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Shakespeare in a Divided America

Shakespeare in a Divided America

ISBN
9780571338887
Published
12/03/2020
9780571338887
Format
Hardback
Price
£20.00
Paperback
320

About the Book

From the author of 1599, a fresh perspective on the history of the United States – and a timely reminder of Shakespeare’s indelible influence.

A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

One of the New York Times Ten Best Books of 2020

Shakespeare’s position as England’s national poet is established and unquestionable.

But as James Shapiro illuminates in this revelatory new history, Shakespeare has long held an essential place in American culture. Why, though, would a proudly independent republic embrace England’s greatest writer? Especially when his works enact so many of America’s darkest nightmares: interracial marriage, cross-dressing, same-sex love, tyranny, and assassination?

Investigating a selection of defining moments in American history – drilling into issues of race, miscegenation, gender, patriotism and immigration; encountering Presidents, activists, writers and actors – Shapiro leads us to fascinating answers and uncovers rich and startling stories.

But perhaps most pressingly, we learn how, in Trump’s America, the staging of his work has provoked threats of violence and has become a battleground for freedom of speech.

'With the lightest touch and the most formidable scholarship, James Shapiro, once again, proves himself to be an irresistible storyteller. And what an exhilarating and disturbing tale he has to tell. Here is proof that Shakespeare’s power remains undiminished in our divided world.'
Simon Russell Beale

From the author of 1599, a fresh perspective on the history of the United States – and a timely reminder of Shakespeare’s indelible influence.A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEKOne of the New York Times Ten Best Books of 2020Shakespeare’s position as England’s national poet is established and unquestionable.But as James Shapiro illuminates in this revelatory new history, Shakespeare has long held an essential place in American culture. Why, though, would a proudly independent republic embrace England’s greatest writer? Especially when his works enact so many of America’s darkest nightmares: interracial marriage, cross-dressing, same-sex love, tyranny, and assassination?Investigating a selection of defining moments in American history – drilling into issues of race, miscegenation, gender, patriotism and immigration; encountering Presidents, activists, writers and actors – Shapiro leads us to fascinating answers and uncovers rich and startling stories.But perhaps most pressingly, we learn how, in Trump’s America, the staging of his work has provoked threats of violence and has become a battleground for freedom of speech.'With the lightest touch and the most formidable scholarship, James Shapiro, once again, proves himself to be an irresistible storyteller. And what an exhilarating and disturbing tale he has to tell. Here is proof that Shakespeare’s power remains undiminished in our divided world.'Simon Russell Beale
  • James Shapiro

    James Shapiro, who teaches English at Columbia University in New York, is author of several books, including 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (winner of the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize in 2006), as well as Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? He also serves on the Board of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

“In the brilliantly conceived Shakespeare in a Divided America, James Shapiro deftly demonstrates the playwright’s intimate presence in the culture and politics of the New World... This richly researched book is a continual revelation both about Shakespeare and about ourselves.”
- Stephen Greenblatt
“With the lightest touch and the most formidable scholarship, James Shapiro, once again, proves himself to be an irresistible storyteller. And what an exhilarating and disturbing tale he has to tell. Here is proof that Shakespeare’s power remains undiminished in our divided world.”
- Simon Russell Beale

Books by this Author

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