Shakespeare for Freedom presents a powerful, plausible and
political argument for Shakespeare's meaning and value. It ranges
across the breadth of the Shakespeare phenomenon, offering a new
interpretation not just of the characters and plays, but also of
the part they have played in theatre, criticism, civic culture and
politics. Its story includes a glimpse of 'Freetown' in Romeo and
Juliet, which comes to life in the 1769 Stratford Jubilee; the
Shakespearean careers of the Leicester Chartist, Cooper, and the
Hungarian hero, Kossuth; Hegel's recognition of Shakespearean
freedom as the modern breakthrough; its fatal effects in America;
the disgust it inspired in Tolstoy; its rehabilitation by Ted
Hughes, and its obscure centrality in the 2012 Olympics.
Ultimately, it issues a positive Shakespearean prognosis for
freedom as a vital (in both senses), unending struggle. Shakespeare
for Freedom shows why Shakespeare has mattered for four hundred
years, and why he still matters today.
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