An introductory study into tragedy in drama and literature, and in the real world.
Macbeth clutches an imaginary dagger; Hamlet holds up Yorick's skull; Lear enters with Cordelia in his arms. Do these memorable and iconic moments have anything to tell us about the definition of Shakespearean tragedy? Is it in fact helpful to talk about 'Shakespearean tragedy' as a concept, or are there only Shakespearean tragedies? What kind of figure is the tragic hero? Is there always such a figure? What makes some plays more tragic than others? Beginning with a discussion of tragedy before Shakespeare and considering Shakespeare's tragedies chronologically one by one, this 2007 book seeks to investigate such questions in a way that highlights both the distinctiveness and shared concerns of each play within the broad trajectory of Shakespeare's developing exploration of tragic form.
Tragedy is the art-form created to confront the most difficult experiences we face: death, loss, injustice, thwarted passion, despair. From ancient Greek theatre up to the most recent plays, playwrights have found, in tragic drama, a means to seek explanation for disaster. But tragedy is also a word we continually encounter in the media, to denote an event which is simply devastating in its emotional power. This introduction explores the relationship between tragic experience and tragic representation. After giving an overview of the tragic theatre canon - including chapters on the Greeks, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov, post-colonial drama, and Beckett - it also looks at the contribution which philosophers have brought to this subject, before ranging across other art-forms and areas of debate. The book is unique in its chronological range, and brings a wide spectrum of examples, from both literature and life, into the discussion of this emotional and frequently controversial subject.
Featuring essays by major international scholars, this Companion combines analysis of themes crucial to Renaissance tragedy with the interpretation of canonical and frequently taught texts. Part I introduces key topics, such as religion, revenge, and the family, and discusses modern performance traditions on stage and screen. Bridging this section with Part II is a chapter which engages with Shakespeare. It tackles Shakespeare's generic distinctiveness and how our familiarity with Shakespearean tragedy affects our appreciation of the tragedies of his contemporaries. Individual essays in Part II introduce and contribute to important critical conversations about specific tragedies. Topics include The Revenger's Tragedy and the theatrics of original sin, Arden of Faversham and the preternatural, and The Duchess of Malfi and the erotics of literary form. Providing fresh readings of key texts, the Companion is an essential guide for all students of Renaissance tragedy.
Michael Y. Bennett's accessible Introduction explains the complex, multidimensional nature of the works and writers associated with the absurd - a label placed upon a number of writers who revolted against traditional theatre and literature in both similar and widely different ways. Setting the movement in its historical, intellectual and cultural contexts, Bennett provides an in-depth overview of absurdism and its key figures in theatre and literature, from Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter to Tom Stoppard. Chapters reveal the movement's origins, development and present-day influence upon popular culture around the world, employing the latest research to this often challenging area of study in a balanced and authoritative approach. Essential reading for students of literature and theatre, this book provides the necessary tools to interpret and develop the study of a movement associated with some of the twentieth century's greatest and most influential cultural figures.
The Cambridge Companion to World Literature introduces the significant ideas and practices of world literary studies. It provides a lucid and accessible account of the fundamental issues and concepts in world literature, including the problems of imagining the totality of literature; comparing literary works across histories, cultures and languages; and understanding how literary production is affected by forces such as imperialism and globalization. The essays demonstrate how detailed critical engagements with particular literary texts call forth differing conceptions of world literature, and, conversely, how theories of world literature shape our practices of readings. Subjects covered include cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, internationalism, scale and systems, sociological criticism, translation, scripts, and orality. This book also includes original analyses of genres and forms, ranging from tragedy to the novel and graphic fiction, lyric poetry to the short story and world cinema.
This lively and innovative introduction to Shakespeare promotes active engagement with the plays, rather than recycling factual information. Covering a range of texts, it is divided into seven subject-based chapters: Character; Performance; Texts; Language; Structure; Sources and History, and it does not assume any prior knowledge. Instead, it develops ways of thinking and provides the reader with resources for independent research through the 'Where next?' sections at the end of each chapter. The book draws on scholarship without being overwhelmed by it, and unlike other introductory guides to Shakespeare it emphasizes that there is space for new and fresh thinking by students and readers, even on the most-studied and familiar plays.
This revised and updated Companion acquaints the student reader with the forms, contexts, critical and theatrical lives of the ten plays considered to be Shakespeare's tragedies. Thirteen essays, written by leading scholars in Britain and North America, address the ways in which Shakespearean tragedy originated, developed and diversified, as well as how it has fared on stage, as text and in criticism. Topics covered include the literary precursors of Shakespeare's tragedies, cultural backgrounds, sub-genres and receptions of the plays. The book examines the four major tragedies and, in addition, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Timon of Athens. Essays from the first edition have been fully revised to reflect the most up-to-date scholarship; the bibliography has been extensively updated; and four new chapters have been added, discussing Shakespearean form, Shakespeare and philosophy, Shakespeare's tragedies in performance, and Shakespeare and religion.
Why did theatre audiences laugh in Shakespeare's day? Why do they still laugh now? What did Shakespeare do with the conventions of comedy that he inherited, so that his plays continue to amuse and move audiences? What do his comedies have to say about love, sex, gender, power, family, community, and class? What place have pain, cruelty, and even death in a comedy? Why all those puns? In a survey that travels from Shakespeare's earliest experiments in farce and courtly love-stories to the great romantic comedies of his middle years and the mould-breaking experiments of his last decade's work, this book addresses these vital questions. Organised thematically, and covering all Shakespeare's comedies from the beginning to the end of his career, it provides readers with a map of the playwright's comic styles, showing how he built on comedic conventions as he further enriched the possibilities of the genre.
As a creative medium, ancient Greek tragedy has had an extraordinarily wide influence: many of the surviving plays are still part of the theatrical repertoire, and texts like Agamemnon, Antigone, and Medea have had a profound effect on Western culture. This Companion is not a conventional introductory textbook but an attempt, by seven distinguished scholars, to present the familiar corpus in the context of modern reading, criticism, and performance of Greek tragedy. There are three main emphases: on tragedy as an institution in the civic life of ancient Athens, on a range of different critical interpretations arising from fresh readings of the texts, and on changing patterns of reception, adaptation, and performance from antiquity to the present. Each chapter can be read independently, but each is linked with the others, and most examples are drawn from the same selection of plays.
From the trauma of September 11th, through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the environmental warning signs of climate change, this book reflects on the crises and terrifying events of the early 21st century and argues that a knowledge of tragedy from the works of Sophocles to Shakespeare to Samuel Beckett can help us understand them. Jennifer Wallace offers a cultural analysis of the tragic events of the past two decades with reference to a litany of key dramatic texts, including Aeschylus' Oresteia, Euripides' Hecuba, Iphigenia in Aulis, Trojan Women and Bacchae, Homer's Iliad, Ibsen's Emperor and Galilean and Enemy of the People, and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Macbeth and King Lear, among others.
Offers a lucid introduction to postcolonial studies, one of the most important strands in recent literary theory and cultural studies.
What is narrative? How does it work and how does it shape our lives and the texts we read? H. Porter Abbott emphasizes that narrative is found not just in literature, film, and theater, but everywhere in the ordinary course of people's lives. This widely used introduction, now thoroughly revised, is informed throughout by recent developments in the field and includes two new chapters. With its lucid exposition of concepts and suggestions for further reading, this book is not only an excellent introduction for courses focused on narrative but also an invaluable resource for students and scholars across a wide range of fields, including literature and drama, film and media, society and politics, journalism, autobiography, history, and still others throughout the arts, humanities, and social sciences.
Russian literature arrived late on the European scene. Within several generations, its great novelists had shocked - and then conquered - the world. In this introduction to the rich and vibrant Russian tradition, Caryl Emerson weaves a narrative of recurring themes and fascinations across several centuries. Beginning with traditional Russian narratives (saints' lives, folk tales, epic and rogue narratives), the book moves through literary history chronologically and thematically, juxtaposing literary texts from each major period. Detailed attention is given to canonical writers including Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn, as well as to some current bestsellers from the post-Communist period. Fully accessible to students and readers with no knowledge of Russian, the volume includes a glossary and pronunciation guide of key Russian terms as well as a list of useful secondary works. The book will be of great interest to students of Russian as well as of comparative literature.
The Cambridge Companion to Christopher Marlowe provides a full introduction to one of the great pioneers of both the Elizabethan stage and modern English poetry. It recalls that Marlowe was an inventor of the English history play (Edward II) and of Ovidian narrative verse (Hero and Leander), as well as being author of such masterpieces of tragedy and lyric as Doctor Faustus and 'The Passionate Shepherd to His Love'. Sixteen leading scholars provide accessible and authoritative chapters on Marlowe's life, texts, style, politics, religion, and classicism. The volume also considers his literary and patronage relationships and his representations of sexuality and gender and of geography and identity; his presence in modern film and theatre; and finally his influence on subsequent writers. The Companion includes a chronology of Marlowe's life, a note on reference works, and a reading list for each chapter.
In this highly accessible introduction, Brian Nelson provides an overview of French literature - its themes and forms, traditions and transformations - from the Middle Ages to the present. Major writers, including Francophone authors writing from areas other than France, are discussed chronologically in the context of their times, to provide a sense of the development of the French literary tradition and the strengths of some of the most influential writers within it. Nelson offers close readings of exemplary passages from key works, presented in English translation and with the original French. The exploration of the work of important writers, including Villon, Racine, Molière, Voltaire, Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, Proust, Sartre and Beckett, highlights the richness and diversity of French literature.
This book provides an accessible introduction for students and anyone interested in increasing their enjoyment of Greek tragic plays. Whether readers are studying Greek culture, performing a Greek tragedy, or simply interested in reading a Greek play, this book will help them to understand and enjoy this challenging and rewarding genre. An Introduction to Greek Tragedy provides background information, helps readers appreciate, enjoy and engage with the plays themselves, and gives them an idea of the important questions in current scholarship on tragedy. Ruth Scodel seeks to dispel misleading assumptions about tragedy, stressing how open the plays are to different interpretations and reactions. In addition to general background, the book also includes chapters on specific plays, both the most familiar titles and some lesser-known plays - Persians, Helen and Orestes - in order to convey the variety that the tragedies offer readers.