The Wheel of Fire: Interpretations of Shakespearian Tragedy

The Wheel of Fire: Interpretations of Shakespearian Tragedy

The Wheel of Fire: Interpretations of Shakespearian Tragedy

The Wheel of Fire: Interpretations of Shakespearian Tragedy

Synopsis

Originally published in 1930, this classic of modern Shakespeare criticism proves both enlightening and innovative. Founding a new and influential school of Shakespearean criticism, Wheel of Fire was Knight's first venture in the field - his writing sparkles with insight and wit, and his analyses are key to contemporary understandings of Shakespeare.

Excerpt

It has taken me a long time to recognize the justification of what Mr. Wilson Knight calls 'interpretation'. In my previous scepticism I am quite ready to admit the presence of elements of pure prejudice, as well as of some which I defend. I have always maintained, not only that Shakespeare was not a philosophical poet in the sense of Dante and Lucretius; but also, what may be more easily overlooked, that 'philo-sophical poets' like Dante and Lucretius are not really philosophers at all. They are poets who have presented us with the emotional and sense equivalent for a definite philosophical system constructed by a philosopher-even though they may sometimes take little liberties with the system. To say that Shakespeare is not a philosophical poet like these is not to say anything very striking or important. It is more worth while to point out that my notion of Dante or Lucretius as providing the 'emotional equivalent' for a philosophical system expressed by someone else, is not to be pressed to a literal point for point parallelism, as in the old theory of mind and body. The poet has something to say which is not even necessarily implicit in the system, something which is also over and above the verbal beauty. In other words, the pattern of Cyrene or that of the Schools is not the whole of the pattern of the carpet of Lucretius or of Dante. This other part of the pattern is something to be found in the work of other great poets than those who

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