This three-volume set comprises a reference covering not only the plays and the life of Shakespeare, but also his world and his continuing influence on modern culture.Arranged alphabetically, it presents the plays and provides details on poetry, government, music and theatre, prominent historical figures, critical commentaries, court life, gender, clothing, set design, characters in the plays, and cultural influences on Shakespeare.was crafted at the dawn of the 17th century, shaped by complex social and geopolitical issues that new historicist critics, who seek to place literary works within a historical framework, have recently sought to unravel.
The set contains 77 essays, all written by experts, thus offering a guide to the perplexed.
Each analytical essay is written with expertise and insight to guide the reader through the poem or play and to foster the full appreciation of both the content and context of the work.
This four-volume set introduces the genres and major works that constitute Shakespeare's formidable canon.
Whether readers are beginning with one of the tragedies, a history play, a comedy, or the poems, they will find a full volume devoted to each genre, with thorough analysis of the major works within.
In Shakespeare’s time Othello was performed by Richard Burbage, a white actor who wore black make-up and a wig of black lamb’s wool.
(Burbage’s powerful cross-racial performance should not be confused with the caricatured blackface used in 19th-century minstrel shows.) Still, by the early 19th century, a truly black Othello was no longer tenable in England and America.This continuing appeal suggests that the tragedy transcends the time and location in which it was written, provoking new interpretations from generation to generation, place to place.In order to fully appreciate (1565), but set his play within the context of Venice’s struggle during the 1570s with the Ottoman Empire for control of Cyprus, the eastern Mediterranean island that overlooked the shipping lanes between Europe and trading centres in the East.In sermons and treatises, English writers like Richard Knolles, who published Shakespeare draws upon the Christian-Turkish binary but also undercuts it by making the play’s most villainous character a Venetian and its hero an outsider.Fearful of vesting military power in one of its own citizens, Venice’s republican government contracted with foreign mercenaries who could easily be dismissed once the crisis was over (as Othello is in Act 5).In 1604 England was not yet formally immersed in the slave trade, but as early as 1565 English privateers had bought captured Africans, and Shakespeare may well have known some of them or other people of African heritage.Contemporary conceptions of race and racism, influenced by the history of racial slavery and 18th-century pseudo-science, are often based on hard and fast racial categories that were only incipient in Shakespeare’s England.’s geopolitical impact is not limited, however, to conflicts between Venice and the Ottoman Empire.Othello’s blackness and his background as a foreign mercenary prefigures the hybridity postcolonial theorists have identified in colonial subjects.Venice owned Cyprus from 1470 to 1569, but in 1571 Turkish forces seized the island.Later that year an alliance of Christian powers defeated the Turk in the famous naval battle of Lepanto.