Shakespeare's Tragedies Reviewed

Hugh Richmond

Hugh Macrae Richmond: Shakespeare’s Tragedies Reviewed. A Spectator’s Role (Studies in Shakespeare, 22). New York: Peter Lang, 2015. Pp. xiii + 207. $ 84.95.


In this learned and comprehensive study, Hugh Macrae Richmond, of  U.C. Berkeley, argues that “Shakespearean tragedies are governed primarily by what audiences welcome, not by respect for the criteria of authorities such as Sidney. Shakespeare rather followed Cinthio (1504-1573), Guarini (1538-1612), and Lope de Vega (1562 – 1635) than Aristotle." The Spanish and Italian dramatists advocated the superiority of the mixed, more positive category of tragedy with a happy ending. This reversal involves a drastic reviewing of scripts to recognize the obligatory positive elements of plot, characterization, and ideology exacted by many spectators, which have been underestimated. Applying this approach to Shakespeare may seem as fresh as daring. . . . All in all, Richmond’s claim to offer a new perspective on the Italian-English cultural dialogue during the Renaissance and its contribution to intellectual history provides fresh insights into an exciting field. Richmond leaves us with an impressive testimony of his admirably wide reading and expertise in early modern literature and culture.


Summary of a review of data from Shakespeare's Staging by Sonja Fielitz of Marburg University in Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 2. 2018


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