WHAT HAPPENS IN SHAKESPEARE by C. B. Purdom

WHAT HAPPENS IN SHAKESPEARE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Purdom takes the novel stand that Shakespeare is the most classical playwright since the days of the Greeks, even more so than Racine and Corneille. He says, in effect, ""Nobody understands what Shakespeare did in his plays."" What Shakespeare did was truly observe the unities of dramatic action by avoiding mere narration and by containing the drama to the situation of a single protagonist. This is so even in Antony and Cleopatra, since Cleo is subsidiary to Antony even though he doesn't show up for Act V. The true definition of a Shakespeare play is that it is ""a work performed by actors in words and movements, containing the story in action of a problem confronting a protagonist, leading to a crisis in which the problem is resolved, the action being presented from the point of view of the protagonist after the crisis."" This last phrase is ingenious. It means that the play is a contemplation of a vision in which ""the self-being of the leading character attains truth"" by seeing himself and all the other characters in the play from the point of view of what happened to himself, thus effecting release from subjection to himself. Purdom pursues this thesis singlemindedly through every play with intermittent success. More for students than the scholars he would like to attract.

Publisher: Roy