Overcoming the temptation to create his own Shakespeare, Auden penetrates to the very core of Shakespeare’s originality,...



Lectures on Shakespeare delivered by British poet and critic Auden in 1946 at the New School for Social Research in New York, carefully reconstructed by Kirsch from students’ notes.

While Auden provides a thorough scholarly interpretation of Shakespeare’s works in chronological order, he also takes every opportunity to discuss them in a much broader historical and cultural context. He shares his impressions of American society, draws parallels between Richard III and Hitler, and quotes profusely from a wide range of writers and philosophers (including Dante, Eliot, and Kierkegaard). The Merchant of Venice provokes his evaluation of Elizabethan anti-Semitism (which, according to Auden, was less racial than xenophobic). In connection with As You Like It, Auden speaks of pastoral conventions, drawing on Hesiod, Virgil, Rousseau, and contemporary literary theory. He does not hesitate to voice extremely critical opinions: He declares The Taming of the Shrew a complete failure, dismisses Twelfth Night as an “unpleasant play,” and declares The Merry Wives of Windsor to be “dull” (proposing that his students listen to Verdi’s Falstaff rather than read the play that inspired it). Auden also finds fault with Hamlet: He believes that Hamlet’s boredom compels him to act theatrically, and he suggests that the play was written out of spite against actors. However, as Auden repeatedly emphasizes, only minor poets are always technically perfect, because they always tread upon familiar ground. The true genius, who explores new forms of expression as a matter of course, inevitably risks failure. Shakespeare received his training with chronicle plays, and he drew important lessons from history concerning the interdependence of characters and situations. He withstood the test of artistic freedom, creating his plays against the ill-defined and amorphous conventions of Elizabethan drama. And, most important of all, his themes are so universal that his plays can appeal to general audiences even today.

Overcoming the temptation to create his own Shakespeare, Auden penetrates to the very core of Shakespeare’s originality, expressing himself in crystalline analytical prose.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-691-05730-3

Page Count: 389

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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