Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Shakespeare the Thinker

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Shakespeare the Thinker

Article excerpt

Shakespeare the Thinker, by A. D. Nuttall. Yale, April 2007. $30

This is a brilliant, deeply learned, deeply human reading of the major plays of Shakespeare. Nuttall, a professor of English at Oxford University, draws extensively from English history and Shakespeare criticism in his discussions of the plays. And he goes further: he pulls from childhood memories, conversations with students, current events, even television. But Nuttall is not offering a hip, contemporary reading of Shakespeare; rather, he is bringing everything he has to his criticism, honoring Shakespeare by not presuming to explain the plays through one pat theory or another, recognizing that these works call to the full range of human experience. Among the strengths of Nuttall's readings is his willingness to modify his own earlier positions, admit his biases, and allow the possibility that other readings are better. One example from this rich and compelling book: consider the unremitting sadness of the universe of King Lear-Nuttall still believes, as he had written some years earlier, that King Lear is an antiChristian play. …

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