FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 13 left in stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Shakespeare and the Godde... has been added to your Basket
+ £2.80 UK delivery
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Ships from the UK. Former Library books. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Your purchase also supports literacy charities.
Trade in your item
Get a £8.25
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being Hardcover – 13 Apr 1992


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
£50.00
£46.07 £33.33
£50.00 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 13 left in stock. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being + William Shakespeare: Selected by Ted Hughes (Poet to Poet: An Essential Choice of Classic Verse)
Price For Both: £54.99

Buy the selected items together


Free One-Day Delivery for six months with Amazon Student


Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (13 April 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571166040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571166046
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.4 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 505,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ted Hughes (1930-1998) was born in Yorkshire. His first book, The Hawk in the Rain, was published in 1957 by Faber and Faber and was followed by many volumes of poetry and prose for adults and children. He received the Whitbread Book of the Year for two consecutive years for his last published collections of poetry, Tales from Ovid (1997) and Birthday Letters (1998). He was Poet Laureate from 1984, and in 1998 he was appointed to the Order of Merit.

Product Description

About the Author

Ted Hughes (1930-1998) was born in Yorkshire. His first book, The Hawk in the Rain, was published in 1957 by Faber & Faber and was followed by many volumes of poetry and prose for adults and children. He received the Whitbread Book of the Year for two consecutive years for his last published collections of poetry, Tales from Ovid (1997) and Birthday Letters (1998). He was Poet Laureate from 1984, and in 1998 he was appointed to the Order of Merit.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
3
4 star
1
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 4 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. A. Smith on 30 May 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ted Hughes told Andrew Motion, not long before he died, that writing this book had shortened his life - all that prose was killing him. It's certainly hefty, dense, and the unwieldy central premise - that Shakespeare developed certain mythical themes and variations throughout the canon - owes more to Hughes' imagination than Shakespeare's. This is why it was criticised on release, criticism which hurt Hughes. But taken on its own eccentric terms, its a hell of a book, shot through with great insights into the plays and the personality behind them. Hughes on Shakespeare's poetry is worth the price alone. Give it a go.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Duncan Mason on 27 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
Ted's book might best be compared to Robert Graves' book The White Goddess in terms of its scope and intent; although I am sure Ted might take exception to the analogy. It is a rich book filled with what I would call poetic as well as literary insights (like Graves' work). The section where Hughes breaks down Shakespeare's language showing how within each contrasting set of phrases he was communicating both to the rabble on the floor and the intellectuals in the gods is stunning. A worthwhile read for anyone who loves to spend time at the juncture between myth, literature and poetry. Ted has achieved something remarkable.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By vidyakaya on 23 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
bonkers and thrilling and entirely wonderful
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By georges on 14 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is mind-blowing
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
The Vision behind the Vision 27 May 2000
By Brenton Boswell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What makes a genius tick? What made Shakespeare tick? If Shakespeare's vision seems inexhaustible, all-encompassing, transcendental - one might say 'mythic' - then how did he manage it? Where did that vision come from? And where, while we're at it, did the *poetry* come from?
Many of the world's finest literary minds over the last 400 years have been drawn to such questions, and more than a few have made valuable strides towards the answers. But even so, you would search long and hard for a book to equal Ted Hughes' "Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being" - if it's those big questions that you're interested in.
Whilst no brief summary can really do this book justice, here's a rough attempt anyway...
1. For the last fifteen plays of his career (i.e. throughout his artistic maturity), Shakespeare consistently employed the same basic prototype plot structure - what Hughes calls his "Tragic Equation". That plot structure was derived from the inspired fusion of the plots of Shakespeare's two long narrative poems, "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape of Lucrece". Hughes demonstrates (with staggering thoroughness) that behind every major male protagonist (Troilus, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Lear etc.) is the god Adonis, and behind every female figure (Cressida, Gertrude/Ophelia, Desdemona, Lady Macbeth, Cordelia etc.) is the goddess Venus - or, more accurately, the Goddess of Complete Being.
This alone would make the book an astounding achievement of literary detective work. But there is much more to it than that...
2. By combining the two myths in this way, Shakespeare hit upon an unfailing source of dramatic (and poetic) power. Indeed, what he tapped into was virtually the power source of all human feeling itself. To understand this, think about myth and religion and what they seem to be, VIZ, the expression of our profoundest primal instincts, of our deepest psycho-biological mysteries. They are, if you like, the DNA code of our very souls. (Or to put it less ridiculously, they are the living artistic expression of everything we think and feel at our core.) Apollo, Dionysus, Aphrodite, Isis, Osiris, Horus, Jehovah, Allah, Christ, Mary, Krishna, Shiva - and countless others from around the planet - these gods (and their experiences and sufferings) embody our brightest truths and our darkest mysteries. Their stories are the stories of our collective consciousness.
3. This explains why Hamlet, Macbeth and Lear somehow feel like gods to us too: Shakespeare was quite deliberately forcing them to live out the mythic destiny of Adonis himself. Adonis is one of the oldest prototypes of the worldwide phenomenon of the sacrificed god; as such, he is a near relative of Osiris, Dionysus, Christ, and countless others - just as Venus/Lucrece is a first cousin of Isis, Demeter, the Virgin Mary, etc.
4. Moreover, Shakespeare's *mythic intuition* was somehow greater than other writers before or since. In other words, he discovered all the mythic possibilities of these two key stories - what exactly they were expressing. (Without going into *what* they do express, which is a key theme of Hughes' book, all I shall say here is that they are born of very deeply rooted impulses in all of us, that their key cultural manifestations are what Hughes terms "the Great Goddess and the Sacrificed God", and that they express, if you like, humanity's *tragic dilemma*.)
5. Once he discovered this mythic key to his imagination (i.e. the two poems explosively combined), Shakespeare could then dedicate his entire mature career to exploring the corridors it unlocked. He harnessed all the various potentialities of those deeply rooted ancient stories for his own Elizabethan dramas. To use a rather violent analogy, his 'Tragic Equation' was a kind of dramatist's atomic bomb: once he had discovered the essential nuclear reaction, he could go on finding new ways of inducing it, ways of making the explosion bigger or smaller, and even finally - in "The Tempest" - how to prevent the explosion from occurring at all. He spent twelve years pursuing this obsession, and the results speak for themselves.
6. Indeed, Hughes goes on to show that it's always at the same particular moment in each play (i.e. when "Venus and Adonis" metamorphoses into "The Rape of Lucrece" (and in the late plays, back again)) that Shakespeare's poetry takes off to ever-greater heights. In other words, Hughes argues that by touching the primal mythic sources of the human imagination (where the two myths collide), Shakespeare gains direct access to his Muse. He touches the vision itself, and records its feel in his poetry.
"Shakespeare and The Goddess of Complete Being" is a work that forces itself upon your imagination and stays there. It is not, however, for the skim reader. It requires dedicated concentration and some considerable patience for complex, detailed argument. It also needs a fairly healthy knowledge of up to a dozen or so of the mature plays - you might need to get out your edition of the Complete Works and start revising.
Yet for all that, this book is a real joy to read. Its luminous prose could only come from a poet of Hughes' own calibre; its massive scope (compassing everything from the shamanic initiation dream of a Siberian Goldi leader to Occult Neoplatonism in Renaissance Europe) is endlessly exciting and surprising; and its ear for Shakespeare's poetry and eye for his mythological allusion is virtually unparalleled.
But it's really for the insights into the nature of genius that this book is truly unforgettable. By the time you've reached "Our revels now are ended..." (at the end of the long dramatic sequence), Hughes has shown you exactly *how* Shakespeare keeps managing to follow his Muse up to ever more dizzying heights - almost as if you're a passenger on the journey with him. And *that*, for a 'mere' work of literary criticism, is surely astonishing.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Shakespeare: Elizabethan shaman of poetic lore? 14 July 2010
By Duncan Mason - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A rich, rewarding book for anyone who takes the time and is able to follow Mr. Hughes exhaustively argued thesis. In some ways it is a bookend to Robert Graves "White Goddess" and those who enjoyed the one will enjoy the other. Ted Hughes mines very deep veins of poetic ore, his analysis of the thematic connections between the plays are fascinating, and whether or not we accept that Shakespeare was consciously organizing his magnum opus in the way Hughes expounds or not (it may have all been subconscious) this book reminds us once again of the enormous range of Shakespeare's poetic gifts. It is a brilliant book and just as the White Goddess has migrated from the furthest reaches of the forest of prose to the campfires of many a modern poet and writer so Hughes' book will stand the test of time and be returned to again and again. It is a powerful work and demands serious study. The sections where Ted Hughes discusses Shakespeare's "bifurcated language" and his discussion of the mythological underpinnings of the masque in The Tempest are worth the price of the book alone. Take time over this one - there is much to be savoured.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Consorts of meaning 1 Dec. 2013
By corn girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am going slowly, slowly through this book as it is so intense, scholarly, and brilliant. And when I get to the end of a section, I think I need to go back and read it again. But so highly worthwhile. This is certainly a book on Shakespeare and the Goddess but it is also a history of the search for understanding in the Western tradition, its sources, and its various manifestations. Ted Hughes....really, how is it that one person can know so much?!
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know


Feedback