By Dennis Abrams
As Publishing Perspectives’ epic reading of the plays of William Shakespeare, The Play’s The Thing, moves toward the late romances written during the final stage of his career, we have one last tragic stop to make: Coriolanus.
Said to be Shakespeare’s purest example of classical tragedy, this story of the glittering yet ultimately catastrophic career of Cato Martius Coriolanus, a Roman general whose successes on the battlefield are matched only by his failings as a politician, is a fable with multiple readings. Is Coriolanus a tragic hero deserted by a fickle populace, or is he a villain whose arrogance could only mean dictatorship for the Roman republic?
Shakespeare’s most political drama (as well as one of his most experimental); a tragedy preferred by T.S. Eliot over Hamlet, a play admired by Brecht and Jan Kott (who said of it “History in Coriolanus has ceased to be demonic. It is only ironic and tragic. This is another reason why Coriolanus is a modern play,” it is a look at power, both that of the individual and of “the people.” It is a play that, as Marjorie Garber wrote, has been “appropriated, consistently over the years, as a commentary on a current political situation, and on issues of morality, ethics, social responsibility, and individual virtue in politics.”
It is a play very much of our time. We hope you’ll join us.
Get your copy of the play here.
Enter into the discussion here.