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The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups

af Ron Rosenbaum

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406861,247 (3.74)8
Cultural historian Rosenbaum gives readers a way of rethinking the greatest works of the human imagination, as he shakes up much that we thought we understood about a vital subject and renews our sense of excitement and urgency. Rather than raking over worn-out fragments of biography, Rosenbaum focuses on cutting-edge controversies about the true source of Shakespeare's enchantment and illumination--the astonishing language itself. He takes readers into the midst of fierce battles among the most brilliant Shakespearean scholars and directors over just how to delve deeper into the mind of Shakespeare. He makes ostensibly arcane textual scholarship seductive, and he shows us great directors as Shakespearean scholars in their own right. This book offers a thrilling opportunity to engage with Shakespeare's work at its deepest levels.--From publisher description.… (mere)
  1. 00
    Shakespeare's Beehive: An Annotated Elizabethan Dictionary Comes to Light af George Koppelman (souci)
    souci: To the interpretation of Shakespeare as a writer, and his methods
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he Germans have Goethe, the Russians Dostoevsky, the Spanish Cervantes, the Portuguese Fernando Pessoa (and Camões). The English-speaking world has Shakespeare with a difference. Shakespeare “speaks” to us from a 400 year gap, while Goethe, Dostoevsky, Cervantes, and Pessoa are much closer to us. Their language is basically the language that we speak today. Not so with Shakespeare. Early Modern English is “another” language. This is what makes Shakespeare different, as well as the fact that we know next to nothing about him, which makes him harder to read and interpret.


You can read the rest of this review on my blog. ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
I loved this book. Is it repetitive at times? Yes. Does Rosenbaum have an annoying habit of using fragmented sentences? Yes. But look past these quirks, and you'll find a fascinating collection of the most interesting scholarly debates about Shakespeare's works. This is not a book about who Shakespeare was – Rosenbaum has little good to say about attempts at biography. This is a book about what Shakespeare wrote, and what scholars argue about when the argue about Shakespeare. The author wants you to see these debates from the inside, to feel the weight of the conflicts and attempts to resolve them. And that, for a guy like me, is what really makes this book worthwhile. For someone who prefers the "Shakespeare In Love" approach to the Bard, perhaps not so much. It can all seem a little pointless if you have no natural inclination toward exegesis. Personally, I found the question of the multiple Hamlet texts enlightening, as well as the debate over proper verse speaking (how important is a pause?) and spelling (does modernizing impoverish readings?).

The issues here circle a single, important question: "What does it mean to be 'Shakespearean'?" Can we articulate what makes Shakespeare special; or as one of Rosenbaum's idols Stephen Booth put it, "What's all the fuss about?" On this topic, I think Rosenbaum grows to an important point, which is that Shakespeare's writing is "bottomless." That is to say, the more closely you read the plays and sonnets, the more you find: more metaphors, more puns, more polysemy, more meaning, seemingly without end. "Shakespearean," then, is a supreme level of wordplay, married with a sense of human character and dilemma (dilemmas of love, of revenge, of forgiveness, of the self), that, when studied, appears limitless.

And yet, as dryly academic as this might sound, what drives Rosenbaum is a life-changing experience seeing Peter Brook's infamous staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream. And that, I think, is one of my most important takeaways from The Shakespeare Wars, one to which I can fully relate. It's worth your time to analyze the texts, but these are plays meant to be seen and performed. Invariably, the spark of a lifelong love of Shakespeare really begins not on the page, but on the stage.

As such, one who is already in love will find more to appreciate here than the merely infatuated. But writing quirks aside, there is much to value, and I count The Shakespeare Wars among those books that helped me to finally understand the fuss. ( )
1 stem britchey | Jun 9, 2016 |
I read more than half of this book which pretty much counts as reading the whole thing...A little (a lot) repetitive. ( )
  RubyA | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is pretty challenging for a general market book, not to say it's inaccessible, but just that it requires some concentration. It explains issues surrounding different editions very well. I like that it comes at the controversies by showing the advocates of various positions. ( )
  betweencovers | Mar 26, 2008 |
Fascinating! Although the book leaves me with more questions than answers. I may need to read Lear again. ( )
  akritz | Jul 17, 2007 |
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Cultural historian Rosenbaum gives readers a way of rethinking the greatest works of the human imagination, as he shakes up much that we thought we understood about a vital subject and renews our sense of excitement and urgency. Rather than raking over worn-out fragments of biography, Rosenbaum focuses on cutting-edge controversies about the true source of Shakespeare's enchantment and illumination--the astonishing language itself. He takes readers into the midst of fierce battles among the most brilliant Shakespearean scholars and directors over just how to delve deeper into the mind of Shakespeare. He makes ostensibly arcane textual scholarship seductive, and he shows us great directors as Shakespearean scholars in their own right. This book offers a thrilling opportunity to engage with Shakespeare's work at its deepest levels.--From publisher description.

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