Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Books on the Rialto

"Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare" gathers and annotates all of the Shakespeare criticism, including previously unpublished lectures and notes, by the maverick American intellectual Kenneth Burke. Burke’s interpretations of Shakespeare have influenced important lines of contemporary scholarship; playwrights and directors have been stirred by his dramaturgical investigations; and many readers outside academia have enjoyed his ingenious dissections of what makes a play function.

Burke’s intellectual project continually engaged with Shakespeare’s works, and Burke’s writings on Shakespeare, in turn, have had an immense impact on generations of readers. Carefully edited and annotated, with helpful cross-references, Burke’s fascinating interpretations of Shakespeare remain challenging, provocative, and accessible. Read together, these pieces form an evolving argument about the nature of Shakespeare’s artistry. Included are thirteen analyses of individual plays and poems, an introductory lecture explaining his approach to reading Shakespeare, and a comprehensive appendix of scores of Burke’s other references to Shakespeare.

The editor, Scott L. Newstok, also provides a historical introduction and an account of Burke’s legacy.

This edition fulfils Burke’s own vision of collecting in one volume his Shakespeare criticism, portions of which had appeared in the many books he had published throughout his lengthy career. Here, Burke examines Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar,Venus and Adonis, Othello, Timon of Athens, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, Falstaff, the Sonnets, and Shakespeare’s imagery.

Studying Shakespeare on Film by Maurice Hindle

A 'hands-on' introductory guide to analyzing and discussing Shakespeare on screen. Part One establishes the differences between Shakespeare on stage and film, with Part Two providing a historical introduction to Shakespeare on film. Part Three explores the key modes and genre conventions used in Shakespeare on film. Part Four contains a series of critical essays, while Part Five discusses Shakespeare on TV. At every stage students are provided with critical knowledge and vocabulary to analyze Shakespeare on screen.

(From the author's Introduction)
Shakespeare has always had an audience. Up to the beginning of the twentieth century, that audience, whether elite or popular, experienced Shakespeare exclusively in a theatrical space, and was relatively small. The invention of moving pictures changed all that. Not so noticeably in the silent era or in the 1930s, it has to be admitted, since it is only with the success of Laurence Olivier’s wartime production of Henry V (1944) that one can talk of a film adaptation having for the first time found favour with a mass moviegoing audience. Olivier’s achievement and popular success also went beyond issues of patriotism and propaganda, with at least two of the finest adapters of the Shakespeare play to the big screen being inspired by Olivier’s filmic example to produce Shakespeare movies of their own: Franco Zeffirelli and Ian McKellen. Enthused by Olivier’s Henry V, Zeffirelli went on to take Shakespeare to the mainstream movie audiences of the 1960s with his Burton/Taylor vehicle The Taming of the Shrew (1966) before bringing a large youth audience to the hugely popular Romeo and Juliet (1968), a success partly repeated with his Mel Gibson/Glenn Close Hamlet (1990). For McKellen it was a viewing of Olivier’s Richard III (1955) at the Bolton Odeon which inspired: ‘A spell was cast as I watched the shadows of great actors and had confirmed my juvenile sense that Shakespeare was for everybody’ (1995, 37).The experience of feeling that Shakespeare ‘is for everybody’ also drove Kenneth Branagh to produce a Henry V to rival in popularity Olivier’s 1944 production, a move that reinvigorated the Shakespeare film adaptation genre in 1989. Although in terms of output it is the prolific and committed Branagh who still dominates the continuing post-1989 era of Shakespeare movies, I would like to focus here a little on Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine’s fine adaptation of Richard III (1995).

1 comment:

Guy Barry said...

eresting,will visut again nes pas?