Stephen Greenblatt on ‘Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics’

Stephen Greenblatt reads from Tyrant
Stephen Greenblatt. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Unlike some of his colleagues, “Shakespeare was a genius at staying out of prison,” Shakespearean scholar and Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt says. “He figured out how to go quite far in the game that he was playing.”

At a May 6 event at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Greenblatt discussed and read short excerpts from his new book, Tyrant, which looks at how Shakespeare navigated the fraught political situation of his time and how he explored the nature of leadership in the characters he created for his plays.

In this edited recording of his talk, Greenblatt starts off with remarks about New Historicism, a critical approach he was instrumental in developing. He begins reading excerpts from Tyrant, including the opening passage, at the 12:17 mark.

Greenblatt is John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is also the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author of The Swerve, Will in the World, and The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, and the general editor of The Norton Shakespeare.

Tyrant was published May 8, 2018, by W.W. Norton.

⇒ Related: Podcast – Stephen Greenblatt: Shakespeare’s Life Stories

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