How to study Shakespeare, with articles on general literature and directions for forming and conducting study circles by Hamilton Wright Mabie | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
How to Study Shakespeare: With Articles on General Literature and Directions for Forming and Conducting Study Circles

How to Study Shakespeare: With Articles on General Literature and Directions for Forming and Conducting Study Circles

by Hamilton Wright Mabie, C. Alphonso Smith, Henry Van Dyke
     
 

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An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter:

IT is one thing to read and another thing to study; and yet reading is the chief means and the best method of study when one is trying to understand a writer or a piece of literature. The lover of Shakespeare begins by reading the plays for pure pleasure and ends by reading them for greater pleasure. In the

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An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter:

IT is one thing to read and another thing to study; and yet reading is the chief means and the best method of study when one is trying to understand a writer or a piece of literature. The lover of Shakespeare begins by reading the plays for pure pleasure and ends by reading them for greater pleasure. In the meantime, he may, so to speak, have taken them to pieces, examined their construction, looked at the words in which they are written with a microscope, traced their historical connections, gone back to their sources. In doing this work of analysis-for it is necessary to take a thing to pieces in order to find out how it is put together-he may become so much interested in the detail of the work that he loses sight of Shakespeare altogether and becomes a student of language, grammar, the structure of style, the evolution of the drama. This is what sometimes happens to the scholar; in studying what may be called the mechanics of a work of art he loses sight of the art itself. To such a student the plays of Shakespeare become a quarry out of which great masses of knowledge may be taken. This is the study of Shakespeare's language, methods, construction; but it is not the study of Shakespeare; and it is with the study of Shakespeare that this paper concerns itself. The best approach to a great book is by the way of simple enjoyment. If I am to see the Sistine Madonna for the first time I wish, above all things, to give myself up to the pure delight of looking at the most beautiful picture ever painted by man; I wish to surrender myself to the great painter and let his thought, expressed on the canvas, sink clear and deep into my spirit. I wish to keep myself out of sight; to postpone analysis, minute study of detail, the critical attitude. First and foremost I want to hear what Raphael has to say, and I can best do that by keeping silent myself. After I have heard him I can argue with him, criticise him, condemn him if I choose; but I must first hear him to the end and without interruption. In like manner, if I wish to know Shakespeare, I must give him a full, free opportunity of telling me what he thinks of life, how he understands it, what it means as its workings are revealed in the careers of men and women; and if I am to get any impression of his way of telling his story I must surrender myself to him and let him do what he can with me. These are the first things I must do; and, if I care more for the substance of things than for their peculiarities of structure, more for the truth they have to impart than for the order of words in which they impart that truth, more for the living spirit than for the skeleton in which it is lodged, these are the things to which I shall come back when I have taken the plays to pieces and examined their mechanism with a microscope. The end of art is to deepen the sense of life and to give delight and exhilaration; any kind of study which secures these results is good; all kinds which miss them are bad. To begin with, then, the student of Shakespeare is to remember that he is dealing with a great human spirit and not with a mass of literary material; that he is never to lose the feeling of reverence which such a spirit inspires; that he is handling human documents and not the stuff of which grammars and rhetorics are made....

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781495492624
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
02/09/2014
Pages:
102
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.21(d)

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