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What makes Shakespeare great? Why do we still read and perform his works? In this deft and witty introduction, David Bevington argues that Shakespeare continues to live among us today because his representations of the human condition are believable, endearing, and touchingly human. The book is structured around Shakespeare's immortalizing of the arc of human life from infancy and childhood to adulthood, advancing age, and eventual death, as set out by Jaques in the 'Seven Ages of Man' speech from As You Like It. For this extended second edition, the author has added more material on fathers and sons, the perils of courtship, the circumstances of Shakespeare's own life, the performance history of his plays on stage and on screen, his delicate representation of gender relations, and more. In a new final chapter on Shakespeare Today, he looks at the remarkable diversity of interpretations in modern criticism and performance of Shakespeare as a key to his 'infinite variety', and his ability to adapt to a changing world.
David Bevington is the Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. His numerous publications include The Bantam Shakespeare, in 29 paperback volumes (1988, new edition forthcoming), and The Complete Works of Shakespeare (fifth edition, 2003), as well as the Oxford Shakespeare edition of Henry IV Part I (1987), the New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of Antony and Cleopatra (second edition, 2005), and the Arden Shakespeare edition of Troilus and Cressida (1998). He is the senior editor of the Revels Student Editions, and is a senior editor of the Revels Plays and of the forthcoming Cambridge edition of the works of Ben Jonson. He is also general editor of English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology (2002).