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Oxford Shakespeare topics. (Review Essay).

Andrew Gurr and Mariko Ichikawa. Staging in Shakespeare's Theatres. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 181 pp. $39.95 (cl), $19.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-871159-X (cl), 0-19-871158-1 (pbk).

Bruce R. Smith. Shakespeare and Masculinity. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 182 pp. $39.95 (cl), $19.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-871188-3 (cl), 0-19-871189-1 (pbk).

Lawrence Danson. Shakespeare's Dramatic Genres. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 160 pp. $45 (cl), $19.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-871173-5 (cl), 0-19-871172-7 (pbk).

Martin Wiggins. Shakespeare and the Drama of his Time. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 149 pp. $39.95 (cl), $19.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-871161-1 (cl), 0-19-871160-3 (pbk).

Michael Taylor. Shakespeare Criticism in the Twentieth Century. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. x + 278 pp. $39.95 (cl), $18.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-871185-9 (cl), 0-19-711840 (pbk).

Robert S. Miola. Shakespeare's Reading. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 186 pp. $19.95. ISBN: 0-19-871169-7.

Russ McDonald. Shakespeare and the Arts of Language. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. x + 211 pp. $39.95 (cl), $18.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-871170-0 (cl), 0-19-871171-9 (pbk).

Stanley Wells, ed. Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Reprint, 2000. xiv + 337 pp. $35 (cl), $19.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-871177-8 (cl), 0-19-871176-X (pbk).

Steven Marx. Shakespeare and the Bible. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. ix + 165 pp. $39.95 (cl), $19.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-818440-9 (cl), 0-19-818439-5 (pbk).

Zdenek Stribrny. Shakespeare and Eastern Europe. (Oxford Shakespeare Topics.) Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. xiii + 161 pp. $49.95 (cl), $19.95 (pbk). ISBN: 0-19-871165-4 (cl), 0-19-71164-4 (pbk).

Likely many of you reading Renaissance Quarterly have experienced, as have I, a growing divide between scholarship and teaching. The Fordham English Department recently ran a search for a junior medievalist; I found myself mentally applauding those candidates who looked dubious when asked whether undergraduates would show great interest in learning about their dissertation on the etymology of jakes and its unconsidered appearance in twelve manuscripts. The better candidates knew instinctively that our undergraduates, at least, would wilt if asked to read eleven confession manuals as background to one of Chaucer's tales. My own field is early modern bawdy puns, and while students show enthusiasm for Shakespeare s use of prick, they would find Lording Barr/s pun-filled, filthy Ram Alley tedious indeed. Consequently, when I go to conferences given by the Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies and listen to fascinating, nearly unintelligible papers, I catch myself wondering if the speakers are better than I at c arrying their work into the classroom.

It was from this perspective that I agreed to review the Oxford Shakespeare Topics series -- with voyeuristic curiosity, in other words. The series was designed to be "accessible" to students and teachers, a label I would never give my own performances at the GEMCS conference. Surely "short books on important aspects of Shakespeare criticism and scholarship" boils down to classroom behavior. Reading Bruce Smith on Shakespeare and Masculinity will be a window to Professor Smith of the classroom rather than the conference room. And, indeed, voyeuristic pleasures are not among the least in reading the series.

Lawrence Danson opens a chapter of his Shakespeare's Dramatic Genres with a newspaper headline, "BOY KILLED IN TRAGEDY" What is the difference, he asks, between the unprovoked, violent death of a child, and the sense of dramatic inevitability that Aristotle lists as a quality of tragedy? The report of a child killed by a bus may be a tragedy to us, but not to the Greeks. At the best, these books pose questions that we should all be asking in class. I spend little time addressing genre in my Shakespeare course, but Danson's point that although a contemporary genre novel may be the best of its kind, "the modern idea is that great works belong to no specific kind at all," is clearly a terrific way to begin such a discussion (143). As he notes, Shakespeare saw genres as opportunities for inventiveness, not limitation.

Reading the best moments from this series, one feels both opportunistic and argumentative. For instance, Danson claims that there is a dearth of modern works calling themselves tragedy. He suggests that we no longer believe in the outstanding individual whose flue, in other cultures than ours, produced the experience of pity and fear. Yet I did not cry through lam Sam on my lonesome. Which leads to the question of whether an outstanding individual, twenty-first century-style, is necessarily mentally handicapped? Or do we allow only children to be outstanding, fashioning the boundaries of tragedy around potential?

In Shakespeare and the Drama of his Time, Martin Wiggins approaches the same divide between modern and early modern tragic sensibility. He argues that the assumption that "tragic experience is the most authentic" is true for modern sensibilities, but not for seventeenth-century audiences steeped in Christianity (121). Wiggins' questions are not asked about the genres themselves, but about their implementation in the early modern period. He manages a delicate balance between historical accuracy and ideas with compelling reference to the twenty-first century. His discussion of tragicomedy, for example, weighs modern critics' sense of its "debased" pleasures against a seventeenth-century culture "in which it was still possible for everyone to hope to be saved" (122).

Wiggins opens with a strident thesis: Shakespeare was only one among many dramatists, and he imitated them just as they imitated him. The conception of the Bard's "absolute originality and effortless superiority," a belief that leaks from several of the Oxford series books, "ignores everything we know about the occupational circumstances of play-writing in his time" (4). Wiggins moves deftly between explaining theatrical fashions and detailing what Shakespeare did with those fashions. For example, Kyd's and Marlowe's work had far-reaching consequences; even Lyly turned to blank verse for his last play: "The sound of drama had changed forever" (34). But that sea-change wasn't limited to sound. If the central experience of the play for sixteenth-century audiences was Hieronimo's suffering, by the time of Hamlet, the essence of the experience was a relation with another human being. In the move from Marlowe's rolling syllables to Hamlet, we get a clear understanding of Shakespeare's originality, laid as it was o n a foundation of another's brilliance.

Shakespeare and the Drama of his Time ends up being a fascinating discussion of what dictates a play's content. Wiggins organizes his material by a series of fundamental historical changes: the emergence of the London theater industry in the late 1570s, the new kinds of tragedy and comedy in the 1580s and 1590s, respectively, and the development of tragicomedy in the early 1 600s. He convincingly displays the shock that accompanied each new fashion. As I said above, this is an anti-bardolatry book, stressing the fact that while Marlowe's plays sparked a vogue that caused fervent imitation, "Shakespeare never made that kind of impact on his contemporaries and heirs" (132). Like Danson's work on genres, this book makes you think about the inherent pleasures of fiction and why we now insist that those pleasures be "original."

Shakespeare's Reading, by Robert S. Miola, also promises to discuss the issue of Shakespeare's lack of originality. Here, rather than stealing from his contemporaries, Shakespeare appears to be stealing from his nightly reading: "Shakespeare created much of his art from his reading," writes Miola on the first page. Like Wiggins, Miola is convinced that this view of Shakespeare will "shock and disturb" the reader. He explains lack of originality by the medium: the theater "demands a language that is private and public, particular and universal, a language, in other words, created by tradition and shaped by convention" (40).

Miola then devotes himself to listing Shakespeare's alterations of those conventions. In a discussion of Ovid's influence on The Rape of Lucrece, he notes that Shakespeare expands Ovid with lavish use of animal imagery, producing a list including a cockatrice with a dead-killing eye, a night-owl, and a griffin. To return to my classroom paradigm, this book raises the spectre of students dutifully making lists of "original" cockatrices. It may be that Miola geared the book toward a younger audience than did others in the series. Chapter Two begins with the disarmingly naive announcement that "Early in his career Shakespeare wrote poems as well as plays," a statement that leads to synopses of Shakespeare's narrative poems. In fact, each genre-bound chapter tends to fall into plot synopsis. In a discussion focusing on Shakespeare's use of Holinshed, Miola proceeds methodically through Richard II: "Shakespeare invents a scene starring a woman to explore history in terms personal and familiar" (50); "Less didactic ally, Shakespeare reads Richard's story as tragedy" (53); finally, "Shakespeare finds in the Chronicles plots, characters, and ideas" (63). His conclusions are no more than lists of variations from the source: "Shakespeare's use of The True Chronicle History of King Leir illustrates his reading of a contemporary play. He expands character, juxtaposes genres..." (116). His approach is equally simplistic when addressing the comedies: "Shakespeare manipulates the classical conflict to engage audience sympathy for the lovers... [he] varies the traditional formula at every point" (89-90).

Why discuss Peter Zadek's 1978 Hamburg performance of The Winter's Tale? What possible insight into Shakespeare's reading is gained from knowing that Zadek used two tons of plastic green slime to suggest the ooze of life and nature's fecund primal matter? I can see it only as a strained attempt to regain the interest of sleepy undergraduates, an effort that likely determined his request that the reader imagine Venus promises "sweet bottom-grass" in the "sexy female voice of your choice -- that of Lauren Bacall, Kathleen Turner, or Sharon Stone" (24). Oddly enough, the two books that seemed most similar, in their focus on Shakespeare's lack of originality, formed the outposts of the series. Wiggins' Shakespeare and the Drama of his Time is the best of the group I read: gloriously informed and pugnaciously informative. Miola's Shakespeare's Reading is the most disappointing, in its simplistic approach to a complex and theoretically weighty subject.

Likely each reviewer of a series will, by default, find a book that speaks to his or her own subject. I have read series reviews that cheerily bound along until reaching the book falling in the reviewer's own field, at which point the text turns dark and deadly. I am happy to report that my experience has been precisely the opposite. Russ McDonald's Shakespeare and the Arts of Language makes a difficult subject enlivening and thought-provoking, and yet he never falls into the linguist's trap of finding puns in every word. The occupational hazard of Shakespeare linguists is to believe the plays are about language; McDonald never forgets to call a tool a tool. When he notes that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Context is everything," we stand corrected.

Shakespeare and the Arts of Language opens with a rapid review of philology. Without condescending to his audience, McDonald explains signified/signifier, points our the importance of puns with an example from Othello, and borrows from Sigurd Burckhardt to note that poetic properties such as puns are especially valuable for their power to corporealize language. Here he has moved rapidly from a definition of linguistic terminology, to an example from a Shakespeare play, to a thoughtful interpretation of a device's usefulness: "To perceive these linguistic turns or patterns and to sense the security of an artistic structure is to achieve a small intellectual victory over the disorder of normal existence" (6). He achieves the difficult task of making linguistic dissection seem meaningful to undergraduates.

McDonald spends a good deal of the book talking about the concept of rhetorical maturity. For example, Richard II is cited as a work "in which we can observe the apprentice becoming a master" (41). He proves his point by looking at the deployment of rhetorical formulae. After this play, Shakespeare deserts the "extra-vagrant patterning" of his early years. But toward the end of his career, Shakespeare found a renewed commitment to the pleasures of unconcealed artifice. By Antony and Cleopatra, he has "transcended the doubts about the duplicities of speech, the harlotry of words, that had occupied him so thoroughly in plays like King Lear" (47). He returns to what McDonald calls a "devotion to the surface" (48). Interestingly, McDonald's close reading of Shakespeare's language makes an excellent addendum to Wiggins' work. Wiggins evoked the shock of the ten-syllable line; McDonald discusses Shakespeare wrestling with the tyranny of that line, replacing it with a "productive counterpoint between sentence and li ne" (98). Wiggins described the new mode of tragicomedy; McDonald finds that "it was the experience of telling tragicomic stories that prompted [Shakespeare] to revise his sense of language" (191). Reading the books back to back gives a sense of telescoping from all early modern drama to the particular linguistic interests of one dramatist.

The same sort of telescoping occurs within Bruce Smith's Shakespeare and Masculinity, which constantly moves from the cultural makeup of early modern men to the imaginative representations created by one such early modern man. Shakespeare and Masculinity provides a good background to early modern humor theory and contemporary gender theory. Smith begins with a bow to Judith Butler, who seems to be everywhere in queer studies. The words Butler-gender-performance in some combination pop up in the beginning or end of every book, like the crown on a homecoming queen. For those of you less versed in Midwestern culture, the homecoming queen provides a flamboyant display of ritual femininity, after a full day of male hero-worship on the football field. (In the interests of full disclosure, I admit to putting Butler in the end of my own book on queer puns.) Smith uses Butler's idea of gender as performance to note that "plays provide a perfect means of investigating cultural and historical difference with respect to gender identity" (2). The offered proof is Caius Martius' transformation into Coriolanus. Shakespeare's comedies, Smith notes, "often invite the conclusion that masculinity is more like a suit of clothes that can be put on and taken off at will than a matter of biological destiny" (3). Masculinity must be achieved, and the appearance of it, at least, can be achieved by cross-dressing women such as Julia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Viola/Cesario in Twelfth Night: "Masculinity in all these instances is a matter of contingency, or circumstances, of performance" (4).

Smith does bring in Shakespeare's contemporaries wherever he can, but the focus of the series dictates a full platter of evidence taken from Shakespeare's own plays. By the end of the third chapter, relentless Shakespeare citation gives one the sense that Shakespeare didn't represent early modern masculinity "in its full perplexity," he created it. Obviously Smith is not to blame for this, and the range of cultural material he cites is astonishing. I'm not sure how it could have been avoided except that in my view one cannot say too often that Shakespeare was no window to the view of his contemporaries. Shakespeare's men -- like Shakespeare's women -- are unlike Middleton's men or Jonson's women, for that matter.

I finished Shakespeare and Masculinity feeling as if I had taken an extraordinarily good course on Shakespeare's representation of early modern gender. The text balanced between thoroughly informed facts and provocative questions about the contingency of gender then and now. When Smith notes that masculinity is forged by comparison to "others" (women, foreigners, persons of lower social rank, sodomites), and is represented by Shakespeare as "precarious" and "contingent," his argument irresistibly leads to questions about twenty-first century masculine performance. The least successful of Shakespeare Topics series raise no questions that might engage a less than historically entranced undergraduate. These point to classrooms in which the teacher clutches a ream of paper, and no questions can be asked because the information given is so specialized as to preclude participation other than note-taking. These books generally achieve the level of original scholarship, with its attendant failures in communication.

Steven Marx's Shakespeare and the Bible is an example of the latter type. Marx's knowledge of the Bible is wide-ranging. He moves back and forth between Shakespeare's text and the Old and New Testaments with breathtaking fluidity. This book is in some ways the most original of the series, although it may be that originality is not called for at this level of scholarship. Marx finds in Shakespeare's texts a combination of typology and midrash, or "creative exegisis," that "makes word-play, story-telling, and interpretation come together to liberate pleasure, creativity and knowledge" (11). In fact, midrash becomes the tool by which Marx reshapes Henry V, Lear, Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest. To take Measure for Measure as an example, Marx details the ways in which the character list resonates with certain Biblical figures, a fact long noted and disputed. He is committed to seeing the Duke as God, and he wields a tremendous number of biblical references in order to push the characte r into line with his Biblical model. Inevitably, the parallel becomes strained, particularly when addressing the Duke's continued trickery of Isabella. True, Jesus can be read as tricking his disciples when he takes them onto a boat in the storm. Yet the argument that the Duke lies to Isabella in order "to wean her from the pharisaical righteousness that converts frustration and grief into a desire for revenge" (91) is dubious and has no obvious parallel to Jesus' seagoing propensities.

Many of Marx's parallels are similarly forced. While Lucio/Lucifer is indeed coerced into joining the community of married persons, I sincerely doubt that Shakespeare had any thought of Paul's prophecy that the Jews would be grafted into the community of faithful. Employment of midrash in a series promising to be accessible to undergraduates grants it an unwarranted claim to truth. Giving this particular book to undergraduates would lead to papers making rigid typological parallels, a practice I consistently discourage.

Another rather arcane offshoot of Shakespeare studies is found in Zdenek Stribrny's Shakespeare and Eastern Europe. I had trouble envisioning the audience for this book, a masterful account of Shakespeare's impact on Eastern and East Central Europe from the 1600s to the present day. The information offered comes at such a remove from my teaching focus that it threatened to be irrelevant. I was only mildly interested when Stribrny argued that Pickleherring, a comic character popular in East Central Europe, provides a "remarkable parallel" to Autolycus. Autolycus sings a great deal, and so does Pickleherring. Autolycus enthuses over ale; so does Pickleherring. The burning question of whether Shakespeare influenced Pushkin's Boris Godunov is not going to be resolved by pointing out that the False Pretender Dimitry; threatened with exposure, assumes "the self-assertive role of Angelo in Measure for Measure" (38). It was interesting to learn that Tolstoy felt "repulsion, weariness, and bewilderment" when reading Shakespeares plays. We whose wallets depend on the Bard rarely admit that the Fool's bawdry may evoke "the wearisome uneasiness which one experiences when listening to jokes which are not witty" (51).

Stribrny does an excellent job of communicating the political work accomplished by Shakespeare productions behind the iron curtain. The first Czech adaptation of Shakespeare was made into toilet paper; Othellos were produced all over the Soviet Union in sixteen languages; there was a Hamlet fever in 1954, after Stalin lifted his veto on the play. He describes one Hamlet in which the gravediggers were constantly on the stage, a Romeo and Juliet with delicately inserted scenes detailing the lovers' neglect of their servants, and a Love's Labor's Lost in which the King of Navarre swore his oaths on an iron curtain. The second half of the book showed astonishing range and knowledge, the gift of a scholar who shows Shakespearean deftness in bridging countries and centuries.

A similar kind of pleasure comes from reading Stanley Well's Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism. Wells gathers eye-witness accounts of Shakespeare performances from the seventeenth century to the present. His point, in the introduction, that "every production, however 'traditional' in style, belongs inescapably to its time" was certainly proven by the collected reviews and accounts (15). Here, for example, Charles Lamb waxes enthusiastic about a Malvolio: "How he went smiling to himself! with what ineffable carelessness would he twirl his gold chain! what a dream it was! you were infected with the illusion, and did not wish that it should be removed! you had no room for laughter!" (31). Lamb's blithe use of exclamation marks dominates our glimpse of a grinning Malvolio. In the best of these accounts, the writing of the critic and the performance in question share the stage. Virginia Woolf writes of Sir Andrew's "I was adored once": we hold him "in the hollow of our hands; a novelist would h ave taken three volumes to bring us to that pitch of intimacy" (207). There is a sense of conjunction between writer and performance, an understanding that the "pitch of intimacy" was vitally important to Woolf.

Naturally enough, the negative reviews are most pleasurable. It is much harder to visualize a Volumnia whose soul was apparently "dilating, and rioting in its exultation" (38), than to grasp Leigh Hunt's sour observation that a "Roman matron did not think it essential to her dignity to step about with her head thrown half a yard back, as if she had a contempt for her own chin" (61). Part of the pleasure here comes from having escaped the production in which Mamillius ran a little cart back and forward dozens of times, "like one of those little squirrels that have been trained to feed themselves" (97). Hurrah for having been born too late for the Dream in which fairies had been fitted up with "portable batteries and incandescent lights, which they switch on and off from time to time, like children with a new toy" (139).

Shakespeare in the Theatre is a long and motley assortment, and some accounts might have been omitted. Hearing by way of one Herbert Farjeon that Edith Evans was masterful in The Merry Wives of Windsor ("She is that rare thing, an actress with both breadth and subtlety She is that equally rare thing...etc.) is simply to hear Mr. Farjeon's voice (202). We can only translate his comment that the performance is "essentially so jolly" by thinking hard about language in 1949. Wells notes that "an ever-increasing exercise of the historical imagination is demanded if we are to have any sense of what [acting and production styles] meant to their contemporaries" (15). But how can one recover a "jolly" production from 1949, unless one is either a linguist or a theater historian?

Andrew Gurr and Mariko Ichikawa's Staging in Shakespeare's Theatres devotes itself to giving the reader precisely the necessary tools by which to recover productions from Shakespeare's own time. This book reconstructs, as far as possible, the ways in which Shakespeare's plays were originally staged. Gurr and Ichikawa offer a wealth of useful information about rehearsals, text preparation for performance, staging conditions, stage properties, audience comfort, and doubling practices in the playhouse. The least successful moments involve a move from practice to idiosyncratic supposition. For example, Gurr and Ichikawa say that Heywood "was also a lot more demanding over staging than Shakespeare, whose tightfistedness in his personal finances may also be reflected in the economy of the demands he laid on his company for staging his plays" (45). Similarly, the suggestion that Martin Slater and Thomas Swinnerton avoided playing in London during their professional life because the work was too hard is pure supposition.

The kind of lax research that appeared in Gurr's Playgoing in Shakespeare's London unfortunately recurs here. To give one example, the Salisbury Court theater is described as being built in 1627 in the Whitefriars. In fact, it was located in the parish of St. Bridget, rather than the parish of St. Dunstan's of the West that encompassed the Whitefriars. Moreover, English Professional Theatre, 1530-1660 reveals that the land was leased for the theater in July 1629, and the playhouse built in 1629-30.

The chapter "The Ins and Outs of Stage Movement" would make an interesting exercise in a performance course. The authors discuss the interruption of Shakespeare's exits, and determine that each exit has a given duration. Most commonly Exit/Exeunt indicates the beginning of a process, not a single action to be immediately completed. They conclude that major characters take four lines to leave the stage, whereas minor characters are allowed only two.

The final chapter, a detailed case study of early staging of Hamlet, encompasses the best and the worst of the volume, pairing informed investigation with unlikely interpretation. Ophelia's grave scene is a good example. Gurr and Ichikawa argue that the moment when Hamlet confronts Laertes has been misinterpreted by "centuries of editors" (153). Hamlet is not announcing that he is king, a "misunderstood piece of play acting." Instead, he "hysterically . . . parodies his father's own advent." The trap-as-grave has reminded him of his encounter with the ghost: "Hamlet plays his dead father the king returning from the place of the dead. It is another of his Impersonations, his play-acting, but it is one that nobody on stage, other than Horatio, can possibly understand." It is not at all clear how Hamlet's parody" could be communicated to the audience. Similarly, it strikes me as at least questionable that Elizabethan audiences would have seen Hamlet's leap into the trap as confirming his "readiness to enter hell like Laertes in pursuit of his revenge" (153).

A move from Gurr and Ichikawa's creative, improbable interpretation to a discussion of yet more creative interpretations seems appropriate. I conclude this review with Michael Taylor's Shakespeare Criticism in the Twentieth Century, a brilliant summarization of appropriations of Shakespeare. Here we are in the very thick of the language that I consign to the GEMCS conference. As Taylor frankly puts it, "Since the l960s criticism has often been fiendishly difficult" (25). It takes a very clever analyst indeed to sort through the arcane language in which we Shakespeareans now write about our primary source. Derridean-Marxist-feminist criticism has its own vocabulary, and not one accessible to everyone. But Taylor manages to clarify obtuse off-shoots of Shakespearean thought. He succeeds in making our work look like an on-going conversation rather than a obstreperous hullabaloo.

One interesting focus of Taylor's book is "over-reading," to use Carol Neely's term. Taylor points out that over-reading responds to a wish to rewrite the canon, re-issuing the civilized canon with the desirable pieties of twentieth-century thought. Yet, as he says, "the potential for unconstrained reading to excess is always inherent in the hospitable greatness of the book itself," i.e., in Shakespeare's plays. Tracing the florescence of Shakespeare criticism in the twentieth century, one can see that over-reading stretches far beyond Neely's feminist agenda. As Taylor notes, "a compensatory babble of talk from twentieth-century critics fills in the silences of Shakespeare's major characters" (59). Although we jauntily dismiss Bradley's questions about Lady Macbeth's offspring, there seems to be a good deal of Bradley-esque criticism going on, in which minor characters, in particular, are given provocative personalities. Taylor argues that "Bradley's speculations about the facts of the characters' pasts have been replaced by speculations about their hidden motives and complex desires," citing T.G. Bishop's analysis of The Winter's Tale in which Leontes becomes a "dark cartoon" of Mamillius grown up (59). Needless to say, the evidence for these speculations is often absent. Taylor calls the impulse "adversarially democratic" (63). In other words, twentieth-century Shakespeareans long to deglamorize kings and replace them with a glamorization of ordinary folk.

Taylor notes that "there has never been such a constant process of generation and regeneration as in the criticism of Shakespeare in the twentieth century" (16). It seems fitting to end a review that covered a minor flourish in that process with his examination of the history of Shakespeare criticism. After all, nowhere is what Taylor calls the "industrialized" nature of Shakespeare criticism clearer than in the handsome, brief, and pricey little books encompassed in the Oxford Shakespeare Topics series.
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Title Annotation:ten books on Shakespeare
Author:Bly, Mary
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2002
Words:4738
Previous Article:Pisanello Redux. (Review Essay).
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