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Through Shakespeare's Eyes Hardcover – February 1, 2010

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Through Shakespeare's Eyes + The Quest for Shakespeare + Shakespeare on Love: Seeing the Catholic Presence in Romeo and Juliet
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (February 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586174134
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586174132
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Agnes M. Penny on March 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Ever since reading Joseph Pearce's fascinating and informative book, Quest for Shakespeare, which proves beyond doubt Shakespeare's Catholicism, I have been eagerly awaiting the sale of his next book which would interpret his plays from a Catholic mindset. At last Through Shakespeare's Eyes came out, and my husband bought it for me right away. I was not disappointed. This book is not as quick a read as Quest for Shakespeare, as it requires slow, careful reading, but it is more than worth it. Pearce shows how Shakespeare, living in age of Catholic persecution, expresses his Catholic sentiments discreetly but poignantly in three of his plays. His treatment of "The Merchant of Venice" actually takes up more than a third of the book, which surprised me because it is not the most famous or most popular of his plays. But I was not disappointed because it was the first Shakespeare play I read and the one I am most familiar with. I was enchanted to find Catholic meaning hidden in it -- not always so subtly, either! "Hamlet" takes up most of the remainder of the book, which makes sense, as it is probably Shakespeare's most famous play, and Pearce does a wonderful job explaining its themes and its Catholic nuances. "King Lear" just takes up the last few chapters, which also makes sense, as Pearce spent a little time on "King Lear" already in his earlier book. While the reader may want to argue with a few of Pearce's interpretations here and there, overall, Pearce's study makes it clear that there is an enormous number of references in Shakespeare's plays to Shakespeare's Catholic beliefs, his theological disagreement with the Protestants, and his profound sorrow over the persecution in England which led to the deaths of so many holy priests like St. Robert Southwell.Read more ›
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Webster, award-winning author VINE VOICE on March 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joseph Pearce first presented the historical documentation of Shakespeare's Catholicism in "The Quest for Shakespeare." Now he buttresses his earlier conclusions with evidence from three of Shakespeare's plays: The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and King Lear. Not only does Pearce make a convincing argument for Shakespeare's Catholicism, he also addresses many of the errors proposed by modernists and post-modernist to foster some politically-correct theory du jour. In fact, Pearce convincingly points out how many of the misinterpretations of the Bard's writings arise from attempts to view them through the lens of our modern world...without taking into consideration the culture and times that Shapespeare lived in.

Indeed, it was the very atmosphere of Elizabethan England that necessitated Shakespeare's obliqueness. To be openly Catholic at that time was to incur the wrath of the Crown...with the likely consequence of fines, imprisonment, or even a horrible death. Pearce shows how Shakespeare was intimately aware of this through his knowledge of, and possible association with, the martyred Jesuit priests: Fr. Robert Southwell and Fr. Edmund Campion. He even draws parallels between Shakespeare's dramas and the life and writings of these two men.

What is most striking, however, is how Pearce presents the morality, philosophy, and theology of Shakespeare in these plays as being distinctly Catholic...and in direct conflict with the prevailing Machiavelian politics and Relativist philosophies of the day. Overall, it was a most intriguing work that should be read--not just by Catholics--but by every lover of Shakespeare.
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6 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Janet Perry VINE VOICE on August 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joseph Pearce has a problem: he doesn't write scholarship, he writes polemics. And like all polemicists he tends to have a few ideas that he wants to get across and he does so. Repeatedly. This isn't so bad when there are lots of facts and other stuff to write about, so it's less of a problem in his biographies.

But here, where he wanders into the crowded waters off Shakespeare scholarship, it's a serious defect.

He is far too quick is dismiss out of hand scholars who have interpretations of Shakespeare he doesn't like. But does he tell us who, why, or even what they say? No!

He doesn't quote them, he seems only to quote people who wrote quite awhile ago (Samuel Johnson is someone he cites and criticizes most) and only quotes current scholars (meaning in the last decade or so) when they agree with him.

I'm just supposed to take his word on what those scholars say. That's not scholarship -- that's polemic.

That's bad enough, but putting that aside there are real flaws his argument. He only looks at three plays: The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and King Lear. He spends more than half the book on the first, less than 100 pages on the second, and 3 or 4 chapters (under 50 pages) on the third. He says Lear is the most complex and difficult of Shakespeare's plays and then gives you something that is so short and superficial that it belies his initial thoughts about the play.

For Merchant we are given a scene by scene, almost line by line, interpretation of the play. The things he says, especially about Shylock, fly in the face of every interpretation of the play I've seen. But many of his thoughts are worth exploring and he does have a unified vision of the play.

Not so with Hamlet.
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