After Shakespeare

After Shakespeare : An Anthology

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Description

No writer has served as such a powerful source of inspiration for other writers as Shakespeare. No writer has attracted such widespread and varied comment. This unique anthology draws on the vast literature that plays little part in formal Shakespeare criticism and scholarship, but that shows with immediacy and passion the enormous impact Shakespeare has had on our cultural life. Novelists, poets, and playwrights are all represented. So are philosophers, historians, composers, film-makers, politicians. Shakespearean characters and motifs are shown fuelling the genius of Goethe and Dostoevsky, Aldous Huxley and Emily Dickinson, John Updike and Duke Ellington, Nabokov and Proust. Shakespeare the man fires the imagination of Kipling and Joyce, Borges and Anthony Burgess. Herman Melville writes a poem about Falstaff. D. H. Lawrence anatomizes Hamlet. R. K. Narayan describes a Shakespeare lesson in an Indian classroom. John Osborne adapts Coriolanus. Ionescu reworks Macbeth. The choice of critical responses is equally wide-ranging. Jean-Paul Sartre proves an unexpectedly expert commentator on King Lear. Alfred Dreyfus and Nelson Mandela console themselves with Shakespeare during their imprisonment. And curiosities abound - parodies, burlesques, strange echoes and eccentricities. Throughout the book we can see Shakespeare changing lives, opening up fresh horizons and reaching out to 'the great globe itself'.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 374 pages
  • 137.7 x 253 x 27.4mm | 589.68g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0192804723
  • 9780192804723

Review Text

This is an anthology of remarkable breadth given that it is made up of responses to one man - which shows how provocative and inspirational his work is. Gross has cast his net wide but avoided traditional scholarship and academic criticism on the basis that such anthologies are readily available elsewhere. He points out that Shakespeare's work has a mythic quality which allows his plays and poetry to be quickly graspable and therefore available for borrowing in both literary and non-literary ways. He includes extracts from imaginative writing which has focused as much on the man as the work; Shakespeare remains the man of mystery of whom we know much, through his plays, but little of his life. Thus Kipling, Burgess, and James Joyce - in Ulysses - have pondered the nature of the Bard's personality. An advantage of including non-academic responses to Shakespeare is that they are more eloquent and vital, their style more lively and appealing, than most academic critics, however pertinent their observations. Here, the poetry Gross has selected works best due to its brevity and clarity - Gross's text is inevitably sometimes cluttered with the editor's clarifications and introductions to novel and journal extracts. Gross also pays due attention to Shakespeare's impact in the political world. His work was read on Devil's Island by Dreyfus and, 75 years later, on Robben Island by Mandela. But not everyone appreciates the great poet, as Gross duly acknowledges; all shades of opinion and reflection are on display here, from Pepys in his diaries (Midsummer Night's Dream: 'the most insipid ridiculous play that I ever saw') to Ben Okri's thought-provoking Five Meditations on Othello. This is a fine collection, more demanding and substantial than any 'bedside' anthology, and carefully indexed so that the reader can quickly find responses to and elaborations of particular plays, or extracts from their favourite authors. (Kirkus UK)show more

Table of contents

Introduction; By Way of a Prologue; The Man and the Legend; The Poet; The Making of a Reputation; Worlds Elsewhere; Echoes; In the Shadow of History; Early Encounters; A Variety of Views; Among Novelists; Plays and Characters; Fictions - 1. Tales of Shakespeare; Fictions - 2. Tales from Shakespeare; Offshoots and Adaptations; In the Margin; By Way of an Afterwordshow more

Review quote

"A delighful new anthology.... Gross' miscellany is of the sort that few scholars have dared undertake since the 19th century, an antidote to academic tomes that throws together extracts on Shakespeare and his plays from sources as varied as the bard's 400 years of readers. The variations are staggering, but if there's one underlying theme, it's the struggle writers have had in emerging from the shadow of Shakespeare's formidable reputation."--Johathon Keats, Salon.com"A unique collection of quotes, excerpts, and poems about Shakespeare and his oeuvre as evidence of Shakespeare's extensive cultural influence.... No other book takes this approach to Shakespeare's cultural influence."--Library Journalshow more

About John Gross

John Gross is the author of The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters (1969) and editor of The Oxford Book of Aphorisms (1983), and The Oxford Book of Essays (1999), among other publications. He was editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1974 to 1981, and is currently theatre critic of the Sunday Telegraph. He lives in England.show more

Rating details

7 ratings
4.42 out of 5 stars
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4 29% (2)
3 14% (1)
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