Shakespeare on Politics

Book - 2018 | First Edition.
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As an aging, tenacious Elizabeth I clung to power, a talented playwright probed the social causes, the psychological roots, and the twisted consequences of tyranny. In exploring the psyche (and psychoses) of the likes of Richard III, Macbeth, Lear, Coriolanus, and the societies they rule over, Stephen Greenblatt illuminates the ways in which William Shakespeare delved into the lust for absolute power and the catastrophic consequences of its execution.

Cherished institutions seem fragile, political classes are in disarray, economic misery fuels populist anger, people knowingly accept being lied to, partisan rancor dominates, spectacular indecency rules--these aspects of a society in crisis fascinated Shakespeare and shaped some of his most memorable plays. With uncanny insight, he shone a spotlight on the infantile psychology and unquenchable narcissistic appetites of demagogues--and the cynicism and opportunism of the various enablers and hangers-on who surround them--and imagined how they might be stopped. As Greenblatt shows, Shakespeare's work, in this as in so many other ways, remains vitally relevant today.

Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton & Company, [2018]
Edition: First Edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780393635751
Branch Call Number: 822.33 D-G
Characteristics: 212 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 25, 2018

Stephen Greenblatt's Tyrant shines a light on today's political stage -- and the theatre of some of Shakespeare's most dreaded tyrants. My review is on @Medium. Thanks for reading.

Jun 06, 2018

A great oblique study -- Shakespeare was a genius at being oblique -- of how societies fall under the rule of someone who demonstrates Richard III's "limitless self-regard, law-breaking, pleasure in inflicting pain, and desire to dominate," and what can be done about it.

JCLGreggW Mar 22, 2018

A thin volume that examines the traits of tyrants through the lens of characters in the plays of Shakespeare, Greenblatt's accessible and fascinating book is the best of both the British Lit and PoliSci classes you took in school but completely forgot about.

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