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Shakespeare's Individualism

  • Date Published: September 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107630673

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About the Authors
  • Providing a provocative and original perspective on Shakespeare, Peter Holbrook argues that Shakespeare is an author friendly to such essentially modern and unruly notions as individuality, freedom, self-realization and authenticity. These expressive values vivify Shakespeare's own writing; they also form a continuous, and a central, part of the Shakespearean tradition. Engaging with the theme of the individual will in specific plays and poems, and examining a range of libertarian-minded scholarly and literary responses to Shakespeare over time, Shakespeare's Individualism advances the proposition that one of the key reasons for reading Shakespeare today is his commitment to individual liberty - even as we recognize that freedom is not just an indispensable ideal but also, potentially, a dangerous one. Engagingly written and jargon free, this book demonstrates that Shakespeare has important things to say about fundamental issues of human existence.

    • Holbrook presents an engaging and stimulating argument as to why Shakespeare is so relevant for people today
    • Avoids specialist language and jargon in addressing important general 'life issues' such as being oneself and individual choice
    • Discusses many Shakespeare plays and poems in detail to investigate the theme of individual will
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a free-spirited book - and in this sense, it practises the individualism that it preaches - in its inventive interweaving of its discussion of Shakespeare with numerous exponents and inflectors of liberal/individualist thought, including Montaigne, Blake, Coleridge, William Hazlitt, Frederick James Furnivall, John Stuart Mill, A. C. Bradley, André Gide, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. One of the undoubted strengths of this approach is the way it enables Holbrook to embark on a number of different excursions into his topic, with each one frequently adding a fresh angle, implication, or alignment.' Cahiers Élisabéthains

    'The book's bravery in questioning the gains and contradictions of contemporary literary theory is bracing.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107630673
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    Part I. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Selfhood:
    1. Hamlet and failure
    2. 'A room...at the back of the shop'
    3. Egyptianism (our fascist future)
    4. 'Become who you are!'
    5. Hamlet and self-love
    6. 'To thine own self be true'
    7. Listening to ghosts
    8. Shakespeare's self
    Part II. Shakespeare and Evil:
    9. 'Old lad, I am thine own': authenticity and Titus Andronicus
    10. Evil and self-creation
    11. Libertarian Shakespeare: Mill, Bradley
    12. Shakespearean immoral individualism: Gide
    13. Strange Shakespeare: Symons and others
    14. Eliot's rejection of Shakespeare
    15. Shakespearean immoralism: Antony and Cleopatra
    16. Making oneself known: Montaigne and the Sonnets
    Part III. Shakespeare and Self-Government:
    17. Freedom and self-government: The Tempest
    18. Calibanism
    Conclusion: Shakespeare's 'beauteous freedom'.

  • Author

    Peter Holbrook, University of Queensland
    Peter Holbrook teaches English Literature at the University of Queensland.

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