The humanities are currently experiencing what’s been called a ‘material turn’ that is in some ways comparable to the linguistic turn that animated the academy half a century ago. Then it was language that commanded attention, and appeared to constitute a primary ‘reality’; now the focus is on physical objects, and what they can tell us about the wor ...

Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask: Thou smilest and art still,
Out-topping knowledge.
(Matthew Arnold, ‘Shakespeare’)

When Arnold wrote his famous sonnet, he could have been anticipating John Bell’s book, which repeatedly asks provocative questions about the man and the work that have been his ...

Literary critics used to adopt a persona claiming disinterested separation from the text being analysed. Critical theory, in particular post-colonial and gender studies, eroded this stance, showing that criticism is always self-interested, concealing or inadvertently revealing tacit assumptions stemming from the critic’s biography, class, gender, and political per ...

Lawyer Nicki Greenberg spent six years converting The Great Gatsby to graphic novel format, an interesting project that was universally acclaimed and respected... ... (read more)

Shakespeare, Sex, and Love by Stanley Wells & Shakespeare’s Freedom by Stephen Greenblatt

February 2011, no. 328

One of Angelina Jolie’s first starring roles was as Shakespeare’s Juliet in Love Is All There Is (1996). Or rather, she plays Gina Malacici, a Bronx schoolgirl fiercely protected from life by her wealthy, restaurant-owning Italian parents, recruited to play Juliet in the school play when the leading actress injures herself falling off the balcony. Faced ...

Anyone who remembers Julie Taymor’s 1999 version of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s first published play, will not be expecting a reverential treatment of what is reputedly his last, but Taymor’s new film does move more or less inexorably to the play’s final wisdom: ‘The rarer action is / In virtue than in vengeance.’ The Tempest is a d ...

In James Joyce’s Ulysses, Shakespeare is referred to as the happy hunting ground of all minds which have lost their balance. He is also referred to by Buck Mulligan, even less reverently, though with a distinct nationalist tilt, as ‘Shakespeare. I seem to recall the name. Ah, to be sure, the fellow who writes like Synge.’ Well, there probably are analogies between the greatest of all dramatists, who could also, as Donald Davie pointed out, use any word in the language he chose (and hence manipulated an extended diction), and the chap who set the Abbey Theatre stage on fire with the dynamic stylisation of Irish peasant speech in The Playboy of the Western World. Just as there are analogies between the poet who could write King Lear and the lonely Jesuit who wrote, ‘O the mind, mind has mountains: cliffs of fall / Frightful, sheer no-man-fathomed: / Hold them cheap may who ne’er hung there’, and all those tragic sonnets. Not to mention the fellow who posed in front of the bookshop sign in Paris.

... (read more)
Page 3 of 3