How do our ways of perceiving and producing Shakespeare differ from those of the nineteenth century, and how interrelated has the work of scholars and directors become over this century? Professor Styan's purpose in this book is to discuss the 'revolution' in Shakespeare studies implied by these questions.
'... this book looks, with searching wisdom, at the changes in theatre method and critical heart, the lessening of the gap between lecture room and stage ... Professor Styan ... begins with nineteenth-century Shakespeare, the early antiquarianism of Charles Kemble's King John and of Charles Kean's later Bithynia, Macready's recovery of the Fool ... [he] knows, none better, how to chart his course among the chiding billows and the wind-shak'd surges, the productions of Poel and Granville-Barker, Guthrie and Brook ... by way too of every form of experiment ... This is an important survey, then, of the 'acted passion', the directors' passion and the professors'. It is for scholar, player, and playgoer ... indeed for everyone ... who believes that 'criticism based on a strong sense of the play as something incomplete until it is performed, seems likely to grow in importance'.' J. C. Trewin, Theatre Bookshelf 'J. L. Styan's 'revolution' is the recognition, first, that Shakespeare knew his stuff as a dramatist, and second, that the stage itself is the place to grasp the meaning of Shakespeare's plays. The parallel account given of the growth of the respect of critics for the theatre, and of the respect of directors for the play, is fruitful and interesting ... Professor Styan has given us a fluent and succinct history of Shakespearean production and criticism in this century which should be useful to many readers, including students.' Philip Edwards, The Times Higher Education Supplement