'This book rests on a lifetime’s thinking about history. It helps us see Shakespeare in “a more realistic light”.’
Times Literary Supplement
The seventeenth century saw the brief
flowering of tragic drama across Western Europe. And in the plays of William
Shakespeare, this form of drama found its greatest exponent. These Tragedies,
Kiernan argues, represented the artistic expression of a new social and
political consciousness which permeated every aspect of life in this period.
this book, Kiernan sets out to rescue the Tragedies from the reductionist
interpretations of mainstream literary criticism, by uncovering the wider
historical context which shaped Shakespeare's writings.
Opening with an overview of
contemporary England, the development of the theatre, and a portrait of
Shakespeare as a writer, Kiernan goes on to provide an in-depth analysis of
eight of his Tragedies – from Julius
Caesar to Coriolanus – drawing out their contrasts and
recurring themes, and exploring their attitudes to monarchy, war, religion,
philosophy, and changing relations between men and women. Featuring a new
introduction by Terry Eagleton, this is an invaluable resource for those
looking for a new perspective on Shakespeare's writings.