This survey of past and present controversies about Shakespearian drama asks about the question: Do the plays hold a mirror up to nature? If so, what is the nature of the "nature" reflected in plays as different as Hamlet and As You Like It?K Is the poet on the side of the angels or, in fact, "of the devil's party" in a play like Richard III? Are Hamlet and Cleopatra more to be morally censured than pitied or admired? How seriously should we take the comedies? Rather than attempting to answer these questions, the author here explains why it is that the plays remain open to critical debate. She concludes that Shakespearian drama provides us with the most artistic challenges to any one-sided account of the ways of the wold it reflects and for this reason, for students and teachers, and for actors and audiences alike, its impact is ultimately liberating.
"[A] teasing and provocative disquisition on contemporary Shakespeare criticism."--Renaissance Quarterly
"The Devil's Party
is a book of genuine literary criticism...it refuses to stay within the safe borders of academic scholarship and insists on engaging the general questions of aesthetics and morality that the works of Shakespeare always raise."--Shakespeare Quarterly
"This is a serious and subtle contribution to the understanding of Shakespeare, as well as a lively and amusing account of current interpretive methods."--Times Higher Education Supplement