Kermode, Frank. The Age of Shakespeare.

Author:Pucci, Anthony
Position:Young Adult Review - Book Review

KERMODE, Frank. The age of Shakespeare. Random House, Modern Library. 214p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. c2004. 0-8129-7433-6. $12.95. SA

The distinguished critic Frank Kermode presents Shakespeare as an actor, a playwright, a poet, a minor courtier, and a highly successful businessman. He blends his discussion of Shakespeare's life and works into an analysis of the political, religious, and economic realities of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. The result is an astute assessment of the greatest dramatist in a period of explosive interest in drama. An astounding 3000 plays were written in this time period, of which approximately 650 survive. Kermode demonstrates that as the world of the theatre changed and developed, so too did Shakespeare.

Some plays receive more commentary than others. Of the comedies, he refers to The Two Gentlemen of Verona as "a slight work" and to Love's Labour's Lost as "the finest." He agrees with W. H. Auden that The Merry Wives of Windsor is "'a very dull play indeed.'" As one might expect, he concludes that Hamlet is "the most remarkable" in its "complexity and scope," and explains that in Hamlet Shakespeare uses a "new dramatic language to explore the minds of the characters." This led to a new type of acting he...

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