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Hydra’s Heads

Terence Hawkes, 22 February 1996

The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dŵr 
by R.R. Davies.
Oxford, 401 pp., £20, November 1995, 0 19 820508 2
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The Prince’s Choice: A Personal Selection from Shakespeare 
Hodder, 137 pp., £12.99, November 1995, 0 340 66039 2Show More
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... Princes of Wales have always been difficult to pin down. National heroes or terrorist thugs? Reasonable coves or domestic tyrants? Friends of the people or pals of Hitler? A sort of duplicity seems to go with the job. The exchange between Owain Glyn Dŵr and Hotspur in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part One – Glyn Dŵr: I can call spirits from the vasty deep ...
Issues of Death: Mortality and Identity in English Renaissance Tragedy 
by Michael Neill.
Oxford, 404 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 19 818386 0
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... Hamlet calls death the ‘undiscovered country’, but perhaps the deftness of that description masks a fatal insouciance. True, it isn’t really possible for us to ‘discover’ extinction in the sense of gaining actual experience of the phenomenon. But, as Michael Neill points out, human beings do imagine dying and in the process they inevitably invent a notion of death capable of matching their presuppositions ...

Making = Taking

Terence Hawkes, 31 July 1997

The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles 
by Hillel Schwartz.
Zone, 565 pp., £22.50, January 1997, 0 942299 35 3
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... By 1945, a quarter of the aeroplanes visible on Japanese military airfields were dummies. Despite a Goon Show suggestion to the contrary, the Allied air forces did not respond by dropping dummy bombs on them, although the energy of Hillel Schwartz’s argument almost persuades you that they might have done. We belong, his thesis runs, to a ‘culture of the copy’ in which an overt admiration for originality, authenticity, the unique, the one-off finds itself systematically undermined by a covert commitment to reproduction, duplication, the simulated and the subsequent ...

Lore and Ordure

Terence Hawkes: Jonson and digestion, 21 May 1998

The Fury of Men’s Gullets: Ben Jonson and the Digestive Canal 
by Bruce Thomas Boehrer.
Pennsylvania, 238 pp., £36.50, January 1998, 0 8122 3408 1
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... In 1616, the year in which Shakespeare died, Ben Jonson became the first English dramatist to publish a collected edition of his own plays. No doubt The Workes of Beniamin Jonson, a folio volume of more than a thousand pages, brought a sharp satisfaction to its author. The indignities of an earlier career as a bricklayer could scarcely have been more roundly redeemed ...

Putting on Some English

Terence Hawkes: Eagleton’s Rise, 7 February 2002

The Gatekeeper: A Memoir 
by Terry Eagleton.
Allen Lane, 178 pp., £9.99, January 2002, 0 7139 9590 4
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... In the United States, ‘English’ can mean ‘spin’: a deliberate turn put on a ball by striking it so that it swerves. It’s a subtle epithet, perhaps recording a canny colonial take on the larger distortions inseparable from imperial rule. But the truth is that as the English invented ‘Great Britain’ and then began the process of large-scale colonisation, they put quite a lot of English on ‘Englishness’ itself ...

The Dirty Dozens

Terence Hawkes, 21 July 1994

Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars 
by Henry Louis Gates.
Oxford, 199 pp., £15, October 1993, 0 19 507519 6
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The Alchemy of Race and Rights 
by Patricia Williams.
Virago, 263 pp., £7.99, September 1993, 1 85381 674 4
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... We haven’t been allowed to forget that 1994 has brought the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings. But their sound and fury masked another, no less fateful event whose anniversary we will probably not be asked to remember. As the Italian campaign of 1943 slowed to a painful crawl, the British found themselves more and more dependent on the Americans both to maintain it and to mount any effective invasion of Northern France in the following year ...

Dat’s de Truth

Terence Hawkes, 26 January 1995

Dancing to a Black Man’s Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin 
by Susan Curtis.
Missouri, 265 pp., £26.95, July 1994, 0 8262 0949 1
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King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era 
by Edward Berlin.
Oxford, 334 pp., £19.99, September 1994, 0 19 508739 9
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... In 1903, on Locust Street in St Louis, Missouri, two Americans found themselves engaged in complex and fateful negotiations with European culture. One was Scott Joplin, black ‘King of Ragtime’ and already the famous composer of ‘Maple Leaf Rag’, ‘The Entertainer’, ‘Peacherine Rag’ and ‘Elite Syncopations’. (The other can be caught up with later ...

Dr Blair, the Leavis of the North

Terence Hawkes: English in Scotland, 18 February 1999

The Scottish Invention of English Literature 
edited by Robert Crawford.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £35, July 1998, 0 521 59038 8
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... Until recently, the notion that the academic subject called ‘English’ had any sort of history would have seemed rather odd. Hadn’t it always just, well, existed? Surely, at his Stratford grammar school, the lad Shakespeare mugged up his Chaucer, if not the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads and Pride and Prejudice like the rest of us? How otherwise could he have written plays full of ‘characters’ who, as all O and A-level candidates know, endlessly, remorselessly, ‘develop’? Admittedly, Stephen Potter’s The Muse in Chains had offered to blow the gaff in 1937 ...

Bardbiz

Terence Hawkes, 22 February 1990

Rebuilding Shakespeare’s Globe 
by Andrew Gurr and John Orrell.
Weidenfeld, 197 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 297 79346 2
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Shakespeare and the Popular Voice 
by Annabel Patterson.
Blackwell, 195 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 631 16873 7
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Re-Inventing Shakespeare: A Cultural History from the Restoration to the Present 
by Gary Taylor.
Hogarth, 461 pp., £18, January 1990, 0 7012 0888 0
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Shakespeare’s America, America’s Shakespeare 
by Michael Bristol.
Routledge, 237 pp., £30, January 1990, 0 415 01538 3
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... Few things unhinge the British as much as doublet and hose. The merest hint unleashes golden fantasies of order and well-being, yoking together gentility and free-born earthiness within a deep dream of peace. And so, in 1989, when bulldozers in Southwark accidentally laid bare the foundations first of the Rose Theatre and then of the Globe, a furore began fit to astonish any passing Elizabethan ghost ...

Hawkesbiz

Frank Kermode, 11 February 1993

Meaning by Shakespeare 
by Terence Hawkes.
Routledge, 173 pp., £30, October 1992, 0 415 07450 9
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Shakespeare’s Professional Career 
by Peter Thomson.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £24.95, September 1992, 0 521 35128 6
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Shakespeare’s Mouldy Tales 
by Leah Scragg.
Longman, 201 pp., £24, October 1992, 0 582 07071 6
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Reading Shakespeare’s Characters 
by Christy Desmet.
Massachusetts, 215 pp., £22.50, December 1992, 0 87023 807 8
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Bit Parts in Shakespeare’s Plays 
by Molly Mahood.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £35, January 1993, 0 521 41612 4
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... Faithful readers of this journal will remember Terence Hawkes’s article ‘Bardbiz’, if only because it provoked, between March 1990 and September 1991, one of the most protracted scuffles in the history of correspondence columns. ‘Bardbiz’ is unrepentantly reprinted in this new book, omitting the subsequent complaints and endorsements but courteously listing their authors ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue, 19 July 1984

Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... of Leavis, Graham Hough and Cleanth Brooks on ‘Tears, Idle Tears’; and of Jonathan Culler and Terence Hawkes on William Carlos Williams’s ‘This is Just to Say’. Theories of Structuralism make Gribble particularly angry. He quotes a bit from Roland Barthes only to say he finds it impenetrable. A long paragraph from Culler’s Structuralist ...

Faculty at War

Tom Paulin, 17 June 1982

Re-Reading English 
edited by Peter Widdowson.
Methuen, 246 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 416 31150 4
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Against Criticism 
by Iain McGilchrist.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 571 11922 0
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... McCabe is a liberating figure while Christopher Ricks is a tyrannical élitist who upholds what Terence Hawkes terms ‘the prestigious realms of Culture’. This new way of thinking – or, perhaps more accurately, of feeling – is a phenomenon which anyone acquainted with less peaceful cultures than the English is bound to recognise. For me it ...

Shakespeares

David Norbrook, 18 July 1985

Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism 
edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield.
Manchester, 244 pp., £19.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1752 1
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Alternative Shakespeares 
edited by John Drakakis.
Methuen, 252 pp., £10.50, July 1985, 0 416 36850 6
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Shakespeare and Others 
by S. Schoenbaum.
Scolar, 285 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 85967 691 9
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Illustrations of the English Stage 1580-1642 
by R.A. Foakes.
Scolar, 180 pp., £35, February 1985, 0 85967 684 6
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1743 2
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... political repression may be dubious, it cannot be denied that it yields some interesting insights. Terence Hawkes, Christopher Norris and Jacqueline Rose show how the attempts of some influential Shakespeare critics to reduce the plays to coherent unified structures break down as the gaps and contradictions of the texts are carried over by an uncanny ...

Sod off, readers

John Sutherland, 26 September 1991

Rude Words: A Discursive History of the London Library 
by John Wells.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £17.50, September 1991, 0 333 47519 4
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Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English 
by Geoffrey Hughes.
Blackwell, 283 pp., £16.95, August 1991, 0 631 16593 2
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... of a lowering of tone. In a letter to the London Review of Books (21 November 1985), Professor Terence Hawkes curtly dismissed Professor Graham Hough with the words “piss off.” ’ According to Hughes, ‘Hawkes’s notoriously churlish performance combined cowardice with insult, since his whole letter ...

Diary

John Kerrigan: Lost Shakespeare, 6 February 1986

... ah, such pastoral broodings, never far from chthonic nationalism, are unprogressive. As Professor Terence ‘Piss off’ Hawkes has shown,* to identify Shakespeare with an essential England can lead to crude imperialism. Let me recommend his essay, though I note with concern its recurrent urino-genital images. By now it’s ...

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