Macbeth by William Shakespeare
(Norton Critical Editions)

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Synopsis

The Norton Critical Edition of Macbeth, Shakespeare's terrifying depiction of a man and woman's fall into evil, derives from the First Folio (1623), the only authoritative text of the play. The edition includes an introduction, annotations, and textual notes.

A rich “Sources and Contexts” section provides readers with an understanding of Macbeth’s origins from earlier texts, specifically the works of the Roman playwright Seneca, the Tudor historian Raphael Holinshed, and a medieval drama The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents and the Death of Herod. The contexts for the play include contemporary debates on predestination vs. free will (Martin Luther vs. Erasmus), witchcraft as fiction or fact (Reginald Scot vs. King James I), the ethics of regicide (an Elizabethan homily vs. Juan de Mariana, S.J.), and a treatise on equivocation (Henry Garnet, S.J.). This edition also features adaptations--Davenant's moralistic Macbeth, some travesties, and Welcome Msomi's recent South African retelling, uMabatha.

Seventeen carefully chosen essays represent four hundred years of critical and theatrical interpretations, from the early observations of Simon Forman and Samuel Johnson to the Romantic readings of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Hazlitt, and Thomas De Quincey, to recent essays by Janet Adelman and Stephen Orgel. Sarah Siddons and Derek Jacobi remember performing Macbeth, and Peter Holland surveys film interpretations.

A Selected Bibliography is also included.
 

About William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying. Robert S. Miola is Gerard Manley Hopkins Chair of English at Loyola University Maryland. He is the author of Shakespearersquo;s Reading, Shakespeare and Classical Comedy: The Influence of Plautus and Terence, Shakespeare and Classical Tragedy: The Influence of Seneca , and The Comedy of Errors: Critical Essays , as well as dozens of articles on sixteenth-century English literature.
 
Published November 26, 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company. 416 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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