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Every age gets the Shakespeare it deserves. Ours seems to have passed from outright bardolatry to the dissecting-room school of appreciation. Thus the anthology here, though nominally a collection of critical snippets from the Elizabethans to the present, is designed in the modern mode to survey the Avon magician by stressing his multi-faceted alchemy, and the more diversity- or rather, disagreement about the ingredients involved- the better. Is Shakespeare moral? Is he innately tragic or comic? Have the plays unity? Are the characters real people? How great is the language? These and other questions receive a string of yes-no-and-maybe answers. The book divides two-ways; first a general summation, and second a discussion of the individual plays. There are 350 pieces from 120 notables, including Jonson, Bradley, Eliot, Arnold, Granville-Barker, Coleridge, Johnson, Pater, Auden -- everyone, in fact, (or so it seems), who has ever uttered an intelligent quote in England or America. It's a splendid, see-sawing enterprise, even with its juxtaposition of differing opinions from different eras. sensibilities, etc.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1964
Publisher: Univ. of Michigan