A strong, systematic, and ideologically unbiased introduction to Shakespeare, bound to deepen any reader's appreciation for...

SHAKESPEARE

THE BASICS

McEvoy, a British professor of drama and English, offers graduating high school seniors a concise and even-handed view of the Bard the way they'll be expected to see him in college English classes.

Every school of modern thought seems to have found a way to draw Shakespeare into its arsenal of argumentation; in particular, the Marxists and the feminists have found much to say about A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. McEvoy is refreshing in that he takes no sides and instead presents these and other (more traditional) views of the greatest English playwright's work with grace and finesse. His goal is to prepare the high school student, who has been forced to read these plays as mere books—ripe for extraction of plot and character—for a university-level analysis of Shakespearean drama. McEvoy makes a nuanced, multifaceted argument for the plays as theater, not literature, emphasizing the importance to Shakespeare of stage directions, the physical orientation of the playhouse, and interaction with the audience. He presents each controversial aspect of textual meaning through several different ideological prisms, with particular attention (but not favoritism) given to feminist critique. Sidebars in each chapter build a sturdy cultural context, surveying the historical evolution of gender roles, social mobility, theater companies, playhouses, and more. The second half of McEvoy's study tracks the principal features of each Shakespearean genre, suggesting (but not insisting) that certain overarching themes tie histories, tragedies, comedies, and romances together in a coherent, if not neat, bundle. A minor criticism could be lodged against this American edition for stubbornly refusing to adapt to the idiom of its new audience: US college freshmen are likely to be nonplussed by references to `A-levels,` professional soccer, and British popular culture.

A strong, systematic, and ideologically unbiased introduction to Shakespeare, bound to deepen any reader's appreciation for the great playwright, and particularly suited to prepare college freshmen for deeper reading of Elizabethan drama.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-415-21288-X

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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