Shakespeare’s Tragedies An Introduction
This book introduces the student and the general reader to Shakespeare’s tragedies and to many of the problems, both old and new, of interpreting them. Traditional questions and answers regarding the texts, as well as their realization in performance, are freshly examined, and it is shown how the plays do not offer easy or final solutions to the tragic dilemmas presented, but engage the reader and spectator in a debate with more than one possible outcome. Each of the tragedies (Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, and Troilus and Cressida) is examined separately, with discussions of its provenance, its stage history and critical history, and of the problems associated with its categorization as part of the ‘tragic’ genre. The analyses do not pretend to lead up to a single authoritative thesis; Professor Mehl’s intention is rather to point out conventions, difficulties, possible solutions, and beauties within the plays, and in the ways they have been treated by critics and theatre-goers alike. He refers widely to a representative body of Shakespearian criticism, and provides a useful bibliography which indicates the best, as well as the most up to date, sources for a reader wishing to pursue individual themes further. The book is carefully written, and should serve as a valuable introduction for anyone wanting to gain a sense of the richness of the plays and the diversity of debate and interpretation that has surrounded them.
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