Shakespeare And The Problem Of Meaning Written By Norman Rabkin

2003 Words Dec 1st, 2016 9 Pages
For my book review I read the book Shakespeare And The Problem Of Meaning written by Norman Rabkin. This book was published in 1981 by the University of Chicago Press. In this book Rabkin looks at several Shakespeare plays including The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, and The Tempest as well as many others. Rabkin uses these to support his argument that the plays do mean something more than can be conveyed by description alone. He shows that there are many complex paradoxical elements present in Shakespeare’s work. The first chapter is entitled “Meaning and The Merchant of Venice”. In this chapter Rabkin begins by explaining his perception of the changing climate for literary critics. He claims that “Only yesterday it was widely assumed that the critic’s job was to expound the meaning of literary works. Today, under an extraordinarily swift and many fronted attack, that consensus is in ruins”. Many of the newer critics felt their job was different such as Jaques Derrida who felt than language and art are so intractably self-reflexive that they are “incapable of analyzable significance”. Harold Bloom was of the opinion that all reading was misunderstood as our interpretation of the words would be tainted by ourselves. Rabkin believes these views make it hopeless to apply meaning to poems or plays.
He goes on to talk about an analysis by Richard Levin which questions the validity of new interpretations of English Renaissance drama. He talks briefly about the three main groups…

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