A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works – the Tragedies, edited by Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard. 2003. Read in January and February 2012.
It must be confessed that not much in this book fastened in my long-term memory. I do remember that it was scholarly and a bit heavy reading, but also that there was much that was interesting in it.
It starts with a chapter on Shakespeare and the idea of tragedy and it is noted that “Tragedy, for Shakespeare, is a genre of uncompensated suffering” (page 9). It continues with a chapter that places Shakespeare’s tragedies within the context of his contemporaries’ productions.
There are quite a lot of chapters actually and they deal with emotions, “disjointed times”, love, religious identity and geography. A couple of chapters deal with the Shakespeare tragedies in film.
And then the last ten chapters deal with specific plays: Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Timon of Athens and Coriolanus.
Come to think of it, I’ve used this book a couple of times in my analyses of Hamlet and Coriolanus. I consult it often, but somehow it doesn’t usually offer much for what I’m dealing with in most plays.
Still, it’s good to have on the shelf and it’s worth paging through regularly for inspiration and information. It’s also good for all the notes which provide a wealth of sources – I always enjoy adding to my list of books-to-read.