Shakespeare: The Basics / Edition 2

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"The way in which Shakespeare's plays are studied has undergone considerable change in recent years. The new edition of this guide, aimed squarely at the student new to Shakespeare, is based on the exciting novel approaches shaping Shakespeare studies. This volume provides a thorough general introduction to the plays." Sean McEvoy illustrates how interpretations of Shakespeare are linked to cultural and political contexts and provides readings of the most frequently studied plays in the light of contemporary critical thought. Now fully updated to include discussion of criticism and performance in the last five years, a new chapter on Shakespeare on film, and a broader critical approach, this book is the essential resource for all students of Shakespeare.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
McEvoy (English and drama, Vardean Coll., UK) provides an up-to-date introduction to Shakespeare. He covers all of the basics, even explaining how to find a line citation. Part 1 concentrates on the text and covers Shakespeare's language, stage action in the 16th century, and the plays as performance pieces. Part 2 covers five play genres, including romance and mixed-genre plays. McEvoy clearly identifies his critical approach as new historicism and cultural materialism influenced by feminist ideas. Yet he does not exclude traditional, psychoanalytical, or performance study approaches from his discussion, emphasizing that there is more than one way to study and enjoy Shakespeare's works. The book effectively summarizes the current status of Shakespeare masterpieces, meets McEvoy's goal of preparing students for college-level courses, and covers more ground than Shakespeare for Dummies (LJ 7/99). Suggestions for additional study are included. This is recommended for all public and academic libraries.--Shana C. Fair, Ohio Univ. Lib., Zanesville Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Taking on the challenge of demystifying the bard's plays for Shakespeare virgins, McEvoy (English and drama, Varndean College; Brighton, UK) provides a concise, user-friendly guide to understanding the texts, their classification by genre, and types of stage action. Includes highlighted material on aspects of early modern language and views on theatre, period illustrations, contemporary play photos, and a 16th-17th century chronology. No mention is made of recent film versions that may serve as introductions to Shakespeare. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
paper: 0-415-21289-8 McEvoy, a British professor of drama and English, offers graduating high school seniors a concise and even-handed view of the Bard the way they'll be expected to see him in college English classes. Every school of modern thought seems to have found a way to draw Shakespeare into its arsenal of argumentation; in particular, the Marxists and the feminists have found much to say about A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. McEvoy is refreshing in that he takes no sides and instead presents these and other (more traditional) views of the greatest English playwright's work with grace and finesse. His goal is to prepare the high school student, who has been forced to read these plays as mere books—ripe for extraction of plot and character—for a university-level analysis of Shakespearean drama. McEvoy makes a nuanced, multifaceted argument for the plays as theater, not literature, emphasizing the importance to Shakespeare of stage directions, the physical orientation of the playhouse, and interaction with the audience. He presents each controversial aspect of textual meaning through several different ideological prisms, with particular attention (but not favoritism) given to feminist critique. Sidebars in each chapter build a sturdy cultural context, surveying the historical evolution of gender roles, social mobility, theater companies, playhouses, and more. The second half of McEvoy's study tracks the principal features of each Shakespearean genre, suggesting (but not insisting) that certain overarching themes tie histories, tragedies, comedies, and romances together in a coherent, if not neat, bundle. A minor criticism could be lodgedagainstthis American edition for stubbornly refusing to adapt to the idiom of its new audience: US college freshmen are likely to be nonplussed by references to `A-levels,` professional soccer, and British popular culture. A strong, systematic, and ideologically unbiased introduction to Shakespeare, bound to deepen any reader's appreciation for the great playwright, and particularly suited to prepare college freshmen for deeper reading of Elizabethan drama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415362450
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 9/6/2006
  • Series: Basics Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Sean McEvoy teaches English and Classical literature at Varndean Sixth Form College Brighton, where he also co-ordinates the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. He has taught at Cambridge and Sussex universities and has been a visiting lecturer on the Shakespeare MA course at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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Table of Contents

1 Shakespeare's language (1) 11
2 Shakespeare's language (2) 31
3 Types of stage action 55
4 The plays in performance 71
5 Shakespeare on film 105
6 What is genre? 131
7 Understanding comedy : The taming of the shrew, A midsummer night's dream, Measure for measure, The merchant of Venice and Twelfth night 139
8 Understanding history : King Richard II, King Henry IV part I and King Henry V 175
9 Understanding tragedy : Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello 208
10 Understanding romance : The winter's tale and The tempest 241
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