Shakespeare and Appropriation

Shakespeare and Appropriation

Shakespeare and Appropriation

Shakespeare and Appropriation

Synopsis

The vitality of our culture is still often measured by the status Shakespeare has within it. Contemporary readers and writers continue to exploit Shakespeare's cultural afterlife in a vivid and creative way. This fascinating collection of original essays shows how writers' efforts to imitate, contradict, compete with, and reproduce Shakespeare keep him in the cultural conversation.The essays:* analyze the methods and motives of Shakespearean appropriation* investigate theoretically the return of the repressed author in discussions of Shakespeare's cultural function* put into dialogue theoretical and literary responses to Shakespeare's cultural authority* analyze works ranging from nineteenth century to the present, and genres ranging from poetry and the novel to Disney movies.

Excerpt

In our century, the field of literary studies has rarely been a settled, tranquil place. Indeed, for over two decades, the clash of opposed theories, prejudices, and points of view has made it more of a battlefield. Echoing across its most beleaguered terrain, the student’s weary complaint “Why can’t I just pick up Shakespeare’s plays and read them?” seems to demand a sympathetic response.

Nevertheless, we know that modern spectacles will always impose their own particular characteristics on the vision of those who unthinkingly don them. This must mean, at the very least, that an apparently simple confrontation with, or pious contemplation of, the text of a 400-year-old play can scarcely supply the grounding for an adequate response to its complex demands. For this reason, a transfer of emphasis from “text” toward “context” has increasingly been the concern of critics and scholars since World War II: a tendency that has perhaps reached its climax in more recent movements such as New Historicism or Cultural Materialism.

A consideration of the conditions, social, political, or economic within which the play came to exist, from which it derives, and to which it speaks will certainly make legitimate demands on the attention of any well-prepared student nowadays. Of course, the serious pursuit of those interests will also inevitably start to undermine ancient and inherited prejudices, such as the supposed distinction between “foreground” and “background” in literary studies. And even the

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