Cover image for Shakespeare : the basics
Title:
Shakespeare : the basics
Author:
McEvoy, Sean, 1959-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Routledge, 2000.
Physical Description:
xvi, 282 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780415212885

9780415212892
Format :
Book

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PR2976 .M34 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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On Order

Summary

Summary

Aimed squarely at the student new to Shakespeare, this volume provides a through introduction to the plays, based on the exciting new approaches shaping the field of Shakespeare studies. The author offers a refreshingly clear guide to Shakespeare's language; the plays as performance texts; the cultural and political contexts of the plays; early modern theatre practice; new understandings of the major genres.


Author Notes

Sean McEvoy teaches English and Drama at Varndean College, Brighton, UK.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Addressed primarily to British secondary school students, this companion provides an articulate, succinct introduction to new historicist, cultural materialist, and feminist approaches to Shakespeare. McEvoy (Varndean College, UK) explains theoretical differences as clearly as possible, and he offers extended readings of several plays to illustrate how contemporary critics might argue their perspectives. However, the book has several problems for US collections, namely McEvoy's examples assume familiarity with British history and culture, and the spelling is British, of course. The graphics are annoying at times: gray boxes containing cultural descriptions appear in chapters where readers might least expect them and take up a page or more. Of particular concern to teachers: McEvoy provides few questions to prompt student readers to use the theory. Though this work is useful for libraries serving beginning undergraduates and secondary education programs in English, especially those interested in international approaches to teaching Shakespeare, better choices for the US undergraduate would be Russ McDonald's The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare (1996) or casebook editions of individual plays, such as the Bedford/St. Martin's "Texts and Contexts" series. McEvoy's bibliography is useful, but it emphasizes British critics. M. A. Bushman Illinois Wesleyan University


Table of Contents

List of illustrationsp. xiii
Acknowledgementsp. xv
Introductionp. 1
Part I Understanding the textp. 9
1 Shakespeare's language (1)p. 11
Shakespeare wrote for theatre-goers, not readersp. 11
Box 1 Shakespeare's audiencesp. 12
Another problem: vocabulary changes over timep. 14
Isn't it all hard going? Registers of languagep. 19
How to read Shakespearep. 22
Box 2 Playtexts in Shakespeare's timep. 25
Comparisons, images and analogiesp. 28
Box 3 The Great Chain of Being and radical politicsp. 34
2 Shakespeare's language (2)p. 37
Verse and prosep. 37
Versep. 40
Box 4 Kings and queensp. 48
Rhetoricp. 51
Box 5 Social mobilityp. 52
3 Types of stage actionp. 59
Estrangementp. 62
Box 6 Early modern views on theatrep. 63
Reflexivityp. 64
Box 7 Women and sexp. 69
4 What the plays mean in performancep. 77
Performance thenp. 82
Box 8 Playhousesp. 88
Box 9 Homosexuality in Shakespeare's timep. 90
Performance nowp. 96
Part II The genresp. 117
5 What is genre?p. 119
Box 10 Theatre companiesp. 120
Classification by genrep. 121
6 Understanding comedy: The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merchant of Venicep. 125
Comedy and gender: The Taming of the Shrewp. 129
Comedy and power: A Midsummer Night's Dreamp. 137
Comedy and utopia: The Merchant of Venicep. 142
7 Understanding history: King Richard II, King Henry IV Part I and King Henry Vp. 151
History and historyp. 153
Box 11 Religionp. 155
History and powerp. 176
History and women
8 Understanding tragedy: Hamlet, King Lear and Othellop. 183
Tragedy and historyp. 185
Tragedy and powerp. 194
Tragedy and genderp. 205
9 Understanding the mixed-genre plays: Measure For Measure and Troilus and Cressidap. 213
The language of lovep. 214
Rulers and ruledp. 228
Box 12 Londonp. 229
Idols and idealsp. 236
10 Understanding romance: The Winter's Tale and The Tempestp. 241
Romance and genderp. 243
Romance and utopiap. 256
Conclusionp. 267
Appendix Chronologyp. 269
Referencesp. 273
Indexp. 279