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Shakespeare and the Idea of Late Writing
Authorship in the Proximity of Death

$57.99 (C)

  • Date Published: August 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521158008

$ 57.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • What do we mean when we speak of the 'late style' of a given writer, artist or composer? And what exactly do we mean by 'late Shakespeare'? Gordon McMullan argues that, far from being a natural phenomenon common to a handful of geniuses in old age or in proximity to death, late style is in fact a critical construct. Taking Shakespeare as his exemplar, he maps the development of the 'discourse of lateness' from the eighteenth century to the present, noting not only the mismatch between that discourse and the actual conditions for authorship in early modern theatre but also its generativity for subsequent projections of creative selfhood. He thus offers the first critique of the idea of late style, which will be of interest not only to literature specialists but also to art historians, musicologists and anyone curious about the relationship of creativity to old age and to death.

    • Offers the first full critique of the idea of late style, therefore will be of interest not just to Shakespeareans but also to literary critics, musicologists and art historians
    • Addresses issues of performance history and theory by analysing the performances and motivations of John Gielgud and Mark Rylance in the role of Prospero
    • Covers a very broad historical and thematic range, from medieval England to Shakespearean production in 2006
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Gordon McMullan’s Shakespeare and the Idea of Late Writing is easily the best critical study of Shakespeare to appear this year. Packed with insights both theoretical and historical—and ranging from Edmond Malone to Henry James to Edward Said--it’s the kind of book that literary scholars (as well as art and music historians) will want to keep close at hand."
    -James Shapiro, Professor of English at Columbia University, author of 1599

    "...a lucid, important book...Recommended."
    - A. DiMatteo, New York Institute of Technology, Choice

    "Part critical survey, part history of ideas, and part literary and theatrical analysis, Gordon McMullan’s recent book demonstrates with considerable intellectual and stylistic dexterity, and not a little grace towards the figures it discusses, the complex paths through which the idea of late style has come to be an accepted way of seeing. It is from the start apparent that this is not only a book about Shakespeare. Rather, it examines the growth of the whole concept of lateness, and the various definitions it has been given, within other disciplines, primarily art history and musicology....a very provocative, and a very important, book."
    - Stuart Sillars, University of Bergen, English Studies, 91: 2

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521158008
    • length: 416 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Shakespeare and the idea of late writing
    2. The Shakespearean caesura: genre, chronology, style
    3. The invention of late Shakespeare: subjectivism and its discontents
    4. Last words / late plays: the possibility and impossibility of late Shakespeare in early modern culture and theatre
    5. How old is 'late'?: late Shakespeare, old age, King Lear
    6. The Tempest and the uses of late Shakespeare in the theatre: Gielgud, Rylance, Prospero.

  • Author

    Gordon McMullan, King's College London

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