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In this inspiring introduction to the extraordinary phenomenon of Shakespeare, leading scholar, David Bevington, asks what makes Shakespeare great, and why we still read and perform his works.
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What makes Shakespeare great? Why do we still read and perform his works? In this deft, witty, and unpretentiously short book, David Bevington argues that Shakespeare continues to live among us today because his representations of the human condition are believable, endearing and touchingly human.
The book is structured around Shakespeare’s arc of human life from infancy and childhood to adulthood, advancing age and eventual death, as set out by Jaques in the so-called ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech from As You Like It.
Each stage in the life cycle acts as a lens through which the reader can view Shakespeare’s major works. The result is a dazzling series of explorations on childhood, sibling rivalry, courtship, the competition of sons with their fathers, career choices and ambitions, disillusionment and loss of traditional faith, marriage, jealousy, midlife crisis, ageing fathers worrying about their daughters' marrying, retirement, and so onward to ‘second childishness and mere oblivion’. Bevington reveals that Shakespeare wrote not just about human experience, but from human experience. His works represent a deeply humane portrait of humankind, and of the author himself, in a series of compelling dramatic representations.
This is a virtuoso performance by an eminent scholar, widely noted for his great gifts of explication and for his mastery of accessible prose.About the Author:
David Bevington is the Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. His numerous publications include The Bantam Shakespeare, in 29 paperback volumes (1988), and The Complete Works of Shakespeare (1992, updated 1997), as well as the Oxford Shakespeare edition of Henry IV Part I (1987), the New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of Antony and Cleopatra (1990), and the Arden Shakespeare edition of Troilus and Cressida (1998). He is the senior editor of the Revels Student Editions, and is a senior editor of the Revels Plays and of the forthcoming Cambridge edition of the works of Ben Jonson. He is also general editor of The Norton Anthology of English Renaissance Drama (2002).
With Peter Holbrook he has edited a collection of essays on The Politics of the Stuart Court Masque (1998).
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