Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare
This volume gathers and annotates all of the Shakespeare criticism, including previously unpublished lectures and notes, by the maverick American intellectual Kenneth Burke. Burke's interpretations of Shakespeare have influenced important lines of contemporary scholarship; playwrights and directors have been stirred by his dramaturgical investigations; and many readers outside academia have enjoyed his ingenious dissections of what makes a play function. Burke's intellectual project continually engaged with Shakespeare's works, and Burke's writings on Shakespeare, in turn, have had an immense impact on generations of readers. Carefully edited and annotated, with helpful cross-references, Burke's fascinating interpretations of Shakespeare remain challenging, provocative, and accessible. Read together, these pieces form an evolving argument about the nature of Shakespeare's artistry. Included are thirteen analyses of individual plays and poems, an introductory lecture explaining his approach to reading Shakespeare, and a comprehensive appendix of scores of Burke's other references to Shakespeare. The editor, Scott L. Newstok, also provides a historical introduction and an account of Burke's legacy. This edition fulfils Burke's own vision of collecting in one volume his Shakespeare criticism, portions of which had appeared in the many books he had published throughout his lengthy career. Here, Burke examines Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Venus and Adonis, Othello, Timon of Athens, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, Falstaff, the Sonnets, and Shakespeare's imagery. KENNETH BURKE(1897-1993) was the author of many books, including the landmark Motivorum trilogy: A Grammar of Motives (1945), A Rhetoric of Motives (1950), and Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950-1955 (2007). He has been hailed as one of the most original American thinkers of the twentieth century and possibly the greatest rhetorician since Cicero. Burke's enduring familiarity with Shakespeare helped shape his own theory of dramatism, an ambitious elaboration of the "all the world's a stage" conceit. Burke is renowned for his far-reaching 1951 essay on Othello, which wrestles with concerns still relevant to scholars more than half a century later; his imaginative ventriloquism of Mark Antony's address over Caesar's body has likewise found a number of appreciative readers, as have his many other essays on the playwright. SCOTT L. NEWSTOK is Assistant Professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College and Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at Yale University.
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Notes on the Text
Shakespeare Was What?
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