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Dr. McAlindon argues that there were two models of nature in Renaissance culture, one hierarchical, in which everything has an appointed place, the other contrarious, showing nature as a tense system of interacting opposites, liable to sudden collapse. This latter model applies to the whole of Shakespeare's tragedy. It can be seen in the characterization, the settings and the imagery of the tragedies, which the author analyzes in chapters devoted to Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.Read more
- The book is a direct challenge to the school of cultural materialism and new historicism
- Offers a close reading of Shakespeare's tragedies, useful for students
Reviews & endorsements
"The model McAlindon offers has several advantages. It greatly enlarges the Elizabethan world model as outlined by several scholars in the 1940s and 1950s, a picture so incomplete in explaining the disintegration of the individual and society in Shakespeare's tragedies that later scholars assumed that all premodern conceptions of natural order are of little relevance. McAlindon is anxious that we realize how deeply indebted Shakespeare was to his own time's cultural inheritance....By far the most important advantage to re-viewing Shakespeare's tragedies against this cosmology of Love and Strife is the richer readings it provides....One of McAlindon's most illuminating chapters is on Othello....Equally judicious are the chapters on Lear and Macbeth....The concluding chapter is an especially discriminating essay on Antony and Cleopatra." The Journal of English and Germanic PhilologySee more reviews
"Open-minded and intelligent. What is particularly attractive about the book is the close reading it offers of Shakespeare's tragedies in all their Renaissance complexity." Notes and Queries
"McAlindon is an unpolemical writer, but this, along with his earlier English Renaissance Tragedy, represents the most direct challenge to [cultural materialism]...which has yet been published. The enormous amount of reference to earlier critics is, however, a measure of McAlindon's scrupulousness as a scholar....a work of genuine scholarship....a humane study and one of real intellectual integrity." The Yearbook of English Studies
"Founded on a commitment both to sound understanding of intellectual history and to humane values." The Review of English Studies
"...committed, scholarly, and humane study...." Shakespeare Survey
"A valuable contribution to the mainstream tradition of Shakespearean interpretation....In today's climate, this is a welcome and useful restatement of a tradition of thinking and mythmaking that has been largely eclipsed by new historicism....If tragedy is indeed the representation of an experience of chaos, its essence conflict and contrariety, then McAlindon's informing hypothesis about an essentially antithetical and contentious cosmos provides a capacious model, formal, philosophical and historical at once, of dualism and dynamism, embracing different levels of understanding, from the cosmological to the ethical...to the generic...and down to the smallest linguistic/imagistic details." Renaissance Quarterly
"McAlindon's argument shows that the binaries [in Shakespeare's tragedies] are hardly a postmodernist revelation and that the Elizabethans themselves did not feel obliged to find in them the subversive and deconstructive inflections that transfix new historicist and cultural materialist critics. This is the important virtue of Shakespeare's Tragic Cosmos....McAlindon is judicious and perceptive." Shakespeare Quarterly
"I admire the independence of this book hugely." The Year's Work in English Studies
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- Date Published: April 1996
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521566056
- length: 328 pages
- dimensions: 216 x 140 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.42kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: 'Nature's fragile vessel'
2. A medieval approach: Chaucer's tale of love and strife
3. Romeo and Juliet
4. Julius Caesar
7. King Lear
9. Antony and Cleopatra.
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