The Absent Shakespeare
Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1994 - 174 pages
The Absent Shakespeare challenges the notion that Shakespeare is "faceless" in his plays. It opposes Borges's notion of Shakespeare as "no one . . . a bit of coldness," a Shakespeare who constructed a mythology based on "his own intense private life."
Building on recent textual studies of King Lear and Hamlet, which compare Folio and Quarto differences, Mirsky sees them not just as an opportunity to view the playwright revising toward more skillful staging, greater complexity of plot, and ambiguity of character. The process of revision also exposes a personal Shakespeare. Differences between Folio and Quarto texts show the growing sophistication of Shakespeare's dramatic craft and reveal how the playwright changed as he matured. The book presents a dramatist maturing in time, grappling with incest, patricide, filicide, erotic love, and the inevitability of death. It finds this naked Shakespeare in Macbeth and The Tempest as well, expressed in the riddles of the plays. The author refers not only to the text of Shakespeare but also to the plays in performance - suggesting how the actor's reading and interpretation lay bare the intentions of the playwright on the stage.
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