Item description for Doing Shakespeare - Arden Shakespeare: Arden Shakespeare (Arden Shakespeare Third Series) by Simon Palfrey...
Doing Shakespeare offers a fresh insight into the difficulties and excesses of Shakespeare's drama and language. Written primarily for students making the transition from school to university, it aims both to demystify and illuminate the study of Shakespeare, tackling many of the challenges students face as they move towards a more complex critical engagement with Shakespeare's work. Equally, it shows how recovering the layered energies within and between Shakespeare's words, and the role of such dense language in constructing character, is indispensable if we are to rediscover the plays' ethical, political and emotional punch. "... brilliant, intelligent, engaging..." Bernard Richards, The English Review, September 2006 "Simon Palfrey's Doing Shakespeare is far more than a primer. Readers and watchers of Shakespeare, however experienced, will find a host of new insights here. Indeed, I cannot think of another critic since Empson who has teased out so much so lucidly and (usually) so persuasively from the intricacies of Shakespearean language. Sometimes wayward, frequently vertiginous, always provocative of serious thought" Jonathan Bate, International Books of the Year 2004, The Times Literary Supplement, October 2004.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.64" Width: 5.12" Height: 0.79" Weight: 0.79 lbs.
Release Date Sep 9, 2004
ISBN 1904271545 ISBN13 9781904271543
Availability 0 units.
More About Simon Palfrey
Simon Palfrey is Professor of English Literature at Oxford University. He is the founding editor of Shakespeare Now! His books include Late Shakespeare: A New World of Words (1997), Doing Shakespeare (2004, 2011 named a TLS International Book of the Year), Shakespeare in Parts (with Tiffany Stern, 2007 winner of an AHRC Innovations Award and the MRDS David Bevington Award for best new book on Medieval and Renaissance drama) and Poor Tom: Living 'King Lear' (forthcoming in 2014). He is also the author of new play, Demons Land, inspired by Spenser's Faerie Queene, which is now being adapted into four linked short films. With Ewan Fernie he has recently completed a novel called Macbeth, Macbeth (forthcoming).
Simon Palfrey has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Liverpool University of Oxford University of Oxford Univ.
Reviews - What do customers think about Doing Shakespeare - Arden Shakespeare: Arden Shakespeare (Arden Shakespeare Third Series)?
Shakespeare Well Done Dec 13, 2007
Simon Palfrey's "Doing Shakespeare" is one of the most under-named books around. You would hardly expect much of a work with such a name but I'm more inclined now to take the age-old advice of not judging a book by what you see in the front.
Because when you turn the pages the power of the writing hits you like a body-slam. Rarely have I come across such natural and unrestrained verbosity and flair in writing.
Yet, again, despite of the fact that, the book's structure is uncomplicated. Palfrey has organised his discussion around understanding Shakespeare's WORDS (metaphor, hendiadys [e.g. "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", "backward and abysm of time", etc.] repetition, 'high style', rhyme, prose and puns) and his CHARACTERS (what are these 'speaking things'? where is a character? soliloquies, sex[!] and a focus on Iago and Hamlet).
So there I am in the car, waiting for my wife to get some groceries, just 'flipping through' the first chapter and I see something like:
"(A) drama committed to original metaphor as a primary means of making its worlds means...that language is not primarily there to descibr what is arleady known and observed. Instead, it is itself finding out what might be present; it is its own barometer of possibility. It is at once tangible and speculative, rooted in the body's immediacy but commited to an almost magical apprehension of what might be.
"Above all, it gives us minds and societies in process. Dramatic character, plot and scene can be understood as experiments in language's capability of embodiment. There is nothing safe or static about this sort of language. Everything is up for grabs, and as perilous as precious." (p.38)
This was just after 1.5 pages commenting on Hamlet's "O that this too too sullied flesh would melt,/Thaw and resolve itself into a dew", about which Palfrey writes:
"Is 'dew' a metaphor? (Does it) represent blank annihilation(?). But as the word completes the thought, it also stops one thought and inaugurated another; or perhaps secretes a certain wistfulness within the enveloping despair. For Hamlet concentrates himself - literally - into this image (which) becomes a concentration of the hero's dramatic possibilities.
"So, a 'dew' can suggest dawn, youth and freshness. It aestheticises both conception and birth, removing one from the taint of sperm, the other from the taint of woman...The phrase's miniaturist transcendence suggests some kind of reincarnation or redemption; or perhaps hibernation, a burying away until circumstances are more auspicious."
"Hamlet is fully aware of literary cliche and generic models: but he wants to shake the image out of any pastoral complacency and claim it as his own. Hence the three verbs (melt, thaw, resolve) that work to so concentrate the climatic noun...(this) simple surplus of meaning creates a sort of supra-context, an alternative world in which a play's or a character's most vital preoccupations find their air." (p.35-36)
So now I'm gasping for air...(smile)...do all Literature commentators write like this? Or is it a British thing? I almost suspect it is as British theologians (Wright, Fiddes, Gunton, Crossan, etc.) seem to put more serious colour into their language than American ones.
Back to Palfrey. One of my favorite passages was about the pun.
"Consider the basic architecture of a pun: it is multiple, folded, or at cross-purposes; things lurk or move at angels; it beckons toward different pasts and possibilities; it evokes alternatives within predetermination, a 'virtuality' to rival actuality, perhaps a consciousness of waste.
"All of this makes the pun peculiarly able to concentrate, intensify, and unfold a moment's situational and psychic layers. Shakespeare's punning becomes almost the least dispensable of his techniques." (p.157)
The only downside for me is that my brain circuitry really ignite only when three plays are mentioned: Hamlet, R&J, As You Like It. But if the worth of a book can be judged by the force with which one is inspired to be more acquainted with its subject matter, then "Doing Shakespeare" has done it for me.
Even if you're a seasoned Shakespeare enthusiast, this book should still be invaluable, if nothing more than as a great example of how to write like and about the great dramatist.