shakespeare’s infinite energies


Unlike the Hitler book—whose discussions are inherently, if grotesquely, fascinating—The Shakespeare Wars is about scholarly quibbles that might seem insignificant to the average reader. Rosenbaum knows this, and from the beginning, he strives to sweep others into his own euphoric orbit. “I want you to care about the argument over pleasure in Shakespeare,” he declares in the preface, and then adds, “Let me begin by describing why I care.” He launches into the first chapter with a life-changing experience he had in Stratford while watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That 1970 production, put on by the legendary director Peter Brook, is best remembered for its avant-garde set design: stark white walls, shiny satin costumes, “trees” made of kinetic metal coils that resembled giant Slinkies. But Rosenbaum insists that the dialogue, not the images, cast the most potent spell.

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