Shakespeare Among the Moderns: Toward a Mechanics of Modernist Fiction
Modernist writers, critics, and artists sparked a fresh and distinctive interpretation of Shakespeare's plays which has proved remarkably tenacious, as Richard Halpern explains in this lively and provocative book. The preoccupations of such high modernists as T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, and James Joyce set the tone for the critical reception of Shakespeare in the twentieth century. Halpern contends their habits of thought continue to dominate postmodern schools of criticism that claim to have broken with the modernist legacy.Halpern addresses such topics as imperialism and modernism's cult of the primitive, the rise of mass culture, modernist anti-semitism, and the aesthetic of the machine. His discussion considers figures as diverse as Orson Welles and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Shakespeare critics including Northrop Frye, Cleanth Brooks, Stephen Greenblatt, and Stanley Cavell.
Shakespeare's works have been subjected to a continuing process of historical reinterpretation in which every new era has imposed its own cultural and ideological presuppositions on the plays. The most enduring contribution of modernism, Halpern suggests, has been the juxtaposition of an awareness of historical distance and a mapping of Shakespeare's plays onto the present. Using modernist themes and approaches, he constructs new readings of four Shakespeare plays.
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About the Author
Richard Halpern is Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of many books, including Shakespeare's Perfume: Sodomy and Sublimity in the Sonnets, Wilde, Freud and Lacan.
"Closely argued, adventurous.... There is a quite exceptional richness of texture in Shakespeare Among the Moderns. Evidence from widely separated fields of inquiry is marshaled with extraordinary dexterity, and the range of reading is impressive.... This is a book of unusual range, depth, and originality."-- "The Review of English Studies"
"Halpern brings to this familiar terrain a new depth of understanding and precision of focus. This volume is full of important new insights into the appropriation of Shakespeare by English and American critics from T.S. Eliot and James Joyce to Northrop Frye and Stephen Greenblatt."-- "Choice"
"Halpern provides an informative and wonderfully intelligent account of a range of important issues.... There are invaluable discussions of twentieth-century theatrical productions of the plays along with important examples of Shakespeare's transformation in film and other mass media.... Shakespeare among the Moderns sets an exemplary standard of interdisciplinary scholarship.... Shakespeare among the Moderns provides an invaluable synthesis... that helps move discussion beyond the false polarities of the recent culture wars."-- "Studies in English Literature 1500-1900"
"Shakespeare Among the Moderns is an ambitious and endlessly suggestive book, particularly notable for the breadth and depth of its intellectual range and for the conversancy of its author with texts, events, and discourses that extend well beyond the concerns of more garden-variety Shakespeareans.... Shakespeare Among the Moderns if one of the best (and best written) books on Shakespeare published in a long time. It should be required reading for all Shakespeareans interested in charting their path to the new century through an enriched understanding of the one now ending."-- "Shakespeare Bulletin"
"The breadth of Halpern's research is impressive, and the intricacy of his arguments often dazzling. His insights into the individual plays are often perceptive and original.... Halpern's book is learned, subtle, and often illuminating."-- "Northern Light"