established. For nearly three centuries, men – most of them white and financially privileged – ensconced themselves in private and hard-to-access libraries, hammering out 'their' versions of Shakespeare's text. They produced enormous, learnèd tomes: monuments to their author's greatness and their own reputations. What if this is not the whole story? A bold, revisionist and alternative version of Shakespearean editorial history, this book recovers the lives and labours of almost seventy women editors. It challenges the received wisdom that, when it came to Shakespeare, the editorial profession was entirely male-dominated until the late twentieth century. In doing so, it demonstrates that taking these women's work seriously can transform our understanding of the history of editing, of the nature of editing as an enterprise, and of how we read Shakespeare in history.
In this chapter, we look at a range of place-names and personal names, not from the point of view of controversies associated with them, as earlier in the book, but of the fascinating stories they can tell us about their history, origins and cultural associations.
From the very outset Darwin’s extensive use of metaphor in the Origin has proved controversial, with some people thinking Darwin was thereby committed to ascribing intentions or even consciousness to nature, and others fearing that readers would be misled into thinking that he was. Also, some have argued (e.g. Gillian Beer) that Darwin should be regarded as much as a poet as a scientist. We argue that, on the contrary, his metaphors have a substantively scientific role, and do real work in the development of his argument. Firstly, as Darwin himself stresses, ‘such metaphorical expressions… are almost necessary for brevity’. Secondly, they provide a method for forming new concepts (as in the case of ‘struggle’). Thirdly, and, most significantly, the use of metaphor enables Darwin to explore further the analogy between NS and AS and directly compare the achievements of human breeding and those of the struggle for existence.
Given the challenges war posed for direct physical representation on the Elizabethan stage, much of Shakespeare’s mimetic success depends on his techniques of linguistic construction, especially of narrated war scenes and dialogic encounters. For narrated scenes, Shakespeare follows Marlowe in translating the “high-astounding terms” of the classical grand style to the Elizabethan stage, a choice with ideological implications explored in the chapter. Shakespeare often favors the prospective narration of imagined war scenes, turning potentially static description into the terrorizing speech acts of Henry V and other leaders. In dialogic encounters, Shakespeare develops the dynamics of verbal quarrels and of diplomacy as themselves central events of war. Plays like King John parse war as dysfunctional communication and explore what meager possibilities verbal diplomacy affords for remediation. The chapter assesses contradictions inherent in a rhetorical culture that idealizes eloquence as peacemaking and yet makes eloquence the default language for violent militarism.
Shakespeare’s plays suggest not so much a preoccupation with war as his recognition of its inescapability. He seems never to have experienced warfare firsthand, but no doubt had spoken to people who had. But most of what Shakespeare knew came from books. Chief among these were the chronicles he depended upon for his histories, primarily the group project we refer to as “Holinshed.” What he found was that warfare is more or less indistinguishable over time, a fact revealed in the tedious repetition of battle accounts, further blurred by the echoing of aristocratic family names over generations – and, in the often-overlooked source of the 1577 Holinshed, in which the recycling of a limited number of woodcuts to illustrate events separated by hundreds of years reveals the dispiriting reality. Ironically, it is in Henry V, Shakespeare’s seemingly most triumphal presentation of English military heroism, in which “the question of these wars” finds an answer.
From his two historical tetralogies to his great tragedies, civil and dynastic conflict is a near-constant presence in Shakespeare’s plays. This chapter sweeps across his career to explore the political ferment against which he developed his nuanced depictions of civil discord. It begins with the political contexts that shaped the rise of the English history play in the 1590s and extends through the bitter dynastic rivalries that mark Shakespeare’s depictions of Greek and Roman history, his tragedies, and the full body of his plays. It finds that, while Shakespeare studiously avoided taking sides in the warring factions he depicts, he embraced the opportunity to study the genesis of civil strife – its causes, personal motivations, and means by which it is intermittently brought under control. Civil and dynastic conflict serves Shakespeare brilliantly as essential to his craft as playwright, with implications about civil discord at all times and in all places.
Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra displays a remarkable understanding of the period of history it describes, especially in its understanding of the corporate ideology of the Roman Republic. In describing the collapse of the Republic into one-man rule, Shakespeare highlights the roles of other candidates for power (Lepidus, Sextus Pompey) in order to remind the audience of the corporate state that is being left behind. Shakespeare’s depiction of the Roman civil wars as being wars of brother against brother is very unlike his depiction of the English civil wars, where such imagery is very rare compared to cases of father against son.
Written by a team of leading international scholars, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and War illuminates the ways Shakespeare's works provide a rich and imaginative resource for thinking about the topic of war. Contributors explore the multiplicity of conflicting perspectives his dramas offer: war depicted from chivalric, masculine, nationalistic, and imperial perspectives; war depicted as a source of great excitement and as a theater of honor; war depicted from realistic or skeptical perspectives that expose the butchery, suffering, illness, famine, degradation, and havoc it causes. The essays in this volume examine the representations and rhetoric of war throughout Shakespeare's plays, as well as the modern history of the war plays on stage, in film, and in propaganda. This book offers fresh perspectives on Shakespeare's multifaceted representations of the complexities of early modern warfare, while at the same time illuminating why his perspectives on war and its consequences continue to matter now and in the future.
The relation of Keats to Shakespeare seems straightforward: lifelong admiration; the desire to imitate him; delight in Shakespeare’s use of language; approval of Shakespeare’s bypassing of the ethical in order to enter myriad kinds of human experience through negative capability; and wonder at his imagined worlds. Byron’s complex, shifting and almost never straightforward relation to Shakespeare is unlike this. Yet Byron, I will argue, is more pervasively, though less devoutly, Shakespearian than Keats.
As the preeminent black orator and author of the nineteenth century, Frederick Douglass filled his speeches and writings with intertextual references, from the Western classical tradition to the Bible to contemporaneous British and American writers. In his various roles as antislavery activist, writer, editor, and publisher, Douglass employed intertexts as tools of rhetorical suasion and authority. As his fame grew, so too did the complexity and range of literary references. This essay looks at intertexts in Douglass’s speeches, his 1845 Narrative, and his 1853 novella, The Heroic Slave.
This groundbreaking study of girlhood and cognition argues that early moderns depicted female puberty as a transformative event that activated girls' brains in dynamic ways. Mining a variety of genres from Shakespearean plays and medical texts to autobiographical writings, Caroline Bicks shows how 'the change of fourteen years' seemed to gift girls with the ability to invent, judge, and remember what others could or would not. Bicks challenges the presumption that early moderns viewed all female cognition as passive or pathological, demonstrating instead that girls' changing adolescent brains were lightning rods for some of the period's most vital debates about the body and soul, faith and salvation, science and nature, and the place and agency of human perception in the midst of it all.
Mental illness is not strictly divisible from physical for much of the long eighteenth century: many mental disorders were thought to originate from physical causes and were treated by similar methods. But this category of disease had an enormous influence on literary productions throughout the period. In the early years, in Swift, for example, and in Pope and in adaptations of Shakespeare, being mad, or eccentric, tended to figure largely, while after the rise of the novel, and of sensibility in particular, the figure of the madman, and especially madwoman, featured prominently as a means of arousing fine feelings, as in Richardson, Sterne, and Henry Mackenzie. Similar currents developed within medicine and psychiatry, not least the movement towards ‘moral management’, taking the mad more seriously, and identifying them as a specialist branch of scientific understanding and treatment. These tendencies reached their height within the Romantic period, with madness being seen by Wordsworth, for example, as one danger of the heightened imagination, but also being valorised, as by Blake, as an exceptionally sensitive and privileged condition. This chapter analyses the major types of mental illness that dominated during the period and the ways in which they were discussed and represented.