Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels / Edition 1

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The last twenty years have seen an increasing fragmentation in Shakespeare studies, with the emergence of several critical schools, each with its own ideology, each convinced that all other approaches are deficient. In this important book, Brian Vickers argues that, in attempting to appropriate Shakespeare for their own purposes, each of these schools distorts the text by omission and misrepresentation. Two substantial opening chapters trace the derivation of current literary theory from the iconoclastic mood of l960s Paris. They show how an influential group of thinkers in the structuralist and post-structuralist tradition (Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Lacan, Althusser, Derrida, Foucault) promulgated a wholly negative concept of language, arguing that language cannot reliably represent reality; that literature cannot represent life; and that since no definitive reading is possible, all interpretation is misrepresentation. Vickers demonstrates that these attitudes have been decisively refuted, restates the central properties of language, and rehabilitates the notion of the author as creator of a literary work. At the core of the book he surveys the main conflicting schools in Shakespearian literary criticism - deconstructionism, feminism, new historicism, cultural materialism, and psychoanalytic, Marxist and Christian interpretations - describing the theoretical basis of each school, both in its own words and in those of its critics. Evaluating the resulting interpretations of Shakespeare, he shows that each is biased and fragmentary in its own way. Solidly researched, sharply argued and inevitably controversial, this book challenges many recent orthodoxies. As well as to theatre goers and readers of Shakespeare and Elizabethan drama, it will be of great interest to anyone concerned with modern literary theory.
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Editorial Reviews

Vickers argues that all of the several schools of Shakespeare criticism today, each proclaiming their own rightness and everyone else's wrongness, distort the text by omission and misrepresentation. He refutes the iconoclastic ideas from Paris of the 1960s, which he blames for the whole mess, then explains the theoretical basis of deconstructionism, feminism, new historicism, cultural materialism, and psychoanalytic Marxist and Christian interpretations, and who how each is biased and fragmentary. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300061055
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 525
  • Product dimensions: 6.21 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. I Critical Theories
1 The Diminution of Language: Saussure to Derrida 3
2 Creator and Interpreters 92
Pt. II Critical Practices 163
3 Deconstruction: Undermining, Overreaching 165
4 New Historicism: Disaffected Subjects 214
5 Psychocriticism: Finding the Fault 272
6 Feminist Stereotypes: Misogyny, Patriarchy, Bombast 325
7 Christians and Marxists: Allegory, Ideology 372
Epilogue Masters and Demons 417
Notes 442
Bibliography 491
Index 501
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