Demonstrating and defending a method of close reading and historical contextualisation of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, this collection of essays by Tom McAlindon combines a number of previously published pieces with original studies. The volume includes six interpretative studies, all but one of which involve challenges to radical readings of the plays involved, including Henry V, Coriolanus, The Tempest, and Doctor Faustus. The other three essays are critiques of the claims and methods of radical, postmodernist criticism (new historicism and cultural materialism especially); they illustrate the author's conviction that some leading scholars in the field of Renaissance literature and drama, who deserve credit for shifting attention to new areas of interest, must also be charged with responsibility for a marked decline in standards of analysis, interpretation, and argument. Likely to provoke considerable debate, this stimulating collection is an important contribution to Shakespeare studies.
'…crisply written… (McAlindon's) force, clarity and rigour hold the attention and clear the mind.' Times Literary Supplement '…these essays are both stimulating and thought-provoking.' Contemporary Review 'This good book by a distinguished scholar is a necessity, not a luxury, for those in search of exemplary scholarship and criticism… Tom McAlindon has devoted a long, productive, and successful professional life to literary scholarship, concerned with Shakespeare especially but by no means exclusively… this work is in effect something of a summing-up and crowning work…. Shakespeare Minus "Theory" is hard to write about because it speaks so well for itself that one is tempted to quote to back up every assertion..' Renaissance Forum 'This book is one of the most engaging as well as thorough of those undermining the engines of the radical criticism that have attacked the Shakespeare who was not of an age but for all time… McAlindon is a superb critic… McAlindon takes us on a journey through the tragedies in the manner of good teacher would… There are original insights here aplenty… A reader finishes this book eager once again to read Shakespeare and to teach or write about his plays - and to read more Tom McAlindon.' Comparative Drama ’This good book by a distinguished scholar is a necessity, not a luxury, for those in search of exemplary scholarship and criticism, with much to say of value on the subjects of both Shakespeare and ’theory’, the former primary, the latter less a means of understanding than an obstacle to insight, as he convincingly demonstrates. Shakespeare’s himself again, here, and the book will reward the reading of anyone interested in what and how Shakespeare’s plays mean, even if he or she is less interested in how and by whom they have been made to mismean (= Shakespeare plus ’theory’), a topic to which McAlindon gives persistent, lucid, refutative, and corrective attention, and in which many will be interest
Contents: Preface; Taking stock: radical criticism of Shakespeare; Testing new historicism: 'invisible bullets' reconsidered; War and peace in Henry V; Perfect answers: religious inquisition, Falstaffian wit; Cultural materialism and the ethics of reading: or, the radicalising of Jacobean tragedy; Shakespearean tragedy; Coriolanus: an essentialist tragedy; The discourse of prayer in The Tempest; Marlowe plus and minus 'theory': the case of Doctor Faustus; Notes; Appendix; Index.