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Shakespeare and Violence

Shakespeare and Violence

  • Date Published: March 2003
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521527439

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  • Shakespeare and Violence, first published in 2002, connects to anxieties about the problem of violence, and shows how similar concerns are central in Shakespeare's plays. At first Shakespeare exploited spectacular violence for its entertainment value, but his later plays probe more deeply into the human propensity for gratuitous violence, especially in relation to kingship, government and war. In these plays and in his major tragedies he also explores the construction of masculinity in relation to power over others, to the value of heroism, and to self-control. Shakespeare's last plays present a world in which human violence appears analogous to violence in the natural world, and both kinds of violence are shown as aspects of a world subject to chance and accident. This book examines the development of Shakespeare's representations of violence and explains their importance in shaping his career as a dramatist.

    • Relates to the current interest in violence, terrorism and war
    • Shows that violence was as much a source of anxiety in Shakespeare's time as in our own
    • Considers the way Shakespeare's attitude to violence changes in his plays, in ways that are relevant to present day concerns
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a clearly structured and lucid monograph …'. The Times Literary Supplement

    'Seamlessly integrates performance criticism in the pursuit of the book's thesis … an excellent book which I have found indispensable … puts Shakespeare back into the context of our most pressing social problems.' Dympna Callaghan, Studies in English Literature

    'This book is an ambitious undertaking in both theory and practice … Shakespeare and Violence will be of interest to the textual and cultural critic as well as to the theater, film, or performance critic.' Renaissance Quarterly

    '… excellent book … indispensable in my teaching … puts Shakespeare back into the context of our most pressing social problems …'. Studies in English Literature

    'Engagingly erudite and accessibly elusive, Shakespeare and Violence is a page turner, of of the rare scholarly books that I did not want to put down but relished reading cover to cover at once.' Shakespeare Studies

    'For anyone interested in encouraging students to appreciate fully Marlowe's influence on early Shakespeare, or in making a play like Coriolanus survive in the classroom, R. A. Foakes's study of Shakespeare and violence is essential. For readers in a dangerous world, this is an informative, well illustrated, valuable - though not all that reassuring - study.' Duncan Salkeld, University College Chichester

    'R. A. Foakes's latest book, Shakespeare and Violence, addresses an area of significant interest in Shakespeare studies. The result is a thought-provoking, well-written, and often genuinely interesting study of this subject and its manifestations in Shakespeare's plays.' Theatre Survey

    'Ranging widely with eloquence and ease from playtext to theatrical production to film, Foakes frequently offers up an arresting mix of erudition and insight. For this reason, Shakespeare and Violence amply repays the reading: there is much of substance to be discovered in Foakes's critical reflections.' Modern Language Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2003
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521527439
    • length: 240 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Preface
    1. Introduction: 'Exterminate all the brutes'
    2. Shakespeare's culture of violence
    3. Shakespeare and the display of violence
    4. Plays and movies: Richard III and Romeo and Juliet
    5. Shakespeare on war: King John to Henry V
    6. Violence, Renaissance tragedy, and Hamlet
    7. The central tragedies and violence
    8. Roman violence and power games
    9. Violence and the late plays
    10. Afterword
    Index.

  • Author

    R. A. Foakes, University of California, Los Angeles
    R. A. Foakes is Professor Emeritus at the Department of English, UCLA.

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