By Dennis Abrams
Join us as Publishing Perspectives’ exploration of the complete plays of William Shakespeare, “The Play’s The Thing,” begins its reading of The Life and Death of King John. A play better known by scholars than by Virginia Woolf’s “common reader,” seldom read, rarely performed. And yet, of all the history plays, despite being set furthest in the past, it is perhaps the most modern in sensibility, the one closest to our time. A play in which politics is depicted as cynical, hard-edged, and ultimately corrosive. A play that from our perspective seems to be one of Shakespeare’s boldest experiments in making drama out of history.
And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also the play in which Shakespeare, according to Harold Bloom, begins his “invention of the human” in the character of the Bastard, Faulconbridge. “He is the first character in Shakespeare,” Bloom says, “who fully can charm and arouse us, particularly because no one before in a Shakespearean play is so persuasive a representation of a person…With Faulconbridge the Bastard, Shakespeare’s own world begins, and that originality, difficult as it is now to isolate, has become our norm for representation of fictive personages.”
We hope you will join us. It should be an eye-opening experience.