Shakespeare's Labored Art: Stir, Work, and the Late Plays

Shakespeare's Labored Art: Stir, Work, and the Late Plays

Shakespeare's Labored Art: Stir, Work, and the Late Plays

Shakespeare's Labored Art: Stir, Work, and the Late Plays

Synopsis

"This study explores Shakespeare's representation of various kinds of physical and intellectual work in plays ranging from Hamlet and King Lear through Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, and Timon of Athens to the four late romances, King Henry VIII, and The Two Noble Kinsmen. Of special interest is the analysis of Shakespeare's portrayal of birth labor, especially with regard to artistic creation and playwrighting in particular. The conflict of idleness versus arduous work becomes progressively more prominent in Shakespeare's Jacobean plays. Reformation Protestantism, the court of King James, and early modern English working conditions provide contexts for appreciating the contemporary importance of this conflict." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This book originally saw life in 1982 in the form of an article, 'Stir' and Work in Shakespeare's Last Plays, which was published in Studies in English Literature. But it was only after 1990 that the idea of Shakespeare's labored art, extending from the late tragedies through The Two Noble Kinsmen, occurred to me. An eight-month 1991 Baylor University sabbatical gave me the opportunity to nurture my infant thought into the present, more robust offspring. Its faults must be surely blamed on its parent. I have distantly alluded to literary birth labor and delivery, chiefly because writing about the various manifestations of work and their consequences in Shakespeare's later plays makes one particularly susceptible to the pervasiveness of labor. Secretly I suspect that a protestant (I hesitate to say puritanical) streak in my temperament led me to choose and develop the topic of Shakespeare's labored art. Whatever strain or laboriousness the reader detects in the following pages should not be attributed to my project's enablers.

To my wife Pamela and our children Alison, Jeffrey, Andrew, and Thomas, I owe any grace of argument apparent in these chapters; repeatedly they drew me away from my labored pursuit of Shakespeare's representation of work into family play and communion. This book is dedicated to my four "only begetter[s]." To Dr. James Barcus and Dr. William Cooper, Chairman of the English Department and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor University, I owe the aforementioned sabbatical and the equally important daily encouragement of my research in Shakespeare and English Renaissance drama. My fellow Baylor Shakespearean, Paul W. White, has been the colleague that we all desire but rarely get to enjoy; this book is a better piece of writing because of his friendship. Finally, I owe more than I can express to Ms. Martha Kalnin, my graduate research assistant, who meticulously and cheerfully . . .

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