Shakespeare, the King's Playwright: Theater in the Stuart Court, 1603-1613 / Edition 1

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More About This Textbook


Soon after James Stuart became king of England in 1603, William Shakespeare, while still working in the public theater, became the royal playwright, and his acting troupe became the premier playing company of the realm. How did this courtly setting influence Shakespeare's work? What was it like to view, perform in, and write plays conceived for the Stuart king? In this fascinating and lively book, one of our most eminent literary critics explores these questions by taking us back to the court performances of some of Shakespeare's most famous plays, examining them in their settings at the royal palaces of Whitehall and Hampton Court. Alvin Kernan looks at Shakespeare as a patronage playwright whose work after 1603 focused on the main concerns of his royal patron: divine-right kingship in Lear, the corruption of the court in Antony, the difficulties of the old military aristocracy in Coriolanus, and other vital matters. Kernan argues that Shakespeare was neither the royal propagandist nor the political subversive that the New Historicists have made him out to be. He was, instead, a great dramatist whose plays commented on political and social concerns of his patrons and who sought the most satisfactory way of adjusting his art to court needs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300072587
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 258
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Shakespeare at the Stuart Court
1 Art and Theater in the Service of the Leviathan State 1
2 Blood Revenge in Elsinore and in Holyrood: Hamlet, Hampton Court, Christmas 1603 24
3 The King's Prerogative and the Law: Measure for Measure, Whitehall, December 26, 1604 50
4 The Politics of Madness and Demonism: Macbeth, Hampton Court, August 7, 1606 71
5 The True King: Lear, Whitehall, Christmas 1606 89
6 Sex and Favor in the Court: Antony and Cleopatra, Whitehall, Christmas 1607 106
7 The Military and the Court Aristocracies: Coriolanus, Whitehall, Christmas 1608 132
8 The King and the Poet: The Tempest, Whitehall, Winter 1613 150
9 Shakespeare's Sonnets and Patronage Art 169
10 What the King Saw, What the Poet Wrote 188
Appendix A: Theatrical Calendar of the King's Men at Court, 1603-14 203
Appendix B: The Great Hall at Christ Church, Oxford, August 1605 209
Bibliography 211
Index 221
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