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Shakespeare is Hard, But So is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearian Tragedy
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Shakespeare is Hard, But So is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearian Tragedy

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  61 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Is Hamlet really mad or is the world mad? Is Othello merely gullible or is there something about his place in society that makes him vulnerable? Why can there be no happy ending to King Lear? In this radical approach to Shakespearean tragedy, Fintan O'Toole, Ireland's foremost theater critic, shows how Shakespeare's plays have been made unintelligible to modern students.
Paperback, 164 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by Granta UK
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Over the years, I've seen productions of all four of Shakespeare's major tragedies discussed in this book (including a totally scary production of "King Lear" in German, in Mönchengladbach, where Regan and Goneril roared onstage on choppers, in leather from head to toe - I had weird nightmares for weeks afterwards). With the exception of Hamlet, I have always found these plays powerful and disturbing, without necessarily understanding why.

I still don't get "Hamlet" - probably never will. But th
In wrapping up another surprisingly enjoyable unit involving the Merchant of Venice and Hamlet, I am struck by how much I rely upon O'Toole's framework. Not for the students, but for me. Every year, I come back to "Dying As An Art," and I'm drawn in again. Next year, I'm thinking of teaching Macbeth just so I can begin frame the first unit around "The Witches are an embarrassment."
Excellently researched and argued, a whole new and entirely believable context for the four major tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, Lear and Macbeth. A very quick and worthwhile read.
Basically, I fucking love this book.
Another case of revisionist Shakespeare criticism. I adore the subject itself, and this guy comes up with some very pertinent objections to traditional Shakespeare scholarship, but so far it seems as if he's making the same mistake they all do...they make a great case for revising the way we look at Shakespeare, and then turn around and propose a very limiting way of studying his works. All in all, however, a very smart book. So far, I'm enjoying it!
More fun than the average Shakespeare companion. I confess I took solace in this author's claim that students don't really need to known dumb imposing Shakespeare "terms" like tragedy, hero and flaw. Solace, I say, because I sure didn't teach 'em!
Kathy  Petersen
Mr. O'Toole has some interesting takes on Shakespeare's best known tragedies. I'm not always in agreement; I think he fudges in a few places, but his examinations spur more thinking on these, some of my favorite plays.
I love it when a scholar starts a book with "Right, you know what everybody's been saying ? It's bollocks." They immediately get my attention.
Clever, made me love 'Hamlet' even more, among other good things.
Didn't read this edition
but I did read a story bout him
in a different book at school.
Rosemary Griffiths
Witty but informative. An excellent piece of work by an excellent critic.
One of the most useful "radical Shakespeare" criticisms out there.
Quite a good little critical analysis on tragedies, I enjoyed it.
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Fintan O'Toole is a columnist, assistant editor and drama critic for The Irish Times. O'Toole was born in Dublin and was partly educated at University College Dublin. He has written for the Irish Times since 1988 and was drama critic for the New York Daily News from 1997 to 2001. He is a literary critic, historical writer and political commentator, with generally left-wing views. He was and contin ...more
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