Shakespeare, Poet and Citizen

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In this book the distinguished historian Victor Kiernan makes a case for seeing Shakespeare as a writer profoundly sensitive to the great social and political upheavals through which he lived. Shakespeare's poetic and dramatic achievement, Kiernan argues, was not something which transcended his environment but was directly enlarged by his civic consciousness and his critical reactions to a changing social fabric.

Shakespeare's phase of dramatic activity coincides with the first challenges to the institution of monarchy. Kiernan analyses the cycle of History plays in the light of the demise of feudal allegiances and the emergence of the modern state apparatus. He shows how the far-reaching transformations in social hierarchy which simultaneously began to take place are crucial to an understanding of the Comedies, in which confusion of identity, disguise and cross-dressing are central. And he examines the ways in which women's roles are affected by this nascent individualism, especially in relation to the ideas of romantic love around which the Comedies revolve.

Shakespeare: Poet and Citizen draws a vivid portrait of the outstanding dramatist of modernity. Lucid, scholarly and absorbing, it will be a rich resource for both students and the general reader.
 

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Shakespeare, poet and citizen

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Kiernan (modern history, Univ. of Edinburgh) explores "the connecting threads between what Shakespeare wrote and the environment whose air he breathed.'' This work deals mainly with the histories and ... Read full review

Contents

Shakespeares Life
3
Shakespeare and the Theatre
24
Shakespeare and English History
35
Historical Themes
75
Tragedies
133
Poems
145
Sonnets
151
The Comic Realm
165
Comedy Themes
195
Chance and Destiny Fate and Accident
239
Towards the Tragic
247
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