Constructing a World: Shakespeare's England and the New Historical Fiction

SUNY Press
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Taking its title from Umberto Eco’s postscript to The Name of the Rose, the novel that inaugurated the New Historical Fiction in the early 1980s, Constructing the World provides a guide to the genre’s defining characteristics. It also serves as a lively account of the way Shakespeare, Marlowe, Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth I, and their contemporaries have been depicted by such writers as Anthony Burgess, George Garrett, Patricia Finney, Barry Unsworth, and Rosalind Miles. Innovative historical novels written during the past two or three decades have transformed the genre, producing some extraordinary bestsellers as well as less widely read serious fiction. Shakespearean scholar Martha Tuck Rozett engages in an ongoing conversation about the genre of historical fiction, drawing attention to the metacommentary contained in “Afterwords” or “Historical Notes”; the imaginative reconstruction of the diction and mentality of the past; the way Shakespearean phrases, names, and themes are appropriated; and the counterfactual scenarios writers invent as they reinvent the past.
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About the author

Martha Tuck Rozett is Professor of English at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is the author of Talking Back to Shakespeare and The Doctrine of Election and the Emergence of Elizabethan Tragedy.

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Additional Information

SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 1, 2012
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Best For
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History / Historiography
Literary Criticism / Semiotics & Theory
Literary Criticism / Shakespeare
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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It was traditionally accepted (already in Poetics by Aristotle) that historiographic representations of historical events were more objective than literary ones that belonged to the realm of fiction. In the last 30 years with the breaking of the “Rankeian” faith in the attainable scientific objectivity of historiography it became clear that these two disciplines are not as apart as we might have thought. However, it is not merely the question whether or not we can attain a certain degree of objectivity in both historiography and literature, which is at the core of this book, but rather, what are the means and consequences of contemporary interactions of historiography and art.

To be able to open a debate on this issue, the editors gathered scientists from different professional and cultural background (historians, comparative literature scientists and musicologists from different parts of Europe). The result deconstructs not only a belief that historiography can and should be more objective than literature, it also shows that literary history at its very beginning in the 19th Century was crucially influenced by a popular concept of the so called organicism. Furthermore, it shows in several case studies the social consequences of particular representations of history and at the end even doubts that we can speak of historical genres in all forms of art (e.g. in the opera).

Gasper Troha and Vanesa Matajc teach in the Department of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at University of Ljubljana.

Gregor Pompe teaches in the Department of Musicology at University of Ljubljana.

"This book is about the way in which Shakespeare's plays have inspired readers to "talk back" and about some of the forms such talking back can assume. It is also about the way different interpretive communities, including students, read their cultural, political, and moral assumptions into Shakespeare's plays, appropriating and transforming elements of plot, character, and verbal text while challenging what they see as the ideological premises of the plays. Texts that talk back to Shakespeare pose questions, offer alternatives, take liberties, and fill in gaps. Some of the transformations discussed in Talking Back to Shakespeare challenge deeply held assumptions such as, for instance, that Hamlet is a tragic hero and Shylock a stereotypical grasping usurer. Others invent prior or subsequent lives for Shakespeare's characters (women characters in particular) so as to account for their actions and imagine their lives more fully than Shakespeare chooses to do. Very few of these works have received much critical attention, and some are virtually unknown or forgotten." "Rather than a comprehensive study of Shakespeare transformations, Talking Back to Shakespeare is an innovative exploration of the kinship between the kind of talking back that occurs in the classroom and the kind to be found in texts produced by writers who "rewrite" some of Shakespeare's most frequently taught and performed plays. Such re-visions unsettle the cultural authority of the plays and expose the accumulated lore that surrounds them to probing, often irreverent scrutiny." "Much of the talking back comes from marginalized readers: women, like Lillie Wyman, author of Gertrude of Denmark: An Interpretive Romance, and other nineteenth-century women critics, or Jewish writers, like Arnold Wesker, whose play The Merchant transforms the relationship between Antonio and Shylock. Some talking back comes from an international collection of oppositional voices of the 1960s, including Charles Marowitz, Aime Cesaire, Eugene Ionesco, and Joseph Papp. Talking Back to Shakespeare ranges from popular books like the recent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley to obscure, seldom-read ones like Percy MacKaye's ambitious four-play prequel, The Mystery of Hamlet, King of Denmark. What these published texts share with student journal entries and transformations is the assumption, familiar to postmodern readers, that Shakespeare's plays are essentially unstable, culturally determined constructs capable of acquiring new meanings and new forms. By bringing together these two kinds of "talking back," Rozett challenges the traditional separation between critical and pedagogical inquiry that has until recently dominated English studies."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Hamlet, and Macbeth — the works of William Shakespeare still resonate in our imaginations four centuries after they were written. The timeless characters and themes of the Bard’s plays fascinate us with their joys, struggles, and triumphs, and now they are available in a single volume for Shakespeare fans. This edition of William Shakespeare's works includes all of his poems and plays in an elegant manner which makes it the perfect gift for any lover of literature — a book to read and treasure! Whether for a Shakespeare devotee or someone just discovering him, this is the perfect place to experience the drama of Shakespeare's words. It is one of the most authoritative editions of Shakespeare's Complete Works.

This ebook contains Shakespeare's complete plays and complete poems in a new, easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate format. This is the most reader-friendly introduction to Shakespeare available today. 'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare' collects all thirty-seven of the immortal Bard's comedies, tragedies, and historical plays in a Collectible Edition. This volume also features Shakespeare's complete poetry, including the sonnets. With this beautiful Collectible Edition, you can enjoy Shakespeare's enduring literary legacy again and again.

This collection features the following works:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
All’s Well that Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Julius Caesar
King Henry the Eighth
King Henry the Fifth
King Henry the Fourth, the First Part
King Henry the Fourth, the Second Part
King Henry the Sixth, the First Part
King Henry the Sixth, the Second Part
King Henry the Sixth, the Third Part
King John
King Lear
King Richard the Second
King Richard the Third
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello, the Moor of Venice
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night; or, What You Will
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale

The Sonnets
A Lover’s Complaint
The Passionate Pilgrim
The Phoenix and the Turtle
The Rape of Lucrece
Venus and Adonis

(The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare, 9789380914831)
What is history and why should we study it? Is there such a thing as historical truth? Is history a science? One of the most accomplished historians at work today, John Lewis Gaddis, answers these and other questions in this short, witty, and humane book. The Landscape of History provides a searching look at the historian's craft, as well as a strong argument for why a historical consciousness should matter to us today. Gaddis points out that while the historical method is more sophisticated than most historians realize, it doesn't require unintelligible prose to explain. Like cartographers mapping landscapes, historians represent what they can never replicate. In doing so, they combine the techniques of artists, geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists. Their approaches parallel, in intriguing ways, the new sciences of chaos, complexity, and criticality. They don't much resemble what happens in the social sciences, where the pursuit of independent variables functioning with static systems seems increasingly divorced from the world as we know it. So who's really being scientific and who isn't? This question too is one Gaddis explores, in ways that are certain to spark interdisciplinary controversy. Written in the tradition of Marc Bloch and E.H. Carr, The Landscape of History is at once an engaging introduction to the historical method for beginners, a powerful reaffirmation of it for practitioners, a startling challenge to social scientists, and an effective skewering of post-modernist claims that we can't know anything at all about the past. It will be essential reading for anyone who reads, writes, teaches, or cares about history.
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