Shakespeare's Caliban examines The Tempest's "savage and deformed slave" as a fascinating but ambiguous literary creation with a remarkably diverse history. The authors, one a historian and the other a Shakespearean, explore the cultural background of Caliban's creation in 1611 and his disparate metamorphoses to the present time.
"This is a quite exceptionally sound and illuminating piece of scholarship. It takes a single revealing and well-documented piece of litmus paper, the figure of Caliban in The Tempest , and tracks it through history and geography, literary criticism, theater, book illustration and painting to give a comprehensive and detailed account of the huge changes in the ways it has been seen and interpreted. In doing so, it provides not only a piece of cultural history but a test for some of the most basic shifts in ways of thinking about mankind through the last three centuries. Its history covers not just English and American thought but Spanish American, Caribbean, and African. It is an interdisciplinary study of the best and most rewarding kind. It is a beautifully worked out and immaculate thesis, and an admirably readable book." Andrew Gurr, University of Reading. "Shakespeare's Caliban is a major contribution to Shakespearean criticism, and more widely, to cultural history. This kind of wide-ranging and interdisciplinary study ought to become a feature of writing in the humanities in the next decade." Peter Hulme, University of Essex "This [is an] interesting and remarkably thorough study." Choice "The Vaughans' analyses are exemplary, but what really distinguishes this book is the amount of sheer pleasure that is to be gotten from reading its elegant prose and scrupulous insights." English Language Notes "Shakespeare's Caliban deserves a rousing welcome." Essays in Theatre "Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan take us through the historic phases of the Rorschach that is Caliban...[A] marvellously eclectic record of stage history..." Ralph Berry, Dalhousie Review