- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 8, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393635759
- ISBN-13: 978-0393635751
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics 1st Edition
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“Elegant and deftly written.”
- Eliot A. Cohen, Washington Post
“[Tyrant] is valuable less for what it has to say about Shakespeare's plays than for how it applies the wisdom it has acquired through careful study of these works to the crisis roiling American democracy.”
- Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times
“Both the risk and the thrill of this rhetorical daring electrifies Tyrant. Shakespeare lived five centuries ago, yet Greenblatt's book has the feel of a series of urgent and very contemporary dispatches.”
- Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor
“In this brilliant, beautifully organized, exceedingly readable study of Shakespeare’s tyrants and their tyrannies―their dreadful narcissistic follies, their usurpations and their craziness and their cruelties, their arrogant incompetence, their paranoid viciousness, their falsehoods and their flattery hunger―Stephen Greenblatt manages to elucidate obliquely our own desperate (in Shakespeare’s words) 'general woe.'”
- Philip Roth
“Tyrant is a striking literary feat. At the outset, the book notes how Shakespeare craftily commented on his own times by telling tales of tyrants from centuries before. In an act of scholarly daring, Greenblatt then proceeds to do exactly the same thing. Rarely have these blood-soaked creatures seemed so recognizably human and so contemporary.”
- John Lithgow
“An incisive and instructive study of personality politics and the abuse of power―topical literary criticism with classical virtues. ”
- Kirkus Reviews
“Offers a canny parallel to contemporary political concerns…Full of insight, both for lovers of literature and for students of history and politics.”
- Publishers Weekly
“Compelling literary history and analysis.”
“Even those who don't share Greenblatt's political perspective should find his well-informed survey of the making and unmaking of autocratic rulers to be instructive and entertaining. ”
About the Author
Stephen Greenblatt (Ph.D. Yale) is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. Also General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, he is the author of eleven books, including Tyrant, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve: The Story that Created Us, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (winner of the 2011 National Book Award and the 2012 Pulitzer Prize); Shakespeare's Freedom; Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Hamlet in Purgatory; Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World; Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture; and Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. He has edited seven collections of criticism, including Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto, and is a founding coeditor of the journal Representations. His honors include the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize, for both Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England and The Swerve, the Sapegno Prize, the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation, the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale University Graduate School, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, the Erasmus Institute Prize, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of California, Berkeley. He was president of the Modern Language Association of America and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Top customer reviews
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the theme of tyrants that is applicable to so many situations today in the world and is applicable to trends
in the United States. A quick and thoughtful read,
Some other reviews complain that Tyrant is a thinly veiled criticism of Trump and the Trump administration, but that is not because Greenblatt wrote a criticism of Trump and called an examination of Shakespeare. It is because Greenblatt wrote about Shakespeare's criticism of tyrants. If you don't think Trump is a budding tyrant but still see the parallels to tyrannical characters, perhaps you should think about that connection more.
All in all, Tyrant is a very well written work on Shakespeare's characters, plays, and the playwright's exploration of political power and I would recommend it.
Unfortunately, this book was a missed opportunity. Tyrant is a good analysis of Shakespeare's political views. However, less than 50 pages in you begin to realize that Greenblatt isn't as interested in Shakespeare's politics as much as applying those politics to Donald Trump. I am not defending Donald Trump, but the obvious political motivations behind this book left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the read. Professor Greenblatt's critique of populism is spot on, but Trump wasn't the first major populist in American politics, nor was he the only major populist in the 2016 election. You could easily paint Jack Cade's hatred of the elite onto the rhetoric of the Sanders campaign, for example.
At the end of the day, all populist movements (whether Right or Left) have elements in common. Saying, "this populist movement is similar to Trump" is tantamount to saying "this Republic is similar to the Roman Republic." I get it. Comparing President Trump to tyrants of the past is marketable, and not altogether inaccurate. However, I was hoping this book held Shakespeare's politics as an end in itself rather than a prism in which to view America.