Shakespeare in America : an anthology from the revolution to now

by James Shapiro (Editor)

Hardcover, 2014




New York, NY : Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 2014.


This anthology traces the surprising story of how Americans made Shakespeare their own through a wide range of genres. The writers included range from the 1800s to the present day, and offer testimony to Shakespeare's profound and enduring influence.

Media reviews

The Library of America has chosen to commemorate [Shakespeare’s] 450th birthday by publishing Shakespeare in America: An Anthology from the Revolution to Now, a substantial compilation of essays, articles, reviews, poems, and letters whose title accurately describes its contents. Edited by James Shapiro, of Columbia University, the volume is no more free from flaw than any other book of its kind. In addition to an anodyne two-page preface by one William Jefferson Clinton, whose passion for the fine arts is not widely documented, it contains several pieces whose interest is mainly antiquarian, as well as some other pieces whose presence can be justified only by the desire to be fashionably “inclusive”. . . .

But for the most part, Shakespeare in America is a soundly chosen, thoroughly readable collection. Some of its contents, such as Cole Porter’s lyric for “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” are familiar. Others are real finds, among them a previously uncollected article in Saturday Review by the underrated film critic Hollis Alpert, writing about Joseph Mankiewicz’s 1953 screen version of Julius Caesar. Taken together, they go a long way toward answering the question implied in Shapiro’s pithy introduction: Why does Shakespeare continue to be more widely read than, say, Mark Twain or Robert Frost—or Arthur Miller? And of all the imaginative writers working in the English language, how did he become the only one in any genre to achieve something close to true ubiquity in a country whose citizens mostly prefer pop culture (or none at all) to high art?



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