Katharine Cleland examines Jessica and Lorenzo’s clandestine marriage in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” in this excerpt from her book “Irregular Unions.”
Posts Categorized: Off-the-shelf
The most famous book about Renaissance melancholy, Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), celebrates its four hundredth anniversary this year. Though it was published five years after Shakespeare’s death, it gathers together ideas about melancholy from antiquity right through to the seventeenth century.
When it comes to the theatrical landscape of Shakespeare’s London, there are the plays whose names we are familiar with — plays like Hamlet and Henry V — and then there are the plays that were being performed around the same time and that Shakespeare’s audiences would have known well, but that are lost to us today. Read an excerpt from a new book about these plays.
Author Nicole Galland gives Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels for Queen Elizabeth I, his proper due. She writes: “Because of Tilney, playwrights became more revered among the reading classes; because of Tilney, only certain playwrights’ works were greatly revered; because of Tilney, Shakespeare was chief among those playwrights. That he remains chief among playwrights is a testament to his genius, of course. But the fact that he was positioned to be recognized as such is largely due to Edmund Tilney.”
Patricia Akhimie writes about racist humor in Shakespeare’s comedies in this excerpt from her essay in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race.
“Its sense of empathy for the gendered position—and the pains and difficulties that accompany it on both sides—is at the heart of its comic warmth,” writes Paula Marantz Cohen about Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” in this excerpt from her new book, “Of Human Kindness: What Shakespeare Teaches Us About Empathy.”
“Shakespeare’s dramas, in my interpretation, play with rival ideas of the nature of the political way,” writes Elizabeth Frazer. Read more in this excerpt from the introduction.
Chloe Gong writes about adapting “Romeo and Juliet” into her debut novel, “These Violent Delights,” which focuses on the blood feud at the heart of Shakespeare’s play. The story is about two teen heirs of rival gangs in 1920s Shanghai.
“I have had a most rare vision…” Bottom’s words in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” echo the language of Spanish conquistadors describing Aztec Mexico.
The excerpt begins: “Dante, poet and man, is obsessive. This is particularly true in the Latin meaning of the word: besiege or be besieged. Shakespeare’s protagonists sometimes are obsessive or besieged. Yet they can and do change. Leontes emerges from his madness. Prospero acknowledges Caliban, this thing of darkness, as his own. Falstaff dies, plucking at flowers and singing the twenty-third Psalm. Dante or Shakespeare? We need not choose. Who are we to choose? They choose us or pass us by.”