A Notebook on William Shakespeare

A Notebook on William Shakespeare

by Edith Sitwell


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First published in 1948, this book may be described as Dame Edith Sitwell's personal notebook. It consists of essays on the subject of the general aspect of the plays-those great hymns to the principle and the glory of life, in which there are the same differences in nature, in matter, in light, in darkness, in movement, that we find in the universe, and in which the characters are so vast they seem each an element (Water, Hamlet; Air, Romeo and Juliet; Fire, King Lear) and which yet bear the stamp of our common humanity, made greater and more universal. There are long essays on King Lear, Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet. Dame Edith believes, with all humility, that she has discovered new sources of the inspiration of King Lear, throwing a new light on the whole play, and giving new meanings to the mad scenes, of an unsurpassable grandeur, depth, and terror. There are shorter essays also on other of the tragedies. The keynotes of many of the plays are examined (not all the plays are discussed), a phrase is studied and will be found to hold the whole meaning of the play.

There are essays on many of the comedies, and long passages about the Fools and Clowns. Connecting levels are traced between the philosophies of the plays. There are, too, running commentaries on Shakespeare as that ' common-kissing Titan ', and, since the book is a personal notebook, the author makes copious quotations from the writings of Shakespearean scholars who have thrown light on the various aspects of which she treats, and from works on other subjects which also serve to illumine his mighty and many-sided genius.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781448200702
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 01/31/2013
Pages: 322
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was born into an aristocratic family and, along with her brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, had a significant impact on the artistic life of the 20s. She encountered the work of the French symbolists, Rimbaud in particular, early in her writing life and became a champion of the modernist movement, editing six editions of the controversial magazine Wheels. She remained a crusading force against philistinism and conservatism throughout her life and her legacy lies as much in her unstinting support of other artists as it does in her own poetry.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xi

I The Hymn to Life 1

II Of the Clowns and Fools 8

III Note on Comedy and Tragedy 18

IV Some General Notes on the Tragedies 20

V 'Macbeth' 30

VI 'King Lear' 60

VII Some Notes on 'Hamlet' 102

VIII 'Othello, the Moor of Venice' 121

IX 'Timon of Athens' 151

X A Note on 'Measure for Measure' 156

XI The Flowering Darkness: 'Romeo and Juliet' 168

XII 'Antony and Cleopatra' 174

XIII 'Julius Caesar' 185

XIV 'Titus Andronicus' 194

XV Two Notes on 'Troilus and Cressida' 196

XVI 'Troilus and Cressida', 'The Henriad', Shakespeare and Marlowe 202

XVII Note on the Historical Tragedies 209

XVIII Some General Notes on the Tragedies Relating to the English Kings 210

XIX Some General Notes on the Comedies 230

XX 'Twelfth Night' 232

XXI 'As You Like It' 235

XXII Note on 'All's Well that Ends Well' 241

XXIII Some Notes on the Texture of 'A Midsummer-Night's Dream' 245

XXIV Two Notes on 'The Merchant of Venice' 256

XXV Two Early Comedies 262

XXVI The Later Plays 267

XXVII Some Notes on 'The Winter's Tale' 268

XXVIII 'Pericles' 273

XXIX 'The Tempest' 279

XXX Notes on the Texture of the Verse in 'Cymbeline' 290

XXXI A Note on Sonnet XIX 297

XXXII Some General Comments 299

A Note on the Author 307

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