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The Quality of Mercy: Reflections on Shakespeare [Hardcover]

Peter Brook
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

23 April 2013
Unique insights on England's greatest dramatist from one of the world's most influential and admired theatre directors.

In this collection of essays and speeches, Peter Brook debates such questions as who was the man who wrote Shakespeare's plays, why Shakespeare is never out of date, how to approach Shakespeare's verse and why actors should forget Shakespeare when performing his plays. He also revisits some of the plays which he has directed with notable brilliance, such as King Lear, Titus Andronicus and, of course, A Midsummer Night's Dream. These nine articles most of them published here for the first time together offer an illuminating and provocative insight into a great director's relationship with our greatest playwright

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The Quality of Mercy: Reflections on Shakespeare + Evoking (and Forgetting!) Shakespeare + The Empty Space (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Nick Hern Books; 1st. Edition edition (23 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184842261X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848422612
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


An exquisite little volume... This short, modest and brilliant book does more than many more grandiose tomes to renew the reader's fascination with the plays, and the theatre-goer's wonder at the extraordinary and diverse sensations locked up inside the First Folio. It should be required reading at all universities and drama clubs. -- Guardian

Should be required reading for any aspiring young directors and actors but also all serious theatregoers... the writing is a model of clarity, the ideas challenging but sensible... it should be on every reader's bookshelf. --British Theatre Guide

Each page you turn is a new delight. And all written is such an unpretentious, gentle, often amusing style. A joy. --the public reviews

An invaluable gift from the greatest Shakespeare director of our time, one whose productions have irrevocably changed how we understand plays as disparate as Measure for Measure, King Lear, Titus Andronicus, and A Midsummer Night's Dream (all of which, and others, are explored here). Brook's genius, modesty, and brilliance shine through on every page. --James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

About the Author

PETER BROOK is one of the most famous theatre directors in the world today. Lauded for his 1964 Marat/Sade and his 1970 A Midsummer Night's Dream, both for the RSC, he now lives and works in Paris producing a series of events which push at the boundaries of theatre, such as The Mahabharata in 1985. His most recent UK production was The Suit seen at the Young Vic in 2012. His books, especially The Empty Space (1968) and The Shifting Point (1987), have sold thousands of copies worldwide

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant. 21 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
as always from Brook a deeply insightful and profound musings, free from academic intellectualism or any tedious literary analysis. nails the many 'it was Shakespeare who wrote them' nonsenses with humorous aplomb.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book 13 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
very good conditions, very good quality publication, quick delivery, great book. Brook's language is like poetry: simple and very deep
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential 15 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those who love Shakespeare and believe in the vital force underpinning his works, this is an essential book... the connection between the text and the stage and the life between the lines is utterly moving and illuminating...
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Much as expected but better 20 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
How could one of our greatest theate directors put his thout about Shakesdpeare onto paper and be less than brilliant? Incisive, relveatory; a joy to read and own.
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3 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A work of Genius but not biography 16 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Peter Brook in the first essay "Alas Poor Yorick" makes the absolutely central point in reviewing the authorship question, that the author of a brand new play must be hands-on at rehearsals to adapt and re-write there and then, make sure the cast are understanding and much more: which is why the anti-Stratfordian 'front man' conspiracy theories are all nonsense. He is absolutely correct. But then he writes (page 10):"this fundamental aspect has been totally overlooked" by those who reject the Stratfordian as author.
Oh no, it has not: in my tenure as secretary of the De Vere Society, I have without being contradicted been pointing out for nearly ten years that there is enough evidence to show that Edward de Vere was just that hands-on actor and producer. My original essay appeared in the Society Newsletter for January 2004 (now on the Society's website - archives): it has been expanded and repeated in the collection of essays entitled Great Oxford (2004) and now in The Earl of Oxford and the 'Making' of Shakespeare: The Literary Life of the Earl of Oxford in Context (2012) where there are thirteen pages of closely argued text and endnotes to present the case. Incidentally Peter Brook does not mention the other side of the coin: that William Shakespeare was a figure of derision to the theatrical community, as shown by the caricatures in Jonson's Every Man Out of His Humour 1599, and his acting viciously sent up in Act IV scene 1.
It is not Peter Brook's fault that he does not know the Oxfordian case: the problem is that 'orthodox' commentators prefer to erect straw men arguments like conspiracy theories rather than actually reading or finding out what Oxfordians (including Geilgud - wrongly claimed in the essay a s 'orthodox') actually believe.
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