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Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare's Macbeth / Edition 1

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Overview

In Witches and Jesuits, Wills focuses on a single document to open up a window on an entire society. He begins with a simple question: If Macheth is such a great tragedy, why do performances of it so often fail? Wills maintains that the fault lies not in Shakespeare's play, but in ourselves. Drawing on his intimate knowledge of the vivid intrigue and drama of Jacobean England, Wills restores Macheth's suspenseful tension by returning it to the context of its own time, recreating the burning theological and political crises of Shakespeare's era, such as the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when a small cell of Jesuits came within a hairsbreadth of successfully blowing up not only the King, but the Prince his heir, and all members of the court and Parliament. Wills likens their shock to that endured by Americans following Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination. In this new light, Macheth is transformed. Wills presents a drama that is more than a well-scripted story of a murderer getting his just penalty, it is the struggle for the soul of a nation.

Drawing on his intimate knowledge of the vivid intrigue and drama of Jacobean England, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg restores Macbeth's suspenseful tension by returning it to the context of its own time, recreating the burning theological and political crises of Shaekespeare's era.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195102901
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,461,968
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Garry Wills

About the Author:

Garry Wills' many best-selling books include Nixon Agonistes, Reagan's America, and the 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning Lincoln at Gettysburg.

Biography

Born in Atlanta in 1934 and raised in the Midwest, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and distinguished religion writer Garry Wills entered the Jesuit seminary after high school graduation, but left after six years of training. He received a B.A. from St. Louis University (1957), an M.A. from Xavier University of Cincinnati (1958), and his Ph.D. in classics from Yale (1961).

After graduating from Xavier, Wills was hired to work as the drama critic for National Review magazine, where he became a close personal friend and protégé of founding editor William F. Buckley. But as the winds of change blew across the 1960s, Wills got caught up in the cross-currents. A staunch Catholic anti-Communist in his youth, he began to drift away from political conservatism, galvanized by the civil rights movement and the Vietnam debate. He parted ways with National Review and began writing for more liberal-leaning publications like Esquire and the New York Review of Books, a defection that left him slightly estranged from Buckley for many years. (They reconciled before Buckley's death in 2008.)

In 1961, while he was still in grad school, Wills's first book, Chesterton: Man and Mask was published. [It was revised and reissued in 2001 with a new author's introduction.] Since then, the prolific Wills has gone on to pen critically acclaimed nonfiction that roams across history, politics, and religion. He expanded one of his Esquire articles into Nixon Agonistes (1970), a probing profile John Leonard said "...reads like a combination of H. L. Mencken, John Locke and Albert Camus." (The book landed Wills on the famous Nixon's Enemies List.) He has also written penetrating studies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Wayne, and Saint Paul; he has won two National Book Critics Circle Awards; and his 1992 book Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

Something of a rara avis, Wills is a Catholic intellectual who has produced thoughtful, scholarly books on religion in America. His translations of St. Augustine have received glowing reviews, and he has acted both as an outspoken critic of the Church (Papal Sin) and as an ardent advocate for his own faith Why I Am a Catholic). Proof of his accessibility can be found in the fact that several of his religion books have become bestsellers.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      May 22, 1934
    2. Place of Birth:
      Atlanta, GA
    1. Education:
      St. Louis University, B.A., 1957; Xavier University, M.A., 1958; Yale University, Ph.D., 1961

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Trouble with Macbeth 1
1 Gunpowder 11
2 Witches 33
3 Male Witch 51
4 Lady Macbeth 75
5 Jesuits 91
6 Malcolm 107
7 Macbeth 125
Conclusion: The Test of Performance 145
Appendix I: Date of the Play 151
Appendix II: Text of the Play 159
Key to Brief Citations 165
Notes 167
Line Index to the Play 203
Index of Names 207
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