Providing a provocative and original perspective on Shakespeare, Peter Holbrook argues that Shakespeare is an author friendly to such essentially modern and unruly notions as individuality, freedom, self-realization and authenticity. These expressive values vivify Shakespeare's own writing; they also form a continuous, and a central, part of the Shakespearean tradition. Engaging with the theme of the individual will in specific plays and poems, and examining a range of libertarian-minded scholarly and literary responses to Shakespeare over time, Shakespeare's Individualism advances the proposition that one of the key reasons for reading Shakespeare today is his commitment to individual liberty - even as we recognize that freedom is not just an indispensable ideal but also, potentially, a dangerous one. Engagingly written and jargon free, this book demonstrates that Shakespeare has important things to say about fundamental issues of human existence.
Peter Holbrook teaches English Literature at the University of Queensland.
Introduction; Part I. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Selfhood: 1. Hamlet and failure; 2. 'A room...at the back of the shop'; 3. Egyptianism (our fascist future); 4. 'Become who you are!'; 5. Hamlet and self-love; 6. 'To thine own self be true'; 7. Listening to ghosts; 8. Shakespeare's self; Part II. Shakespeare and Evil: 9. 'Old lad, I am thine own': authenticity and Titus Andronicus; 10. Evil and self-creation; 11. Libertarian Shakespeare: Mill, Bradley; 12. Shakespearean immoral individualism: Gide; 13. Strange Shakespeare: Symons and others; 14. Eliot's rejection of Shakespeare; 15. Shakespearean immoralism: Antony and Cleopatra; 16. Making oneself known: Montaigne and the Sonnets; Part III. Shakespeare and Self-Government: 17. Freedom and self-government: The Tempest; 18. Calibanism; Conclusion: Shakespeare's 'beauteous freedom'.