Just who is “Shakespeare”? And what is it that makes him continue to resonate so powerfully with performers, critics, and scholars? In this original examination of Shakespeare’s works and their appeal to our senses, acclaimed Shakespeare scholar Bruce R. Smith asserts that the undiminished staying power of Shakespeare has less to do with ideology than with the distinctive ways in which his poems and plays capture our imagination. Phenomenal Shakespeare moves well beyond traditional treatments of Shakespeare to explore not just the “idea” of the playwright, but the range of sometimes incompatible ideas that Shakespeare represents in the biographical, political, psychological, and ethical arena. This thought–provoking text provides a critique of contemporary approaches to Shakespeare, while also celebrating the staying power of Shakespeare on stage, on film, and on the page.

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