This Companion to Shakespeare is an indispensable book for students and teachers of Shakespeare, indeed for anyone with an interest in his plays. It offers a remarkably innovative and comprehensive picture of the theatrical, literary, intellectual, and social worlds in which Shakespeare wrote and in which his plays were produced.
The newly commissioned essays, written by the most distinguished historians and literary scholars working today (including Ian Archer, David Bevington, Michael Bristol, David Daniell, Richard Dutton, Andrew Gurr, Jean Howard, Roslyn Knutson, and Peter Lake), represent the very best of modern scholarship. Each individual essay stands as an authoritative account of the state of knowledge in its field, and in their totality the essays provide a new and compelling portrait of the historical conditions, both imaginative and institutional, that enabled (and in some cases inhibited) Shakespeare's great art. Including essays on the organization and regulation of Elizabethan playing, on the printing, publication, and circulation of the play-texts, on Shakespeare's reading, on religion and political thought in late Elizabethan and Jacobean England, and on the linguistic and literary environment in which he wrote, the Companion to Shakespeare remarkably allows us to see Shakespeare anew by restoring his artistry to the rich interactions of the historical world in which he worked and flourished.
The lucid, engaging, and authoritative essays in this imaginatively conceived collection will definitively change the ways in which we read, see, and perform Shakespeare's plays.
This collection of 28 essays provides a historical overview of the conditions of Shakespeare's world. Little interpretation or criticism of Shakespeare's works is provided. Instead, each essay creates a portrait of one aspect of the theatrical, political, literary, intellectual, and social worlds that influenced the Bard and affected his writing. Topics include religion, political thought, reading practices, the craft of playwriting, the status of English, the economics and the repertory of the theater, licensing, censorship, and the business of printing. Extensive bibliographies follow each essay. Kastan (English and comparative literature, Columbia) is currently editing Henry IV, Part 1 for the Arden Shakespeare series. A solid addition to Shakespeare studies; recommended for academic collections and public libraries supporting strong high school literature programs.--Shana C. Fair, Ohio Univ., Zanesville