The Tempest: A Case Study in Critical Controversy

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Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000 - Drama - 350 pages
8 Reviews
Though written near the end of his career, The Tempest stands first in Shakespeare's First Folio of 1623. Recently redefined by modern criticism as a romance, the play has been read as an escapist fantasy, a political allegory, and a celebratory fiction. Most often, however, The Tempest isinterpreted as a summary of Shakespeare's view of his own art of playwriting. In this edition, Stephen Orgel reassesses the evidence for each of these critical speculations, and finds the play to be both more open and more historically determined than traditional views have allowed. The text hasbeen newly edited, and includes a stage history of its production, from the radical revisions of Davenant, Dryden, and Shadwell to the recent stagings of Peter Hall, Jonathan Miller, and Peter Brook.

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Review: The tempest : a case study in critical controversy

User Review  - Cory - Goodreads

Sock-knocking edition that takes a nuanced approach to the post-colonial and feminist critical hydras of the text. Also, having just read this play for the first time, I must sat it is a new favorite ... Read full review

Review: The tempest : a case study in critical controversy

User Review  - Goodreads

Sock-knocking edition that takes a nuanced approach to the post-colonial and feminist critical hydras of the text. Also, having just read this play for the first time, I must sat it is a new favorite ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

Gerald Graff is a professor of English and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of several books including Professing Literature: An Institutional History, Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education, and Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind.

James Phelan is Humanities Distinguished Professor in English at The Ohio State University.

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