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The essays in this collection gently subvert traditional ideas. The very title 'Shakespearian Tragedy', while reflecting conventional usage, disguises considerable doubts. 'There is no such thing as Shakespearian Tragedy, Kenneth Muir has said, 'there are only Shakespearian tragedies'. The endeavour to define the common priorities of Shakespeare's tragedies has had a long life and persists still but often leads to reductive and schematic approaches to the plays, distorting their individual qualities for the sake of uniformity. The contributors to this volume by contrast have not presupposed that the plays share the same tragic vision or that they conform with one mode that is uniquely Shakespearian.The main interpretive emphasis is upon the variety of modes through which the tragedies communicate their meanings, the formal conventions and structural devices which were part of the stock in trade of the Elizabethan dramatist. The essays explore the versatility and inventiveness with which Shakespeare used these expressive sources in different plays, showing that such an interest in the art of the playwright is not merely technical but directly related to a critical understanding of the plays. The volume as a whole offers some fresh perspectives on the tragedies and on the interrelations between them.
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