Gary Taylor

Gary Taylor teaches at Brandeis University and is the author of Reinventing Shakespeare.


Gary Taylor, 7 January 1993

Why do people read a biography of Shakespeare? Either as a substitute for or as a supplement to a reading of his work. I may read about Byron or Orton because the life itself is both well-documented and well worth watching; but Shakespeare’s life is neither. How he behaved, what he endured, who he knew, where he went – such information does not expand or deepen my grasp of human possibility, as in their different ways the history of Thomas More or John Milton does. The extant marks of Shakespeare’s mortal passage don’t tell us anything we don’t already know about the world or the human. The works – various and ambiguous as they are – tell us something about both; the life doesn’t. Instead, far more often, we must apply our pre-fabricated theories about the world and the human in order to interpret the artifacts and ambifacts before us.’


Gary Taylor, 9 January 1992

Act Three, Scene Three of Julius Caesar ends with the murder of a poet. It begins with a stage direction: Enter Cinna the poet, and after him the Plebeians. This direction creates two oppositions. The poet is opposed to the plebeians. And ‘Cinna the poet’ is opposed to ‘Cinna the conspirator’, a character with the same name but a different vocation. On these two oppositions – between poet and plebeians, between poet and conspirator – Shakespeare builds his narrative of bardicide.’

Old Dad dead? Thomas Middleton

Michael Neill, 4 December 2008

It is an excellent principle, in literature as in life, to judge a book by its cover; and there is much to be learned from the appearance of the new Oxford Middleton. Even as the blurb declares...

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Terence Hawkes, 22 February 1990

Few things unhinge the British as much as doublet and hose. The merest hint unleashes golden fantasies of order and well-being, yoking together gentility and free-born earthiness within a deep...

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Return to the Totem

Frank Kermode, 21 April 1988

This Textual Companion is described by the publisher as ‘an indispensable companion to The Complete Oxford Shakespeare’, which indeed it is, and it was reasonable to complain, when

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How do you spell Shakespeare?

Frank Kermode, 21 May 1987

When Oxford decided to do Shakespeare they clearly made up their minds that the scale of the operation must be very grand, and a team of scholars has been working hard for eight years to get it...

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Modern Shakespeare

Graham Bradshaw, 21 April 1983

Ann Pasternak Slater’s Shakespeare the Director is the best new book on Shakespeare I have read in the last year, and is prefaced by generous tributes to and from the General Editor of the...

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