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Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics Audio CD – May 15, 2018
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About the Author
Stephen Greenblatt, PhD, is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. General editor of The Norton Shakespeare, he is also the author of several books. He has edited seven collections of criticism, including Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto, and is a founding coeditor of the journal Representations. His honors include the MLAs James Russell Lowell Prize for Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England, the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation, the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale University Graduate School, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, the Erasmus Institute Prize, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of California, Berkeley. He was president of the Modern Language Association of America and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
- Publisher : Recorded Books, Inc. and Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (May 15, 2018)
- Language : English
- Audio CD : 1 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1664471324
- ISBN-13 : 978-1664471320
- Customer Reviews:
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Some other reviews complain that Tyrant is a thinly veiled criticism of Trump and the Trump administration, but that is not because Greenblatt wrote a criticism of Trump and called an examination of Shakespeare. It is because Greenblatt wrote about Shakespeare's criticism of tyrants. If you don't think Trump is a budding tyrant but still see the parallels to tyrannical characters, perhaps you should think about that connection more.
All in all, Tyrant is a very well written work on Shakespeare's characters, plays, and the playwright's exploration of political power and I would recommend it.
In William Shakespeare’s day, it wasn’t safe to disagree with power. Unlike today’s America, with the protections of the First Amendment, his world was governed by the near-absolute power of the monarch, the aging Queen Elizabeth. And speaking ill of the queen led to swift and often deadly punishment. Instead, the Bard through his plays would examine the ways and means of tyranny, delving into the past and into foreign lands to create his voices that could say what could not be said frankly (“Greenblatt is the Harvard Shakespeare expert who co-founded new historicism, the lit-crit practice that seeks to place works in their historical context.”)
In the vein of speaking obliquely, this is Greenblatt’s commentary on Donald Trump, though the president is not named in its pages. Instead, the Tyrant focuses on several of the same that appear in Shakespeare's plays, examining them in their foibles for the causes and results of their tyranny. The book is rooted in an article that Greenblatt wrote for the New York Times in 2016. At a friend’s encouragement, he expanded it to a full book. He focuses his examination on Macbeth, Richard III, Lear, Coriolanus and Leontes from A Winter’s Tale (notably leaving out Claudius, perhaps because he is more well-known than most).
While it is ostensibly a commentary on politics, it does not read like just another piece of political punditry or tribal drivel. On the contrary, Greenblatt makes Shakespeare accessible and, well, interesting, as well as providing principles that can be read and interpreted to apply to almost any power selfish politicians or businessman. Reading it is as enjoyable as watching Shakespeare performed well. As Constance Grady puts it in her review of the book, “There is a certain pleasure to watching Shakespeare’s tyrants work, to watching Richard III brazenly woo Lady Anne over the body of a man he killed or listening to Macbeth’s mournful, poetic speeches.”
Perhaps the biggest observation for me, and where the book most departs from other books that more directly take on Trump, is that Tyrant leaves the reader to make his own observations and conclusions. Here is what a tyrant does; is this what we are living through?
A good if chilling look at how deeply Shakespeare could look into the soul of ANY country and its people.