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The Meaning of Shakespeare, Volume 2
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The Meaning of Shakespeare, Volume 2

4.45 of 5 stars 4.45  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  4 reviews
In two magnificent and authoritative volumes, Harold C. Goddard takes readers on a tour through the works of William Shakespeare, celebrating his incomparable plays and unsurpassed literary genius.
Paperback, 306 pages
Published September 15th 1960 by University Of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 1951)
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This guy is completely out of his mind--and amazing. Hardcore New Criticism stuff, the text itself. Psychoanalysis, free-association, the "rather like a whale" is about Hamlet's unconscious emotional stuff" and "Cordelia is essential not dead, Lear's a miracle play" type stuff. Every essay, whether I agreed or disagreed or fell somewhere in between, allowed me to look at the play in question drastically differently and infinitely deeper.
100% bonkers but awesome. Goddard was from a very different age of criticism - one rejecting much of the criticism of the early 20th century, but also coming to terms with a move toward historical study and context rather than the slightly ignorant processes that had come from the Victorian era.

Often, his points are completely absurd, argued on a philosophical level rather than even remotely relating to form or context. And his elitism - particularly when it comes to material he believes to have
In both volumes of his study of Shakespeare's plays, Goddard usefully calls attention to parallels among characters from the different plays--e.g., Prince Hal could be thought of as a later version of Romeo, and Hamlet as a later version of Prince Hal. In this way, it is possible to trace the development of Shakespeare's expressive powers and psychological insight.
Julie Davis
This isn't the sort of book that I'm going to sit down and read cover to cover. However, it IS a perfect resource for anyone dipping into Shakespeare's plays. Harold Goddard's essays cover a depth and breadth that reflect his many years spent teaching. We're very lucky that these were written before his death. I've seen much praise of these two volumes and it is well deserved.
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“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.” 11 likes
“If the distinction is not held too rigidly nor pressed too far, it is interesting to think of Shakespeare's chief works as either love dramas or power dramas, or a combination of the two. In his Histories, the poet handles the power problem primarily, the love interest being decidedly incidental. In the Comedies, it is the other way around, overwhelmingly in the lighter ones, distinctly in the graver ones, except in Troilus and Cressida--hardly comedy at all--where without full integration something like a balance is maintained. In the Tragedies both interests are important, but Othello is decidedly a love drama and Macbeth as clearly a power drama, while in Hamlet and King Lear the two interests often alternate rather than blend.” 2 likes
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