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"What a piece of work is man!"
Arguably Shakespeare's finest and most important play, Hamlet is also one of the most misunderstood masterpieces of world literature. "To be or not to be", may be the question, but the answer has eluded many generations of critics. What does it mean "to be"? And is everything as it seems to be?
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ICE Study Guides are constructed to aid the reader of ICE classics to achieve a level of critical and literary appreciation befitting the works themselves.
Ideally suited for students themselves and as a guide for teachers, the ICE Study Guides serve as a complement to the treasures of critical appreciation already included in ICE titles.
These are the questions that are asked and answered in the introduction by Joseph Pearce and in the tradition-oriented critical essays by leading Shakespeare scholars that can be found in this groundbreaking edition of Shakespeare's masterpiece. To see or not to see, that is the question. The Ignatius Critical Edition of Hamlet will help many people truly see the play and its deepest meaning in a new and surprising light.
A look at the essays
There's more than angst to Hamlet's musings, argues Crystal Downing, who shows the play to be not merely about making decisions, but about the problem of interpreting people, situations, and, yes, plays in "Reading Hamlet".
The various levels of acting within the play, like the sinister theatrics of the Danish court, give us Anthony Esolen's "To Play or Not to Play" while Gene Fendt tackles the perennial problems of psychology and motivation in Hamlet with a Thomistic touch. [Read excerpt.]
Richard Harp makes the case for the defense in "The Nobility of Hamlet" while Andrew Moran explains Hamlet's darker side in light of the Reformation. Correspondence between Catholic and Protestant thought pops up again in Jim Scott Orrick's examination of "Providence in Hamlet", and once again in R. V. Young's consideration of Hamlet's ghost and treatment of the afterlife in "Residual Catholicism in Hamlet".
Joseph Pearce situates the reader with the introductory essay.
Books by Author
by last name, except for Wm. Shakespeare
Meet the Minds behind the Hamlet Edition
Joseph Pearce is Writer in Residence and Associate Professor of Literature at Ave Maria University. He is editor-in-chief of Sapientia Press, as well as co-editor of the Saint Austin Review (or StAR), an international review of Christian culture, literature, and ideas published in England (Family Publications) and the United States (Sapientia Press). He is the author of two books on Shakespeare and has also written biographies and critical studies of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, OscarWilde, G. K. Chesterton, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
With a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Crystal Downing has published on a wide variety of literary topics, from Shakespeare to the Brontës, and has won both national and international awards for her essays on film. Much of her recent scholarship focuses on the relationship between postmodernism and faith. Her first book, Writing Performances: The Stages of Dorothy L. Sayers (Palgrave), was granted the Barbara Reynolds Award for outstanding Sayers scholarship in 2009. Her second book, How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith (IVP Academic) is used as a textbook in college and seminary classrooms throughout North America.
Downing taught Shakespeare for many years at UCLA before taking a position at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, where she is professor of English and film studies. In addition to presentations at academic conferences, her work on Shakespeare has appeared in College Literature and Literature/Film Quarterly.
Anthony Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College. His work includes the Modern Library translations of Dante's Divine Comedy (Random House), Ironies of Faith: The Deep Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature (ISI Books), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery).
Gene Fendt has been teaching philosophy at the University of Nebraska, Kearney, for over twenty years. His publications include Is Hamlet a Christian Drama? An Essay on a Question in Kierkegaard (Marquette University Press) and Love Song for the Life of the Mind: An Essay on the Purpose of Comedy (Catholic University of America Press).
Richard Harp is chair of the Department of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is founding coeditor of the Ben Jonson Journal (Edinburgh University Press), which publishes articles and reviews on all respects of Renaissance literature. He has published The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson (Cambridge University Press, 2001) with Stanley Stewart, fellow co-founder of the journal. He has also published books (with Robert Evans) on Frank O'Connor and Brian Friel and articles on other aspects of Irish literature. His article on Father Martin D'Arcy's unpublished literary correspondence was the cover story in the Times Literary Supplement on December 11, 2009.
Andrew Moran is an assistant professor of English at the University of Dallas. Previously he had taught at UD's Rome Campus, Hillsdale College, and Ave Maria University. His dissertation is on The Winter's Tale, and his scholarship has focused on Shakespearean metadrama and representations of Reformation-era controversies.
Jim Scott Orrick
Jim Scott Orrick received his PhD from Ohio University and is Professor of Literature and Culture at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky. He and his wife, Carol, have six daughters.
R. V. Young
R. V. Young is Professor of English at North Carolina State University. He is co-founder of the John Donne Journal and was co-editor for 25 years. In 2008 he became the editor of Modern Age: A Quarterly Review. His bilingual edition of Justus Lipsius' Concerning Constancy is forthcoming from Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies. In addition to scholarly books and articles, he has also contributed to journals such as First Things, National Review, The Weekly Standard, the St. Austin Review, and Touchstone, of which he is a contributing editor.