'As ever, Orgel writes with verve and piercing intelligence. He tackles familiar material and brings it up gleaming bright, fresh and new...All in all, the read is a real delight...' - Professor Peter Holland, Director and Professor of Shakespeare Studies, University of Notre Dame, USA
Stephen Orgel has arguably been the single most important voice shaping
the research agenda of English Renaissance literary studies for the past
thirty years. Imagining Shakespeare shows Orgel at his best - lucid, incisive, lively, learned, and always surprising as he teases out the implications of 'what we mean by Shakespeare', as well as how and what Shakespeare can mean. The essays are each subtle, supple, and always wonderfully alert. They are dense and complex but beautifully clear. Orgel is indeed master of all he surveys here, moving almost effortlessly through fields of textual scholarship, performance study, social history, history of art, and impressive local readings of the plays. No one working in the field could fail to take notice of this book. No one who reads it could fail to be, in almost equal measure, instructed and delighted.' - David Kastan, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
'The author elegantly... explores the changeable natures of [Shakespeare] and the ways in which his dramatic output has been interpreted....This would book would repay, with dividends, careful study by actors, directors and other teachers of literature and drama. Highly recommended. ' - Larry Schwartz, Library Journal
'[An] excellent new collection of essays...Orgel provides a history of attempts by 18th and 19th-century artists to produce a likeness more worthy of Shakespeare.' - London Review of Books
Orgel is celebrated for his work on the masques of the Stuart court and other visual aspects of Renaissance staging. These elegant and witty chapters return to those concerns but treat a considerable variety of different topics, nearly all lending themselves to vivid illustration. One chapter deals with the now familiar point that Elizabethan plays were necessarily the products of collaboration. More enlivening are a valuable study of the Shakespeare portraits and a brilliantly clever chapter on the sexual undertones of A Midsummer Night's Dream. A study of Shylock gives ample evidence of Orgel's highly individual scholarship.' - Frank Kermode, The New York Times
If Shakespeare were alive today, it's a dead cinch that he would spend most of his time in court suing the various and sundry compilers of the First Folio and railing against unauthorized performances of the not-quite-refined versions of his plays contained therein. Orgel (Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Humanities, Stanford Univ.) writes that what we know as the "texts" of the plays are far from being codified, making a very fluid thing out of what we "imagine" Shakespeare (and the plays) to be. Drawing on various lectures and articles published between 1979 and 2003, the author elegantly and simply explores the changeable nature of the man and the ways in which his dramatic output has been interpreted. The first chapter examines the notion of reality behind Shakespeare's imagination, as well as the sets upon which the plays have been presented, while a subsequent chapter treats the history within the nonhistorical and historical plays. Shakespeare's iconography, A Midsummer Night's Dream and its use of magic and sexuality, and the power of a minor character are also discussed, among other things. This book would repay, with dividends, its careful study by actors, directors, and other teachers of literature and drama. Highly recommended for academic libraries.-Larry Schwartz, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Moorhead Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.