Companion to Shakespeare's Works (Set): Volume1: The Tragedies; Volume 2: The Histories; Volume 3: The Comedies; Volume 4: The Poems, Problem Comedies, Late Plays edited by Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture)
The Poems, Problem Comedies, Late Plays:
Companion to Shakespeare's Works: Tragedies; Histories; Comedies; Poems,
Problem Comedies, Late Plays were compiled as a single entity designed to offer
a uniquely comprehensive snapshot of current Shakespeare criticism.
Complementing David Scott Kastan's
Companion to Shakespeare, which focused on Shakespeare as an author in his
historical context, these volumes by contrast focus on Shakespeare's works, both
the plays and major poems, and aim to showcase some of the most interesting
critical research currently being conducted in Shakespeare studies.
To that end the editors commissioned scholars from many
quarters of the world - Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United
Kingdom, and the United States - to write new essays that, collectively, address
virtually the whole of Shakespeare's dramatic and poetic canon. The decision to
organize the volumes along generic lines (rather than, say, thematically or
chronologically) was made for a mixture of intellectual and pragmatic reasons.
It is still quite common, for example, to teach or to write about Shakespeare's
works as tragedies, histories, comedies, late plays, sonnets, or narrative
poems. And there is much evidence to suggest that a similar language of poetic
and dramatic "kinds" or genres was widely current in Elizabethan and Jacobean
England. George Puttenham and Philip Sidney - to mention just two
sixteenthcentury English writers interested in poetics - both assume the
importance of genre as a way of understanding differences among texts; and the
division of Shakespeare's plays in the First Folio of 1623 into comedies,
histories, and tragedies offers some warrant for thinking that these generic
rubrics would have had meaning for Shakespeare's readers and certainly for those
members of his acting company who helped to assemble the volume. Of course,
exactly what those rubrics meant in Shakespeare's day is partly what requires
critical investigation. For example, we do not currently think of Cymbeline as a
tragedy, though it is listed as such in the First Folio, nor do we find the
First Folio employing terms such as "problem plays," "romances," and
"tragicomedies" which subsequent critics have used to designate groups of plays.
Consequently, a number of essays in these volumes self-consciously
examine the meanings and lineages of the terms used to
separate one genre from another and to compare the way Shakespeare and his
contemporaries reworked the generic templates that were their common heritage
and mutually constituted creation.
Pragmatically, we as editors also needed a way to divide
the material we saw as necessary for a Companion to Shakespeare's Works that
aimed to provide an overview of the exciting scholarly work being done in
Shakespeare studies at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Conveniently,
certain categories of his works are equally substantial in terms of volume.
Shakespeare wrote about as many tragedies as histories, and again about as many
"festive" or "romantic" comedies, so it was possible to assign each of these
groupings a volume of its own. This left a decidedly less unified fourth volume
to handle not only the non-dramatic verse, but also those much-contested
categories of "problem comedies" and "late plays." In the First Folio, a number
of plays included in this volume were listed among the comedies: namely, The
Tempest, Measure for Measure, All's Well That Ends Well, and The Winter's Tale.
Troilus and Cressida was not listed in the prefatory catalog, though it appears
between the histories and tragedies in the actual volume and is described
(contrary to the earlier quarto) as a tragedy. Cymbeline is listed as a tragedy;
Henry VIII appears as the last of the history plays. Two Noble Kinsmen and
Pericles do not appear at all. This volume obviously offers less generic unity
than the other three, but it provides special opportunities to think again about
the utility and theoretical coherence of the terms by which both Shakespeare's
contemporaries and generations of subsequent critics have attempted to
understand the conventionalized means through which his texts can meaningfully
be distinguished and grouped.
When it came to the design of each volume, the editors
assigned an essay on each play (or on the narrative poems and sonnets) and about
the same number of somewhat longer essays designed to take up larger critical
problems relevant to the genre or to a particular grouping of plays. For
example, we commissioned essays on the plays in performance (both on stage and
in films), on the imagined geography of different kinds of plays, on
Shakespeare's relationship to his contemporaries working in a particular genre,
and on categorizations such as tragedy, history, or tragicomedy. We also invited
essays on specific topics of current interest such as the influence of Ovid on
Shakespeare's early narrative poems, Shakespeare's practice as a collaborative
writer, his representations of popular rebellion, the homoerotic dimensions of
his comedies, or the effects of censorship on his work. As a result, while there
will be a freestanding essay on Macbeth in the tragedy volume, one will also
find in the same volume a discussion of some aspect of the play in Richard
McCoy's essay on "Shakespearean Tragedy and Religious Identity," in Katherine
Rowe's "Minds in Company: Shakespearean Tragic Emotions," in Graham
Holderness's "Text and Tragedy," and in other pieces as well. For those who
engage fully with the richness and variety of the essays available within each
volume, we hope that the whole will consequently amount to much more than the
sum of its parts.
Within this structure we invited our contributors -
specifically chosen to reflect a generational mix of established and younger
critics - to write as scholars addressing fellow scholars. That is, we sought
interventions in current critical debates and examples of people's ongoing
research rather than overviews of or introductions to a topic. We invited
contributors to write for their peers and graduate students, rather than
tailoring essays primarily to undergraduates. Beyond that, we invited a
diversity of approaches; our aim was to showcase the best of current work rather
than to advocate for any particular critical or theoretical perspective. If
these volumes are in any sense a representative trawl of contemporary critical
practice, they suggest that it would be premature to assume we have reached a
post-theoretical era. Many lines of theoretical practice converge in these
essays: historicist, certainly, but also Derridean, Marxist,
performance-oriented, feminist, queer, and textual/editorial. Race, class,
gender, bodies, and emotions, now carefully historicized, have not lost their
power as organizing rubrics for original critical investigations; attention to
religion, especially the Catholic contexts for Shakespeare's inventions, has
perhaps never been more pronounced; political theory, including investigations
of republicanism, continues to yield impressive insights into the plays. At the
same time, there is a marked turn to new forms of empiricist inquiry, including,
in particular, attention to early readers' responses to Shakespeare's texts and
a newly vigorous interest in how Shakespeare's plays relate to the work of his
fellow dramatists. Each essay opens to a larger world of scholarship on the
questions addressed, and through the list of references and further reading
included at the end of each chapter, the contributors invite readers to pursue
their own inquiries on these topics. We believe that the quite remarkable range
of essays included in these volumes will be valuable to anyone involved in
teaching, writing, and thinking about Shakespeare at the beginning of the new
Latin American Shakespeares edited by Bernice W. Kliman, Rick J. Santos (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press) The subjects of the essays in Latin American Shakespeares range from the nineteenth century through the present; from high- to middle- to low-brow stories, plays, films, and poems; from Mexico to Argentina, Chile, Cuba, the U.S. barrio, and diverse sections of Brazil; from artists deservedly famous to artists undeservedly obscure. Shakespeare in Latin America is often implicated in struggles for power—tangentially or directly--and therefore swells the story of world wide political Shakespeare. For Latin American artists, the Shakespearean legacy is available for co-optation not only through parody, adaptation, and both reverent and irreverent (re)creation but also through absorption into unique indigenous genres.
Rick J. Santos in his introduction writes of mestizo Shakespeare—mixed as are the native, colonial, and immigrant populations throughout Latin America. In part 1, José Roberto O'Shea queries whether the father of Brazilian theater can be an impresario who performed Shakespeare rather than encouraging native writers. Roberto Ferreira da Rocha explores how a planned political statement against a military dictatorship failed to make its point. Jesus Tronch-Pérez discusses the independence of two adaptors of Hamlet who push the view of the inactive prince to its limits. Gregary J. Racz explains how Pablo Neruda acted upon his understanding of Romeo and Juliet as an exemplar of his views about society. Juan J. Zaro explores political exile Leon Felipe's spiritual rather than political approach. Catherine Boyle examines the translation of Lear by Nicanor Parra during the transitional period after the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship. Margarida Gandara Rauen offers a close-up view of Guilherme Schiffer Durães's transgressive use of Caliban.
In part 2, Grace Tiffany explores Borges's oeuvre widely and deeply, confirming the fiction writer's fascination with the poet-playwright. Josè Luiz Passos clarifies the debt of Brazilian realist novelist Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis to Victor Hugo and Shakespeare. Lorena Terando argues that even without any direct allusion, Alejo Carpentier's novel Los pasos perdidos draws upon The Tempest. Ines Senna Shaw exposes the insidious gender messages in seemingly innocuous Shakespearean stories for children.
Part 3 focuses on Romeo and Juliet Alfredo Michel Modenessi explores Mexican comedian Cantinflas's parodic assault on the play. Philippa Sheppard compares sixteenth-century suspicions by the English of their Latin neighbors to the Latino/a elements in Baz Luhrmann's film. Thais Flores N. Diniz champions the political function of parody within a native Brazilian form, the chanchada. Aimara da Cunha Resende places her discussion of native forms, cordel literature and telenovela, within a philosophical approach to literature and life. Eleven of the fifteen essays are performance centered, and the specially commissioned bibliography by Josè Ramon Diaz Fernandez also reflects this interest in performance.
Excerpt: Shakespeare in Latin America is as mixed as the people themselves. Hence our title "Latin American Shakespeares." The subjects of the essays included in this volume range from the nineteenth century through the present; from high- to middle- to low-brow stories, plays, films, and poems; from Mexico to Argentina, Chile, Cuba, the U.S. barrio, and diverse sections of Brazil; from artists deservedly famous to artists undeservedly obscure.
In the postmodern world the question of national identity and culture has been systematically challenged by a variety of people whose values do not fit nicely into preexisting categories. Every "mixed" community, every mixed country, experiences a disorienting and energizing confusion. These phenomena flower in multilayered aspects of everyday life, producing a myriad of "unstable," fragmented subjects and imagined communities (Benedict Anderson's term), which cannot be isolated or theorized apart from the whole context in which they are (re) produced. As Yeats predicted, "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold." To fall apart, however, does not mean to be annihilated but simply to reorganize the world.
At a first glance, the "mestizo logic" of reconceptualizing the world developed by many Latin American thinkers may seem chaotic, unorganized and contradictory. However, as the essays in this volume attest, understanding the "logic of multiplicity" is a crucial task for anyone who wishes to engage Latin America from a noncolonizing perspective. It is worthwhile to highlight that Latin America philosophical tradition is based on "cultural cannibalism," a concept introduced by Oswald de Andrade in the "Manifesto antropófago" [Man-Eating Manifesto] (1928), which describes a resistant method to absorb information from First World countries without losing cultural autonomy. In the first half of the twentieth century, intellectuals, such as Oswald de Andrade, Roberto Retamar, Jose Marti, and others, suggested that instead of pushing it away Latin Americans should "devour" the Western invasion. This cultural cannibalism—the absorbing, transforming, and incorporating of new elements—would foster a new order, allowing those traditionally excluded and marginalized the opportunity to reclaim their agency.
With the culture-specific idea of cannibalism in mind, we decided to explore the extent to which Shakespeare has infiltrated high and low cultures in Latin America. This is the central question we posed in the call for papers for this anthology. Since Latin America consists of more than thirty diverse countries we did not expect or want a univocal set of coherent answers. In many cases the relationship between Shakespeare and Latin America was shaped in complex and indirect ways.
As an array of responses started pouring in from the United States, Europe, and, of course, Latin America, a polyphonic conversation started to take shape. At times contributors restated and complemented, as well as contradicted or shed new light on, each other's arguments. The responses addressed, from various perspectives, colonialism and national identities (O'Shea, Terando); local and First World cultural values (Diniz, Modenessi); national and universal literatures (Boyle, Passos, Tiffany); performance criticism and film analyses (da Rocha, Sheppard); translation problems (Tronch-Perez, Zaro); and discussions on gender, race, and other social issues (Shaw, Resende)—all in relation to Shakespeare. Our contributors offer a wide range of perspectives that help contextualize the extent to which the English playwright has been accepted and/or modified (or cannibalized) to suit Latin American cultures. This cannibalism is poetic justice because Shakespeare was an early user of the word anthropophagi (c. 1601, Othello 1.3.144) and the first to use the word Caliban (c. 1611, The Tempest), which, as the OED informs us "is app [arently] another variant of Carib-an," referring to the West Indian Carib nation, from which the term "cannibal" derives. It is appropriate, then, for Latin Americans to cannibalize Shakespeare metaphorically.
We arranged the essays in three major parts focusing on adaptations for readers (page) and for spectators (stage and screen). Authors from Borges (in Tiffany's essay) to Parra (in Boyle's study) confront Shakespeare as inspiration or hurdle. For performance practitioners, Shakespeare can be an icon that lends legitimacy to nascent theater and film. More often it is a lens through which the people (generally meaning the disenfranchised classes) can redefine themselves, and sometimes it is a political weapon to shape cultural, social, and political life. Some essays fall into more than one category (see for instance Aimara da Cunha Resende's essay, which encompasses all three categories, page, stage and screen; and Juan J. Zaro's, which discusses translations by León Felipe for performance that now exist only on the page). The abstracts at the end of this volume should help readers negotiate a path through the abundant mix.
Gary Racz and Catherine Boyle show how in times of military repression in Chile and after, Shakespeare could serve as a vehicle "above suspicion" to contest the status quo. The forces engendered by the remnants of colonialism and the aftermath of dictatorships shape an audience for Shakespeare (just as Shakespeare was the Aesopian voice of dissent in the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe). On the other hand, both Ines Shaw and Aimara Resende da Cunha analyze how particular adaptations have been used by those in power to legitimize and support the (or "an") establishment.
Always, a strong current of internationalism as well as nationalism underlies Latin Americanism, and Shakespeare works well in that tradition (see, among others, essays by O'Shea, Passos, Tiffany, Terando, Tronch-Perez, and Zaro). Shakespeare in Latin America responds to the changes brought about by the internationalization of industry and by machine and information technology—including, in the nineteenth century, the steamship, the telegraph, and the powered printing press and since then the telephone, the computer, and the Internet, to name a very few of the many technologies that cross cultures and continents.
In selecting essays, one question we faced was how to define "Latin America." Ultimately, we decided to eliminate works centered on the English and French Caribbean and those by or about Latin American Shakespearean scholars whose contributions to the international Shakespeare project is well appreciated and recognized in other venues but whose submissions did not focus on Latin America. We include Philippa Sheppard's nuanced essay on Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet because it speaks to issues related to Latino/a diasporas and captures an image of Latino/a concentration and influence within the United States.
Judging not only by the essays we received but also by Jose Ramon Diaz Fernandez's bibliography, it appears that Shakespeare is unevenly present in Latin America. While Brazil has by far the most fertile territory where numerous productions, adaptations, parodies, and scholarship have bloomed (seconded by Mexico and Argentina), countries like Bolivia or Paraguay, for example, have yielded virtually nothing. A further question is why Shakespeare is welcomed in some communities—even those where knowledge of Shakespeare is only title deep—while the plays are virtually unknown in others.
In Brazil, the history of Shakespeare on stage precedes independence. Shakespeare, or rather, Shakespearean plays derived from European translations, as Jose Roberto O'Shea notes, were first produced in Brazil during the colonial period. In its early phases when native theater could not afford to dispense with European collaboration due to a lack of dramatic tradition, "Frenchified" adaptations of Shakespeare's work (particularly via Ducis's translations of the plays) helped pave the way to the development of a national theater. In the nineteenth century, Joao Caetano dos Santos's work as actor-manager in Brazil anticipates that of the world-famous Italian and other actors who toured throughout the Western hemisphere playing Othello, Hamlet, and Macbeth. This is not to say that Latin American dramatic and literary traditions stem from and are built upon a Shakespearean foundation alone. Although Shakespeare was, and continues to be, an important and consistent influence in the trajectory of nation building through literature and the arts, as many of our contributors observe (see, for example, O'Shea, Boyle, and Terando) , it is important to mention that, in the larger literary and dramatic milieu, Shakespeare is one among many authors, theorists, and traditions that give shape to the composite body of Latin American literature and dramaturgy. Artists considered in this collection cite as influences Aeschylus, Aristotle, Artaud, Brecht. and many more (see, for example, Passos and Rauen).
Another point worth noting—and maybe this is the key to the successful, albeit unlikely "happy marriage" between a politically troubled Latin America and Shakespeare—is the way Shakespeare's work has been used equally to support and to contest the establishment. See, for example, how specific translation and adaptation choices have weighed on the final product's reception—making productions collude with (da Rocha, Resende) or contest (Racz and Boyle) local powers. The openness and malleability of the plays allow room for attention to local specificities, while placing them into a larger frame (as illustrated by Rauen's and Passos's essays). This makes them particularly suitable and engaging for Latin America's multiple peoples and cultures. For, as some of its major thinkers, such as Sergio Bellei, Glória Anzaldua, and Mario de Andrade, have noted, the essence of Latin American identity is shaped by abrogation—a continuous process of discarding—as well as by mixing and incorporating to make the multiplicity that is Latin American today.
In his analysis of an obscure Mexican film parody of Romeo and Juliet, Alfredo Modenessi historicizes the multilayered struggle between received cultural authority and local aspirations to be inserted in "the global panorama." This contradictory position reflects the paradox lived by Latin American artists and intellectuals: How can one keep crown and queen and still obtain pardon andheaven? Is it possible to resist the violence of a system of cultural domination while wishing for the private benefits and privileges offered by incorporation and assimilation? Cantiflas, the mid-twentieth-century film star and the protagonist of Modenessi's study, wants it both ways (as do many others)—to parody not only Shakespeare's play but also George Cukor's film of Romeo and Juliet and thus Hollywood and yet to shape himself as an actor suitable for Hollywood fame.
It is not surprising that parody is so abundant among Latin American adaptations. For, as Thais Diniz remarks in her analysis of a parodic take on the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet (on film), "parody and appropriation as strategy are inseparable from political attitude." In the Latin American case, this political approach, as advocated by modernist intellectuals, aims to "devour" the colonizing foreign element and incorporate it as nutrient to the new national hybrid culture. Writing of two distinct parodic versions, one Mexican and one Brazilian, both Modenessi and Diniz infer from the works they analyze that Latin American artists subversively make use of parody to popularize Shakespeare while exploiting his perceived cultural weight as a strategy to criticize local elites who prefer and value "outside" culture (Hollywood, Shakespeare) over native/national ones. This strategy of critique, however, is not always successful, particularly—as in the Cantinflas case pointed out by Modenessi—when the artist's ultimate goal is to belong to the very system he parodies.
Expanding on this "selling out" issue, Terando elaborates on the paradox of cooptation and its enticements: one can be (and often is) consumed and absorbed by a system of "Old traditions," even as one tries to remain true to one's self. According to Terando this is the case of Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier who, she says, through his narrator alludes to Shakespeare's Tempest without ever mentioning the play or Shakespeare.
The Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann similarly insists on carving his own space through a Shakespearean play. Philippa Sheppard looks at Luhrmann's contemporary adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet from a cultural studies perspective, drawing a parallel between Elizabethan anti-Spanish, anti-Italian attitudes and the contemporary Anglo-American anxiety and xenophobic "othering" of its Latino/a population. Sheppard argues that the Luhrmann film is an eloquent critique of the postmodern and apocalyptic view of urban American multiculturalism. At the same time, it incorporates "serious Shakespeare" when it depicts the young lovers (thus meriting inclusion in the standard repertoire of Shakespeare films) and parody in the depiction of everyone else (thus appealing to those who usually do not attend to Shakespeare and might like to see the great writer taken down a peg). The film, shot in Mexico, reflects a Latin America (or a U.S. barrio) full of grandiose excess, with flamboyant and corrupt religiosity alongside genuine piety.
A production is always the outcome of negotiation and manipulation of a series of other "events"—social, economic, historical, and geographical, to name a few. Accordingly, any given production of Shakespeare in Latin America is a situated political event, where the "Old traditional" European world, which Shakespeare often symbolizes, encounters its "Other" cara a cara [face to face]. The nature and outcome of this encounter is not, however, predetermined in anyway: whether the colonized acknowledges and accepts the old colonial power system or resists and subverts it depends on several variants—and as in Luhrmann's case both can coexist in one production. While a play may be readily adaptable to political aims, the production may not be able to achieve its aims for one reason or another. In his reading of Paulo Autran's Coriolano, Roberto da Rocha demonstrates how a production meant to make a statement opposing dictatorship vitiated its message because of the actors' and the director's egos and competition for popularity. Margarida Rauen discusses Guilherme Schiffer Durães's struggle, in producing and performing in a one-man play based on Caliban in The Tempest, to avoid the much too common portrayal of Caliban as a victimized, objectified, casualty of colonialism. On, the one hand, Autran's Corilano was in a sense undone by collaboration; on the other hand, Durães's A-tor-men-ta-do Calibanus benefited from collaboration with costume, set, and mask designers and with Rauen herself, who translated and codirected the adaptation of the play. Focusing on the performance elements of masks and Brechtian strategies of staging, Rauen analyzes this Brazilian postmodern adaptation to raise the problem of an actor (or a people) who wants to take control of his own representation— and name exploitation for what it is—without allowing the character to be fixed in the victim's role. This is precisely Caliban's dilemma: How does one find a language to denounce oppression without embodying it?
Durães's experience corroborates Boyle's statement within that "a performance is the culminating stage of the process through which the theatrical event has emerged." In her essay for this volume Boyle analyzes Nicanor Parra's theoretical approach to translation (which focuses on linguistic structure rather than on content essence), in order to situate the significance of the space occupied by his translation of King Lear, commissioned for the first production of the play in post-Pinochet Chile. Language is here the privileged medium, more important than specific performance space. However, Boyle,in an earlier work, has defined space generously: it is the historical, the social and economic, the geographic, the intellectual and the artistic space that shapes the culminating moment in the performance space (Boyle 2002).
Since the first stagings of Shakespearean plays in Latin America, issues of language and translation have been significant. While there is a fetishized, elitist, and romanticized desire to be included in and represented by a "sublime" language without marring its original "purity," instinctively there is also a survival instinct to appropriate the alien linguistic system. As Gary Racz, Juan Zaro, and other translation theorists show, the act of translating can be one of selective subversion—the infusing of a native language and culture into a different one is similar to the modernists' tactics of cannibalization: translators make the foreign sound familiar, and by doing so they contaminate and charge it with "nativeness." In his essay, Racz addresses Neruda's double concern in his translation: to salvage the beauty of Shakespearean language and to shift the focus of Romeo y Julieta from the frustration of star-crossed love to a denunciation of war. So, taking their cue from Caliban, whose knowledge of English has taught him how to curse, a great number of Latin Americans have adopted translation as a dynamic act of subversive appropriation. The transmutation techniques, especially the adaptation of native verse forms for the iambic pentameters of the original, discussed by Tronch-Perez in his analysis of a late-nineteenth-century Mexican performance text of Hamlet, are examples of this kind of resistant act of cultural inscription. This Hamlet is another example of collaboration with European sources while introducing a Latin beat.
The translation practices of Spanish exiles in Latin America changed both Shakespearean English and local Spanish—fusing both languages into a third, richer and hybrid one. This subversive process of fusion, or linguistic cannibalism, may have occurred unconsciously or not, such as the instance Juan J. Zaro discusses—León Felipe's prose adaptations of three Shakespeare plays while in exile in Mexico. The displaced condition imposed by exile from fascist Spain gave Felipe a particular insight into the Mexican culture that welcomed and absorbed him. But, as Zaro points out, his native Spain has not acknowledged the "miscegenated" Spanish/Mexican vision by honoring him with performances of his adaptations. In Alejo Carpentier's case, addressed by Terando, the mingling of Spanish and English, old and new language and culture takes place as an unconscious process of "remembering" and imprinting the old traditions and values onto the new and hybrid Latino-Americana culture. For Carpentier's protagonist, memory and existence are inseparable and that is what motivates his journey En Busca de los Passos Perdidos [translated into English as The Lost Steps]. All of these translations (or transmutations, adaptations, cannibalized versions) had a significant impact on the formation of national cultures and literatures.
It is not surprising that many of Latin America's most influential and diverse literary figures—such as Machado de Assis and Borges—have been much influenced and fascinated by Shakespeare. In his comparative analysis of Don Casmurro and Othello, Passos shows that Shakespeare's influence played a major role in Machado's break with Romantic traditions, which led to the restructuring, or to the birth, of the Brazilian modern novel. Like many of the other writers in this collection, Passos underscores the Latin American openness to contemporary European influences. It is remarkable, for example, that Machado began translating an 1866 novel by Victor Hugo from a serialized source days after its publication in France, before its translation anywhere else. Though Hugo's novel is not derived from Shakespeare overtly, Passos explores the indirect link between the novel, its translation by Machado, and Machado's concept of Iago, which informed several of his own novels.
Borges is another world figure who admired and assimilated Shakespeare. In her analysis of Borges's literature, Tiffany sees Shakespeare's influence as a springboard leading to deeper understanding of one of the greatest Latin American writers. Tiffany's careful analysis elucidates the unification of Borges's metaphysics and the recurrence of certain themes throughout his prose, poetry, conversations and fiction. According to Tiffany, Borges's "reverence for Shakespeare's art stems from [his] oft stated belief in the limitless expressiveness of the English language." As Borges said: "When I think of Shakespeare I think of a multitude"; nevertheless, Borges consciously distinguished himself from Shakespeare: Borges, unlike Shakespeare, persistently infused his own personality into his work.
From its origins, Shakespeare's texts were conceived for mixed audiences of nobles, merchants, and laborers; men and women. The essays in this collection similarly discuss a wide range of audiences: from the countrywide, every-class TV audience and the lower-class audiences of the remote northeast that Resende discusses, to the children of all classes that Ines Senna Shaw worries about, to the presumably upper-class audiences who attend the major theaters, to the city folk who attend open-air presentations—the collection treats all strata of society.
Shaw focuses on an apparently innocent genre, children's literature, illustrated prose adaptations of several plays, to raise questionsof gender imprinting. She complicates the binary colonizer/colonized and theorizes the normalization of domination by arguing that the interplay of patriarchal ideologies and romantic love is not inconsequential, and that in fact this combination may be especially lethal in Latin America, as illustrated by Resende's discussion of the impact that the government-controlled theater has on the impoverished population of the northeast of Brazil. Shaw's argument—that conservative and romantic love ideologies are blended in simplified adaptations—possibly explains the abundance of responses to`Romeo and Juliet that we received (besides Shaw and Diniz, there are Modenessi, Racz, Resende, and Sheppard). The tactic of using romance to divert the audience's attention from sociopolitical consequences by stripping Shakespeare's texts hor any other work for that matter) of their complexity elucidates the fact that even in the most remote and impoverished parts of Latin America, such as the northeast of Brazil, Romeo and`Juliet has found its way to meld with the most native form of traditional, oral literature, cordel. Resende demonstrates that, as part of a conservative move, a reduced adapted version of Shakespeare's texts imbued with the local dominant oligarchies' ideological value system is disseminated as a didactic, oral form of entertainment for the lower, less educated classes. In contrast, Racz reminds us that historically, in the cannibalizing Latin American context, anything, even Romeo and Juliet, can be commandeered to perform political duties. Neruda, in his adaptation of the play focuses on the poisonous effect of the family feud, which for him represents international strife and warfare.
Similarly, both Shaw and Tronch-Perez prove that Hamlet can be appropriated for a Romanticist agenda. The nineteenth-century performance edition Tronch-Perez studies in detail demonstrates a startling deviation from the usual ending, with Horatio, not Hamlet, killing the king. In making that decision the authors carry through to the end the implications of Goethe's Romantic theory of the delicate, noble prince—another piece of evidence for the embrace by Latin Americans of European culture and their ability to bend their sources to their own purposes.
Jose Ramón Diaz Fernández's painstakingly assembled bibliography, especially compiled for this volume, reveals that Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear, Othello, and The Tempest, in addition to Romeo and Juliet, have been historically the most popular plays in Latin America—as they are worldwide. By including his extensive and resourceful research, undertaken on three continents, we hope to catalogue trends, register untapped possibilities, and map the way for future studies of Shakespeare in Latin America.When we broadcast our call for contributions, we requested anything from notes to articles too long for most journals. As it happens, we accepted only a few pieces that fell at each of the outside boundaries, as well as several that pushed the limits for most journals—not only in length but also in tone and content. As we anticipated, not all the questions we posed in our call for papers were answered and many "answers" have led to further questions. What the essays in this collection offer readers is a tangible picture allowing them to his toricize and place Shakespeare in context-specific situations. But this collection does not aim, or claim, to exhaust the subject; on the contrary, our goal is to provoke questions that will stimulate future conversations.
Time is Out of Joint: Shakespeare as Philosopher of History by Agnes Heller (Rowman & Littlefield) this philosophic tour of the Bard is thought provoking and an interesting way to explore the underlying themes of modernity. Heller handles the Shakespearean oeuvre from a philosophical perspective, finding that Shakespeare's historical dramas reflect on issues and reveal puzzles that were taken up by philosophy proper only in the centuries following them. Shakespeare's extraordinary handling of time and temporality, the difference between truth and fact, that of theory, and that of interpretation and revelatory truth are evaluated in terms of Shakespeare's own conjectural endeavors, and are compared with early modern, modern, and postmodern thought. Heller shows that modernity, which recognized itself in Shakespeare only from the time of Romanticism, found in Shakespeare's work a revelatory character which marked the end of both metaphysical system-building and a tragic reckoning with the inaccessibility of an absolute, timeless truth. Heller distinguishes the four stages found in constantly unique relation in Shakespeare's work (historical, personal, political, and existential) and probes their significance as time comes to fall out of joint" and may be again set aright. Rather than initially bestowing upon Shakespeare the dubious honorary title of philosopher, Heller probes the concretely situated reflections of characters who must face a blind and irrational fate either without taking responsibility for the discordance of time, or with a responsibility which may both transform history into politics, and set right the time which is out of joint. In the ruminations and undertakings of these characters, Shakespeare's dramas present a philosophy of history, a political philosophy, and a philosophy of (im)moral personality. Heller weighs each as distinctly modern confrontations with the possibility of truth and virtue within a human historical condition no less multifarious for its momentariness."
A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare by Dympna Callaghan (Blackwell
Companions to Literature and Culture: Blackwell) The
question is not whether Shakespeare studies needs feminism, but whether feminism
needs Shakespeare. The all-women team of contributors to
A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare argues that not
only is Shakespeare important for women, his works are specifically important
The collected essays address issues vital to feminist inquiry such as race, sexuality, the body, queer politics, and the advent of capitalism, but also appropriate ground that has been hitherto regarded as terrain hostile to feminism, such as textual editing and theatre history.
Contributors include both influential voices in the field and new feminist scholars offering fresh and exciting insights. Each contributor is committed to providing beginning students (both female and male) with an accessible foundation for study, while negotiating for the more advanced reader the urgent issues of the field.
A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare is the first feminist statement on Shakespeare for the 21st century. Excerpt: In my more distrustful moments, I sometimes feel that feminist Shakespeareans are a persecuted minority, vulnerable to attack from all sides. More reactionary non‑ (if not anti‑)feminists claim that feminism has "gone too far" and is only outlandishly brought into juxtaposition with the venerable activities of Shakespearean scholarship. Rather than dismissing concerns about gender and sexuality (as "pelvic studies" in one particularly retrograde instance I came across recently), a more progressive school of thought claims that these issues are already assimilated into the mainstream of a post‑feminist, post‑gender world. Nor is there much comfort to be had within the feminist community, where there is an insistent critique of abstruse intellectualism in general, and the energy spent on elite literary culture in particular. For feminists in other spheres of life and academic discipline often regard Shakespeare as at worst irrelevant and at best marginal to the core of its concern: the status of women.
Feminist Shakespeareans must tackle the onslaught, then, from both outside the perimeters of feminist concern and, more significantly, within them. For if the essentialist view of identity has been dispatched in terms of gender, race, class, and a host of other categories, so that we no longer consider, for example, people to be wholly or primarily defined by their biology, skin color, or socio‑economic status, it remains in relation to the feminist Shakespeare scholar. Under the mantle of this identity, it is unfairly assumed that one reads Shakespeare but none of his contemporaries, no early modern women writers, no non‑canonical writers. Allegedly insulated in the bowels of the library from the toils and troubles of life in general, at the start of the millennium feminist Shakespeareans are even thought, however unwittingly, to contribute and compound social ills by failing to engage in practical politics.
I will admit that such perceptions, though not wholly unwarranted, may unreasonably amplify the dilemmas facing people of a feminist persuasion who study Shakespeare. I must further concede ‑ however reluctantly ‑ that such criticism, paradoxically, is itself an integral part of feminist Shakespeare scholarship. For questions about both scholarly and political relevance are of course also questions that feminist Shakespeareans ask themselves all the time because we necessarily also belong to broader intellectual and political communities, whose critiques not only pressure but also shape feminist studies of Shakespeare. Even, or perhaps especially, blunt, uncomfortable questions like "What's the point?" ‑ often posed not by "experts," but by students, those most vigorous representatives of a feminist future ‑ have an invaluable place here. A scholarly example of this phenomenon is to be found in a recent commentary by feminist cultural historian Margaret King, who argues against cauonicity in all its forms, and whose argument has crucial implications for the study of Shakespeare as literature's most venerated and studied canonical object:
The scholar must turn away from the grand monuments: the palaces, cathedrals, fortifications, and most of the painted and sculpted works of art. To understand women, it is necessary to look at the objects most associated with them, above all, spun, woven, sewn, embroidered by female hands; their boxes, books, and toys; the beds, chairs, stools and buckets associated with cooking, laundering, and giving birth; the rooms in which they sat to spin, sew, weave, embroider, cook, and talk. (King 1997: 22)
For if the object of feminist inquiry is "women" of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, then Shakespeare, undoubtedly the grand monument of literary studies, would seem to offer only a very oblique bearing on the subject. While, indeed, there must be something to be gleaned about women's diurnal domestic activities in Shakespeare's plays, these are heavily mediated by male representation and the constraints of literary convention.
Of course, the importance of juxtaposing canonical information with all kinds of new knowledge about women in Shakespeare's time cannot be underestimated. However, feminist Shakespeareans are also interested in how the plays may reflect real women as well as how they help produce and reproduce ideas about women that then shape, perpetuate, or even disturb prevailing conditions of femininity. For "woman" is never an already accomplished, cold, hard, self‑evident fact or category, but always a malleable cultural idea as well as a lived reality that, to use a Derridean formulation, always already has a history. An example framed within the theoretical terms of Judith Butler's important book, Excitable Speech, may make this clearer. In misogynist diatribe, for instance, the word "whore" (examined in detail by one of the contributors to this volume, Kay Stanton) does not secure its injurious effect because women are powerless victims who wilt at its very utterance. Rather, the word is injurious because in the long history of its usage it has become freighted with systemic patriarchal violence. (Notably, this remains true whether enunciated by males or females ‑ women regularly slandered and defamed one another in early modern England ‑ because women, no less than men, inhabit and implement the social and conceptual structures of the patriarchal order.) A staggering, old man who drinks to allay the poverty and misery of his life and calls a woman a "whore" before he passes out cold on the stone floor of a tavern is not a powerful representative of patriarchy, but his words nonetheless may have the power to wound. "Whore" is probably the worst name you can call a woman in Shakespeare's England and its capacity to "wound" means not only the power to hurt someone's feelings but potentially also to deprive women (who might be disowned by their kin as the result of allegations of unchastity) of all means of social and economic support. This word has accrued patriarchal power and its attendant material effects by means of its insistent reiteration in the culture. That is, there is no such thing as an isolated instance of the denigration of women ‑ were it isolated; it would be devoid of cultural power. However the way that history is always inextricably woven into the materiality of discourse applies not just to particular words relating to women, but to the entire edifice of gender organization itself. Thus, femininity is continually produced and reproduced in ways that may subvert conventional understandings or, more commonly, in ways that may further subjugate women, and the operation of this reiteration has to be carefully unraveled and examined in any given historical and/or discursive instance. If language in general is crucial to any understanding of gender organization, then canonical representations of women‑ that is preeminent cultural re‑presentations, reiterations, selfconscious reenactments and rearticulations of the condition of femininity ‑ hold a hugely important place. However, they do so only in relation to all manner of noncanonical knowledges and texts. That is, we can only tell what Shakespeare means about gender, sexuality, race, or social relations by reading his texts in the context of the culture in which he wrote them.
What answers there are, then, to the critiques of feminist Shakespeare studies it must be emphasized are historically complex and intellectually demanding. Indeed, this volume aims to push ahead with uncomfortable questions rather than to offer reassuring answers. For only by doing so can feminism thrive both in its intellectual agenda and as a vibrant social politics. Crucially, all work that conceives itself as feminist necessarily situates itself within a wider political purpose. That purpose, however, is not necessarily, of course, a practical or pragmatic one. Thus, none of the contributors to this volume believes that her essay will diminish patriarchal violence, the number of women on the welfare rolls, or demolish the ubiquitous glass ceiling. Of course, attention to Shakespeare does not prohibit feminist scholars from vigorous participation in the social issues so central to the feminist agenda, and, more to the point, it does not magically extricate Shakespearean feminists from the world of gender trouble, or more specifically, the institutional issues which daily concern feminist educators and students. The point is that no single feminist intervention is an isolated act. Contributors to this volume are part of an ever‑growing body of scholarship that has set out to discover what the world, and in this instance, quite specifically what a hugely influential body of canonical literature, might look like from the perspective of women, from the margins of hitherto patriarchal knowledge.
While the objection to feminist pragmatism can be fairly readily dispatched, perhaps a more difficult critique of the intellectual project of feminist Shakespeare scholarship is one I have only touched on so far, namely, that it further marginalizes already neglected non‑canonical women writers. Feminist Shakespeareans no longer consider themselves as purely literary scholars but as cultural historians who are especially interested in women's own representations of themselves, which range from poetry to embroidery. Indeed, the interest in women's writing in particular has been a vital part of redrawing the map of Renaissance literature in general. As Maureen Quilligan points out in making the case for reading non‑canonical women writers in relation to canonical men, the effect is not merely "sticking a heretofore unnoticed feature onto the map but by seeing how that new feature changes the relationship among all other features.”
The kind of intervention feminist Shakespeare scholarship understands itself to be making is gestured to in another context by Judith Butler in the epigraph to this introduction. What is at stake for Butler is how to do things differently, how to understand differently. Interestingly, what she says is something Shakespeare scholars have known all along, namely, that performance altered Shakespeare's playtexts and continues to do so ‑ that is, that changes in understanding and interpretation of the variety that feminist scholarship seeks to effect are already written into the cultural transactions of theater.
Other forms of reiteration have, however, also proved necessary: feminists have had to repeat themselves in order to be understood. But now, at least in the realms of Renaissance literary criticism, feminism is so much a part of the common currency of the discourse, that, as Carol Neely pointed out at the 1997 meeting of the Modern Language Association in San Francisco, feminism barely needs announce itself. Thus, feminist Shakespeare is caught in the position of being, depending on how you look at it, completely integrated or completely invisible. On the one hand, it is in an important sense a measure of the work done by feminist Shakespeareans over the last twenty years that our project is likely, as we have noted, to be subject to far more rigorous scrutiny and interrogation from within the feminist ranks than outside them. No class or conference worth its salt, after all, fails to include some reference to the gender hierarchy which so fundamentally informs the culture of Shakespeare's England. On the other hand, the questionable progress of feminism may be measured by Stephen Orgel's infamous declaration that "Everyone in this [Renaissance] culture was in some respects a woman" (Orgel 1996: 124). Orgel writes from the position of an anti ‑essentialism so radical that it is impossible to posit the real historical existence of women, let alone women's oppression. He argues, in other words, that back then everybody ‑ male and female ‑ was victimized anyway. However, the difference between men being subordinate within the social hierarchy, to which Orgel alludes, and the position of women is not just a relative but rather an absolute distinction. This distinction is, in fact, foundational to the feminist enterprise and constitutive of the very mist politics, which concerns itself with the historical, structural, and systemic facts of women's subjugation. (There was, for instance, no notion in the period of releasing women from traditional social roles.) Even where the oppression of women overlaps with certain other instances of difference ‑ such as race and class ‑ it is never wholly coincident with them. Furthermore, despite backlash rumors to the contrary, feminism has no investment in identifying the complex subjugation of women in patriarchy with mere victimization. Nor can the position of women be reduced to or elided with all other forms of social hierarchy. In short, feminism, while in some sense more prominent than ever, has not quite escaped the danger of being swept under the carpet, and has certainly not escaped the necessity of repeating itself in order to be properly understood.
The aim of this volume is to demonstrate feminist visibility ‑ even to the point of conspicuousness ‑ and its integration into the broader field of Shakespeare studies via a series of overlapping categories: the history of feminist Shakespeare criticism, text and language, social economies, sexuality, race, and religion. Beginning with an account of the origins of feminist readings of Shakespeare and their contribution to the political project of feminism, the essays included here cover historical and theoretical contexts and perspectives as well as readings of Shakespeare's texts within a feminist problematic. In particular, the essays in this volume demonstrate that feminism, because it commands a view from the margins, is especially well placed to access the eccentric categories of Renaissance knowledge ‑ those aspects of thought in the period ranging from female circumcision to early modern ideas about the blood ‑ that sit uneasily with our own but are nonetheless central to the period's core concerns ‑ in these instances, religion and national identity.
Feminism is about creating the future differently by looking at history differently. And, of course, we cannot tell what the future, what that world beyond patriarchy might be. Here our project might be seen to parallel that of our Renaissance humanist forbears who ushered in the era of modernity only by looking back and examining afresh a world long past.
Shakespeare's World and Work: An Encyclopedia for Students edited by John F. Andrews (Charles Scribners Sons) This 3 volume set is designed for middle school readers and is pleasantly arranged with a first-rate blend of content: sidebars, black-and-white illustrations, color insert section in each volume, marginal definitions, and chronologies on Shakespeare-related material. Alphabetically arranged the entries range from a half page to about six pages. The content is filled with significant information written in a plain style. Portions of Shakespeare's life and times are examined. Information about Elizabethan acting companies and agriculture practice to weddings customs and the role of women as well as articles on the divisive authorship theories are included. There is information on occupations, cities and towns, music, literature, society, trade, warfare, science, medicine, and Shakespeare on the screen. Especially useful are the discussions of the plays and sonnets, their themes, characters, and settings, as well as the more abstract Renaissance concepts of love, madness, nature, and loyalty. A comprehensive index is found in each book and selected bibliography in the final volume includes dictionaries, plays, movies, adaptations, biographies, periodicals, and online resources. It is a handy and informative introduction to Shakespeare’s context, drama, poetry and his influence.
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