Puzzling Shakespeare : local reading and its discontents / Leah S. Marcus.

By: Marcus, Leah S. (Leah Sinanoglou)Material type: TextTextSeries: New historicism: 6.Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c1988Description: xiii, 267 p. : ill. ; 24 cmISBN: 0520064178 (alk. paper); 9780520064171 (alk. paper); 0520071913 (pbk.); 9780520071919 (pbk.)Subject(s): Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Criticism and interpretation -- History | Great Britain -- History -- Elizabeth, 1558-1603 -- Historiography | Great Britain -- History -- James I, 1603-1625 -- Historiography | London (England) -- History -- 16th century -- Historiography | London (England) -- History -- 17th century -- Historiography | Historical criticism (Literature) -- England | Literature and history -- England | Local history in literature | Historicism in literature | English dramaDDC classification: 822.3/3 LOC classification: PR2976 | .M39 1988
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Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
PR2976 .M39 1988 (Browse shelf) Available 0000000900761

Includes bibliographical references (p. 221-259) and index.

Reviews provided by Syndetics


As the title suggests, this is a less happy book than Marcus's last one, The Politics of Mirth (1986), where her brand of topical historical reading produced a strong clean argument. Her approach to Shakespeare is every bit as learned and subtle, but the object of analysis remains puzzling: Shakespeare's plays scatter meanings like a prism scatters light, or, to use another of her similes, they can reverse their meanings like a Mobius strip. Her readings are deliberately open-ended and inconclusive; if the book does not radically resituate Shakespeare in relation to contemporary politics or history, it does resituate him methodologically as an object of study. The book is part of the series edited by Stephen Greenblatt, and it contributes to the current interest in the institutional politics of Shakespeare criticism. "Shakespeare is the happy hunting ground for minds which have lost their balance," says Hanes in James Joyce's Ulysses on hearing of Stephen Dedalus's topical reading of Hamlet. The balance of Marcus's mind is the great virtue and pleasure of this book, though topical criticism tends to breed reservations in the reader. This reader has trouble believing that the layered composite sexual identities of the heroines of the comedies of the late 1590s really addressed very directly the sexual identity of the ancient Queen Elizabeth, for instance. And as is typical of the New Historicism, the concerns of this study are very regicentric. Unflaggingly intelligent, sophisticated, resourceful, energetically learned, and attractively written, this book is highly recommended for graduate students and upper-division undergraduates. -J. Haynes, Bennington College

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