About the Book“From his admirable grasp of both primary and secondary sources, Jonathan Samuel Shaw has produced a well organized work on Shakespeare’s History plays which throws new lights on several problems of Elizabethan Literature. Furthermore, the author… makes a highly commendable and convincing attempt to consider these plays in the light of the Indian concept of rasas and types of characters which should interest and stimulate scholars both in India and overseas.”
William Robertson Professor of History University of Edinburgh, Scotland
Few subjects, if any, have accumulated so vast and astonishing a body of scholarship as the study of Shakespeare’s plays. The plays written by him about the English Kings were christened as histories, but the modern approach to Shakespeare relates the plays to Elizabethan concepts of degree and order, and to the politics of time. However, the works of Shakespeare transcend time and space and as such can be studied in the light of Indian dramaturgy.
The book is a refreshingly fresh analytical study of the six uncontroversial ‘Histories’ of Shakespeare—Richard III, King John, Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. The study takes into account the Tudor Historiography also, which is reflected in the works of the popular historians of the age, viz. Edward Hall, Raphael Holinshed, Polydore Vergil, Jean Froissart, etc. It also surveys in brief the divergent political cross-currents during the times, taking specially into consideration the Homilies and the Ecclesiastical Polity of the late Medieval Age and the Renaissance. The various source materials of Shakespeare’s Histories are thus placed in the right perspective.
This forms the backdrop milieu against which the Histories of Shakespeare are studied empathetically with special reference to the omissions and commissions effected by Shakespeare. An attempt has been made to keep the approach unbiased and objective as far as possible. Breaking new ground, the Indian theories of rasa and Sanskrit dramaturgy have also been applied to the plays.
The analysis of the works leads to the conclusion that despite various topical constrains and prejudices, Shakespeare manages to remain unaffected as an artist. By and large remaining faithful to the basic contours of history, he succeeds in recreating the past with an essentially and eternally valid moral vision of life, which is not dissimilar to the vision witnessed in his other works.
The book will prove immensely useful to the students and teachers of English literature, Shakespearean studies and researchers in these fields.About the Author/sJonathan S. Shaw has been an eminent teacher of English literature. During his long career as a teacher he has taught with brilliance at a number of premier institutions like the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla; Central Govt.’s College of Arts and Science, Daman; and Bhagalpur University. He also taught at Aden University as an ITEC expert on Govt. of India deputation. More recently he served as Professor of English at a number of universities in the Middle-East. During the academic session 2006, Sann’a University of the Republic of Yemen invited him to an International Conference on the teaching of language through literature.
As a Shakespeare scholar, Shaw has participated in a number of national seminars. Besides, he has the honour of representing the Anglican educationists of North India at the Triennial International of Christian Colleges at Canterbury and York in the U.K. during 2005.
In addition, Jonathan S. Shaw has served St. Columba’s College, Hazaribagh as Principal, and Bhagalpur University as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, with distinction.