Anne Barton's essays on Shakespeare and his contemporaries are characterized by their combination of intelligence, humanity and elegance. In this linked but wide-ranging collection, addressing such topics as Shakespeare's trust--and mistrust--of language, "hidden kings" in the Tudor and Stuart history play, and comedy and the city, Barton looks at both major and neglected plays of the period and the ongoing dialogue between them.
"Humane, learned, un-showily stylish and at times moving in their tender intelligence, these essays by Anne Barton...are nourishing to the spirit." London Review of Books "[Barton's] writing is never jargon-ridden or mechanical, and she often illuminates by means of metaphor and simile." Garret, Theatre Magazine "...[a] stunning collection of essays, surely among the best assembled on Shakespeare and his epoch. Barton's breadth and depth of learning and insight are transmitted with clarity, eloquence, and sometimes painful understanding. On Shakespeare and his connection to us, there is simply no one better." Grace Tiffany, Comparative Drama "...a solid body of informed, sensitive, and sensible commentary of which any scholar could be proud and with which future writers on Shakespeare will have to be acquainted. It is a big book but not a formidable one, and a consistent pleasure to read...The book is not one to be read at a sitting, but to be studied long and meditated on longer. It's not often that a book of criticism combines a gift for critical argument with an equal gift for critical appreciation." Robert M. Adams, New York Review of Books "...I was impressed with the book as a whole, which unlike many such collections seems more than merely the sum of its parts...Barton's work is recognizably all of a piece: her focus on ethical issues, her lack of dogmatism, and her alertness to the significance of performance practice make her criticism unique in emphasis and range of perception...Barton makes inspired suggestions about the way the increasing technical sophistication of the Jacobean theater may have influenced Shakespeare's assumptions about the relationship between that familiar duo, nature and art." Katherine Eisaman Maus, SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 "All of the essays, in their detailed and illuminating comparisons, revitalize our sense of Shakespeare's astonishing supremacy within his age, but are also characterized by a steady respect for the less familiar plays of the period, and an evident pleasure in exploring their qualities...[Barton] drives us back to Shakespeare's text with new eyes, new questions, and new understanding." Ian Donaldson, Times Literary Supplement