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Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber

Shakespeare After All (2005)

by Marjorie Garber

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Finally finished the book. 906 pages, not counting footnotes and index. It has an essay on each Shakespeare play. Some are longer than others. It just depends on the play. She does a good job of relating the underlying circumstances, such as political issues going on at the time, as well as Bible or other references, to get a better understanding of the play. All in all, a good introduction to Shakespeare. ( )
  jmcgarry2011 | May 9, 2014 |
Wonderful historical, social, and technical commentary on Shakespeare's plays. Great for supplementing for educational purposes, or for the casual reader to get the most out of the Bard's plays. ( )
  MissWoodhouse1816 | Jan 7, 2010 |
A play by play treatment of Shakespeare's drama. An intelligent commentary for the general reader, not academic though the author is an academic who has taught Shakespeare for years. The kind of book a reader might keep in her library, and pull down for the appropriate chapter just before or after seeing a Shakespeare production.
  Capybara_99 | Sep 2, 2009 |
Hands down, the best book on Shakespeare's plays I've ever read. Profound and concise, witty and easy to read, this is a book you can curl up with for fun or use to write any paper or understand a play. Her essays on Hamlet and Twelfth Night are especially intriguing. ( )
  Ani_Na | Apr 24, 2009 |
In the very first paragraph of Shakespeare After All, Marjorie Garber sets the caliber for the insights that fill her book:

What is often described as the timelessness of Shakespeare, the transcendent qualities for which his plays have been praised around the world across the centuries, is perhaps better understood as an uncanny timeliness….the plays and their characters seem always to be “modern,” always to be “us.”
Shakespeare After All is a masterpiece of explication. Its genesis was is in the undergraduate Shakespeare course the author taught at Yale in the 1970s. At Harvard since 1981, her lectures became so renowned that she began to give them in a campus theatre that could accommodate interested alumni and the general public. The book takes the form of a close reading of all Shakespeare’s plays in chronological order. Preceding coverage of the plays is an introduction covering Shakespeare’s life and career, the culture and theatre of his times, and a survey of the ways audiences and readers have responded to him over the past four centuries.

One important point Garber makes is that Shakespeare’s plays have always invited quotation, whether for the beauty of selected passages or for their cultural authority in reinforcing a point. However, taking words out of context is never so dangerous a business as in Shakespeare, where in the context of the play, the words can have quite a different meaning. One classic example of this is Polonius’s parting advice to his son Laertes in Hamlet (I.iii.58-80). Polonius’s words, so often taken to be Shakespearean proverbs on the proper comportment for a young man, are within the context of the play, a weary collection of platitudes from a tiresome old fool and court spy.

One way of measuring the strength of Shakespeare After All is to compare it with Harold Bloom’s study of the plays, Shakespeare: the Invention of the Human. Garber’s work is at once more accessible and more demanding than Bloom’s. Bloom’s book is the reflections of a great critic on the works that have occupied his mind for over fifty years. Garber’s is the work of a great teacher who leads the reader to look ever more deeply into the texts of the plays. Her analyses recall Hamlet’s advice to the players about “the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature…” Garber’s method is to hold up a mirror to Shakespeare’s plays, revealing their multiple facets and levels of meaning. She does not give her personal interpretation, for that would end the active participation of the reader to discover meaning through multiple readings.

On the final page of her study, in the acknowledgements, Professor Garber finally explains the evocative title of her book: “Shakespeare After All. After centuries of discussion, production, and analysis… we return, always to Shakespeare’s plays. Critics come and critics go; so do literary movements and theories. But the rich world of the plays—plays approached of necessity, differently in every generation—remains.” Critics and movements may come and go, but Shakespeare After All seems destined to live on in the permanent canon of Shakespeare criticism.

Published in Regent University Library Link, June 2006 (http://www.regent.edu/lib/news-archives/2006_06.cfm#book) ( )
2 vote eumaeus | Sep 18, 2007 |
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'One of the 10 best books of 2004" - Newsweek
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385722141, Paperback)

A brilliant and companionable tour through all thirty-eight plays, Shakespeare After All is the perfect introduction to the bard by one of the country’s foremost authorities on his life and work. Drawing on her hugely popular lecture courses at Yale and Harvard over the past thirty years, Marjorie Garber offers passionate and revealing readings of the plays in chronological sequence, from The Two Gentlemen of Verona to The Two Noble Kinsmen. Supremely readable and engaging, and complete with a comprehensive introduction to Shakespeare’s life and times and an extensive bibliography, this magisterial work is an ever-replenishing fount of insight on the most celebrated writer of all time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:02 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Here are fresh meditations on plays we have come to know and love, such as Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and The Tempest, as well as others not often read or produced: Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3; The Merry Wives of Windsor; King John; Timon of Athens; Pericles; and Cymbeline. The author affords us a rare chance to trace Shakespeare's stylistic development as a writer of verse and prose, an artful designer of dramatic scenarios and revelations, a masterly sketcher of woman and man, and a keen observer of society high and low. Complete with a comprehensive introduction to Shakespeare's life and times and an extensive bibliography, this book enlarges our understanding of the most celebrated writer of all time.… (more)

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