A rich source of primary materials and commentary about Macbeth that illuminates the historical context and draws connections to events in the 1990s.
Gr 10 UpThis earnest volume reads like a graduate thesis. There is knowledge here. And information. And obvious enthusiasm for the subject. But the scope of the author's ambition far outstrips her ability to communicate it in the modest size of the book, and the pedantic nature of the writing subdues the inherently exciting material. Nostbakken never clearly decides whether this is a casebook for students or a planning text for teachers, but often seems to address herself only to teachers. The volume is divided into four chapters: "Dramatic Analysis," "Historical Context," "Performance and Interpretation," and "Contemporary Applications." Each contains modernized original documents (e.g., Aristotle, Holinshed), the author's synopses and thoughts on them and their connection to Macbeth, a short bibliography, and a question section chock-full of dauntingly ambitious projects. The text provides interesting views and support documents on several possible topics: the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a section on contemporary attitudes toward witches at the time of King James, and some intriguing discussions of specific productions of the play. There is a detailed table of contents and a workable index, but the book needs a good glossary. The "Contemporary Applications" chapter may overdo it in the argument for relevancy. Certain analogies can be drawn to Watergate, and the mood of the U.S. after the Oklahoma City bombing might compare with that of London after the exposure of the Gunpowder Plot. But paralleling Macbeth's vaulting ambition with Tonya Harding's is a stretch.Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL