The Absent Shakespeare
The Absent Shakespeare challenges the notion that Shakespeare is "faceless" in his plays. It opposes Borges's notion of Shakespeare as "no one . . . a bit of coldness," a Shakespeare who constructed a mythology based on "his own intense private life."
Building on recent textual studies of King Lear and Hamlet, which compare Folio and Quarto differences, Mirsky sees them not just as an opportunity to view the playwright revising toward more skillful staging, greater complexity of plot, and ambiguity of character. The process of revision also exposes a personal Shakespeare. Differences between Folio and Quarto texts show the growing sophistication of Shakespeare's dramatic craft and reveal how the playwright changed as he matured. The book presents a dramatist maturing in time, grappling with incest, patricide, filicide, erotic love, and the inevitability of death. It finds this naked Shakespeare in Macbeth and The Tempest as well, expressed in the riddles of the plays. The author refers not only to the text of Shakespeare but also to the plays in performance - suggesting how the actor's reading and interpretation lay bare the intentions of the playwright on the stage.
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Page 50 - In the most high and palmy state of Rome, A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets...
Page 37 - Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty According to my bond; nor more nor less.
Page 64 - Excitements of my reason and my blood, And let all sleep, while to my shame I see, The imminent death of twenty thousand men, That, for a fantasy and trick of fame, Go to their graves like beds...
Page 21 - Hear, Nature, hear ! dear goddess, hear ! Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend To make this creature fruitful ! Into her womb convey sterility ! Dry up in her the organs of increase, And from her derogate body never spring A babe to honour her...
Page 41 - ... twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction; there's son against father. The King falls from bias of nature; there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time: machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves.