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Shakespearean negotiations : the circulation of social energy in Renaissance England /
Stephen Greenblatt.
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1988.
xi, 205 p. ; 24 cm.
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Berkeley : University of California Press, c1988.
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Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1988-05:
In the series of essays that culminated in the publication of Renaissance Self-fashioning in 1980 (CH, May '81), Greenblatt won recognition as the leading practitioner of the critical method known as New Renaissance Historicism. This is his most recent contribution to this most promising of the new contextualisms to follow the demise of structuralism. His goal continues to be the place of Shakespeare's plays in Renaissance society and how we may know it, but this book marks a significant change. Chapter 1 is an intensely personal reassessment in which he tells how he came to doubt, and subsequently to rethink and to modify, his original vision of his subject as a confrontation between Shakespeare the ``total artist'' and a ``total society.'' Where so much is necessarily contingent, he argues, there can be ``no single method, no overall picture, no exhaustive and definitive cultural poetics.'' Hence Chapters 2 through 5, which focus on Shakespeare's major genres, offer an alternative vision to that of a unified field. Each genre (histories, comedies, tragedies, romances) marks a different source of cultural energy, a different type of negotiation. The ``circulation of social energy'' (energy as a concept in rhetoric rather than in physics) is the key concept in Greenblatt's ongoing quest for historical understanding. What makes his book so persuasive is the passionate attention that informs his incredible learning and his love of Shakespeare. A dazzling book that will have a significant impact. Highly recommended for advanced students.-R.P. Griffin, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, May 1988
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