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Victor Shklovski. How David slew Goliath

An excerpt from On the Theory of Prose, a posthumous book by the famous Soviet critic Victor Shklovski (18931983). In his usual random manner Shklovski touches such different character types as Oedipus, the three sisters: Antigone, Cordelia, Anna Karenina, and many other characters, including Hamlet and Macbeth. The new always comes as a catastrophy. Lear's division of kingdom is puzzling, and it is just because of this that Cordelia rises in protest against it. Antigone, Cordelia, Anna Karenina demand not pity, but understanding. Shakespeare's plays are monumental because they embody that which has roots in folklore and epic poetry. Cordelia deserved the wreath of immortality as a creature of new time, and it was pecisely this that doomed her to the savage punishment of being hanged. When Lear took up her dead body he certified that she had been right.

lzrael Wertsman. On the Dramatic in Shakespeare

After reviewing the negative criticisms of Shaw and Tolstoi, and the appreciation of the Bard by Goethe and Hegel, the author cites Galsworthy and some moderns to show that there is an unsolved dilemma of the epic and purely dramatic elements in Shakespeare's plays. Citing the views of some Soviet and foreign scholars, the author concludes that it would be vain to force the dramatic method of Shakespeare into a rigid system. There is a permanent movement in Shakespeare from below upside, that is from sensual and intuitive vision to abstract ideas, and from top down from vast reading and philosophic contemplation to the reality.

Alexander Anikst. Shakespeare and the art movements of his time

Shakespeare the artist is to be conceived in connection with the artistic concepts of his time, the style of the High Renaissance, mannerism and baroque, which ail were in the field of vision of the writers and artists of England in the late Renaissance. After reviewing these basic concepts in modern scholarship, the author refuses to accept the uncritical transmission of the artistic concepts above-named to the work of Shakespeare. His art must be taken, first of all, in its specific dramatic and theatrical essence. This was determined by the English dramatic form, which is the basis of his art. An entity in itself it was more or less influenced by the artistic trends of the time.

Shakespeare's dramatic art underwent a definite evolution. The author accepts the traditional division into four periods, to give it a new meaning. The early period bears obvious signs of classical influence, both in tragedy and comedy. The period of happy comedies and Romeo and Juliet is marked by Renaissance romanticism. Although traces of mannerism appear in some plays of the 1590-ies, it was in the period of the great tragedies and dark comedies that the influence of mannerism was predominant. The Romances bring Shakespeare close to the baroque.

Tamara Zalite. The Function of the Word in Shakespeare's Poetry

The unity of a Shakespeare play is determined by its leit motives. In a comprehensive analysis of Love's Labour's Lost the authoress shows that the war of wits goes beyond the problems of language and style, being in fact a clash of different attitudes towards life.

Ivan Chekalov. The Problem of Leading Word-Images in Shakespeare

It took Shakespeare some time before he has achieved organic unity of word images and dramatic action. Richard II is analysed in detail to show the leit-motives of the play. Taking his cues from Russian students of verse, the author states that the leading imagery of a play is both a part of its polyphonic poetic structure and the pivot of dramatic action.

Algis Geniusas. The Ambivalence of Shakespeare's Imagery

An analysis of fundamental antinomies. The imagery of the plays shows the association between the rising and the setting sun and the basic stages of human life. The prominence of the sunset/sunrise antinomy in world mythologies finds its analogy in Shakespeare's works. This applies also to the suneye soul association. Shakespeare's correlative imagery of sunrise / sunset is connected with the rise and fall of his heroes. Parallels between the seasonal cycle of the sun and Shakespeare's imagery of the cardinal stages of human life are cited. The author dwells also upon the imagery of planting, growth and harvest and the archtypal tomb / womb ambivalence.

Boris Knyazevsky. Alliteration in Shakespeare's Poetry

There is an infinite variety of the forms of alliteration both in its structural and semantic relations in the plays. Far from being a formal and artful aid, it is closely connected with the meaning of the contents and helps to better express the dramatists ideas or feelings, creating at the same time a peculiar emotional background. Shakespeare's use of alliteration was varied in the different periods of his art.

Irina Taits. Plot and Conflict in Shakespeare's Comedies, the Problem of Tradition and Innovation

Despite the obvious dependence of Shakespeare on his sources, the essence of his comedies is determined by his treatment of traditional conflicts in the spirit of the Renaissance humanism. Important are the various uses of the concept of Time. It is not yet out of joint, but there are in the comedies some premonitions of it, greed and ambition. But they do not affect strongly the main tenor of the comedies, the discovery of the world and of self. Time here is infused by the carnival spirit, manifesting itself in the playfulness of the characters.

Alexander Parfenov. Hamlet's Tragedy

Hamlet is a courageous man, but a man of reason, as well. His quick and free thought raises him above all others, but is, at the same time, the source of his melancholy, inactivity, and finally of his death. A man of the late Renaissance he is out of tune with the reality of his time. Drawing a parallel between Hamlet and the Faust of the folk book, the author shows that the first biographer of Faust has condemned his free reason, while Shakespeare admires Hamlet's intellect. But under certain conditions, namely those of the late Renaissance, reason becomes a demonic power leading to destruction. The essence of Hamlet's tragedy is that reason does not give sufficient knowledge and therefore plays a treacherous role in the fate of a marvelous man.

Mark Sokoliansky. The Artistic Unity of Othello

The first act of Othello stands apart of the rest of the tragedy; it is a small play in itself, where for the first time the theme Othello and Venice is declared. But in the following action it disappears giving way to the personal tragedy of the hero. It reappears to some extent in act five, but again it is not resolved. There two worlds in the tragedy, that of Venice with its inner contradictions (Brabantio and the Duke) and the opposition of natives and foreigners; it is followed by the tragedy of deceived confidence. Finally there is again the opposition of Othello and Venice. The disunity of the plot is only seeming. There is a character, who unites all the threads of action, Jago. He begins by treachery and follows his line to the end. But unity is achieved not only through the evil doings of the leutenant. While the middle acts show the downfall of the hero, it is in act one that we first see him as a Noble Moor. The nobility of his nature is reaffirmed by the punishment he inflicts upon himself.

Nina Diakonova. Style in the Speeches of Lear

Before he meets the opposition of Cordelia and Kent Lear's speeches are majestical, commanding. Cordelia's Nothing turns his speech to invocations revealing his rage. 1,4 contains the same movement from the sense of his majesty to inability to match someone else's will, this time evil will. Step by step the changes in Lear's utterances reveal the changing moods of the old king, his irony, wrath, despair and other states of his mind. The complexity of his feelings is also reflected in the use of concrete and abstract notions. The scenes of his madness are characterized by inconsistencies and contradictions of his statements. Rhetorical devices, metaphors in particular, are also analysed to stress the combination of naturalness and artificiality in Lear's apeeches.

Igor Ratsky. Shakespeare's Cymbeline

This is a chapter from a comprehensive study of the Romances by the late scholar, who died in 1980 at the age of 47. Other parts of his work have appeared in different Russian publications, including Shakespeare Readings for the previous years.

Ratsky views the Romances as tragicomedies and applies the same criteria of this genre to Cymbeline. Typical of his analysis is the description of IV, 2, when Imogen bewails her husband while in fact she sees the beheaded corpse of Cloten. Our attitude towards her is ambivalent, the compassion for Imogen is not fulhearted, because we know what she does not know. Imogen's grief is great, however the spectator cannot but see the comic side of the situation. The tragic feelings of the heroine mix with the sense of comedy in the minds of the spectators, giving the scene a tragicomic colouring.

Whith III, 3 a new theme begins, that of nature vs. civilization. The two plots have a connecting link. Both Imogen and Belarius are victims of calumny. The author shows the difference between the pastoralism of the early comedies and that of Cymbeline. Finally, attention is given to the historical theme, which is seen as a parallel to the personal and family conflicts of the play. The disrupted harmony of individual fates is correlated to the Britain Rome theme. Collision and open strife end in a new and final harmony, which is typical of all the Romances of Shakespeare.

Ilya Gililov. For Whom the Bell Has Tolled

No solution has been found so far for the problems of The Phoenix and the Turtle and for Robert Chester's volume of poetry. Even the date of the publication is doubtful, because the book was not entered in the Stationers Register, while the title pages of the three extant copies have been dated by 1601 and 1611, although their texts are absolutely identical.

The present author has made a thorough scrutiny of the extant copies, of which he had microfilms kindly sent by the British Library and the Folger Library. The conclusion is that the dating was a deliberate mystification. The three copies were printed not earlier than the second half of 1612. The prototypes of the Turtle and his shefriend were the Early of Rutland and Elizabeth Sidney, an unusual couple connected by the ties of fictitious marriage and platonic love. Their almost simultaneous deaths were mourned by Shakespeare, Jonson, Chapman and Marston. While offering a solution of the myterious poem, the essay opens the ways for solving some other literary puzzles of the age of Shakespeare, Jonson's Sad Shepherd and Donne's Canonization.

Elena Donskaya. Some Observations of the Language and Style of The Sonnets

The results of this linguistic and stylistic study are summarized in the table on p. ...which is in English. 2650 lexical units have been selected as used in 8 550 cases in the text of the Sonnets. The words have been classified according to Roget's Dictionary. The Russian symbols used in the table are: lexical units, the frequency of uses in the text.

The results of this analysis are then used to elucidate the meaning of the Sonnets looked at in the context of the age, its literary trends, the poets's personal experience etc. The traditional theme of love is overshadowed in The Sonnets by philosophical, moral and aesthetic ideas and political attitudes of Shakespeare.

Inna Levidova and Yuri Fridshtein. William Shakespeare. A Bibliography of Russian translations and Shakespeare Criticism in Russian for 19761980