SHAKESPEARE OUR CONTEMPORARY by Jan Kott

SHAKESPEARE OUR CONTEMPORARY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It is certainly odd that the most interesting Shakespearean criticism to appear in some time should come from Eastern Europe and from a Marxist to boot. But the country from which it springs is Poland, the freest and most Western-oriented of all the satellites, and the critic is Jan Kott, a thoroughbred intellectual who has spearheaded much of the current anti-Stalinist, even anti-ideological ferment. Indeed Kott's brilliant re-evaluation of Lear, included here, has influenced the recent Brooks-Scofield production, turning the traditionalisms of style almost upside down: the austere into the ambiguous, the heroic into the grotesque -- a Beckettian approach which manages the grandeur of the human, all that might be considered reflective of our time and temper. Thus throughout Kott's startling transformations- Hamlet as politics, the dazzling world of Antony and Cleopatra merely an historical cage getting smaller and smaller, Coriolanus or the contradictions inherent in absolutism, The Tempest as existentialist wisdom- all point to the modern condition and in doing so illuminate both art and life. His work- so open and unorthodox, so far-ranging and fruitful- is a valuable import, a critical must.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 1964
ISBN: 0393007367
Publisher: Doubleday