Perspectives on Politics in Shakespeare edited by John A. Murley and Sean D. Sutton.
This is an impressive collection by some of the most gifted political thinkers writing on Shakespeare today. After chapters by Paul Cantor and John Alvis on the English history plays (with special attention to Henry V), and David Nichols on the comedies, the volume offers close readings of particular plays, with Mera Flaumenhaft on As You Like It, Pamela Jensen on Measure for Measure , and Leo Paul de Alvarez on Troilus and Cressida. The final essay is a three-part rumination by George Anastaplo on the ways in which Shakespeare used English history, and the ways in which three readers—Elizabeth I, Abraham Lincoln, and John Wilkes Booth—used (or misused) the plays.
The collection is unified by two themes: the political challenges and possibilities posed by modernity, and the significance of Christianity. Cantor, Nichols, Jensen, and de Alvarez explore how Shakespeare's political thought was influenced by, and responded to, Machiavelli's; Alvis, Flaumenhaft, and Anastaplo raise similar questions indirectly. Although the scholars disagree about the extent of Machiavelli's influence, they agree that Shakespeare ultimately parted ways with him—especially in regard to the pursuit of justice and the institution of marriage—due largely to the Bard's more favorable assessment of Christianity.
—Germaine Paulo Walsh
Texas Lutheran University
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This article appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of the Claremont Review of Books