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Dec. 5, 2001
CONTACT: Patrick Murphy, 312-2616
OSWEGO -- Editing "The Tempest: Critical Essays" took SUNY Oswego's Dr. Patrick Murphy on a six-year journey through four centuries of critical and artistic responses to Shakespeare's magical play.
"I had to read all the 'Tempest' criticism that I could get my hands on," the associate professor of English said.
Published this year by Routledge, the book is the 13th volume in a series of Shakespeare criticism formerly published by Garland. Murphy got involved in the project first as a contributor to an earlier book in the series, on Shakespeare's poem "Venus and Adonis." The editor of that volume is also the editor of the series, Philip C. Kolin.
As editor of the book on "The Tempest," Murphy's assignment was fourfold: to select and reprint the most influential writings about the play from the 17th century to the present, to reprint reviews of its most significant stage productions across the centuries, to recruit several present-day scholars to write new essays on the play, and to write a substantial essay on how literary critics have interpreted and responded to the play over time.
"Each volume in the Shakespeare Criticism series strives to give readers a balanced, representative collection of the best that has been thought and said about a Shakespearean text," according to Kolin, the series editor.
The eight new essays that Murphy solicited for the book approach the play from a variety of recent critical perspectives. One takes account of ecology by examining the deforestation debate of Shakespeare's time. Another takes a feminist perspective, examining Miranda's role. Political context is the focus of an essay that considers productions from around the world.
"Everybody who comes to Prospero's island experiences it differently depending on who they are," Murphy said.
Priced at $99 in hardcover, "The Tempest: Critical Essays" is intended as a reference book for library collections, Murphy said. He added that he expects a paperback version to come out later, which might find use as a text for a Shakespeare course.
The book includes a photo from the 1997 SUNY Oswego production of "The Tempest" directed by Mark Cole, chair of the theatre department. Dr. Edward O'Shea of Oswego's English department contributed one of the new essays in the collection, "Modernist Versions of 'The Tempest': Auden, Woolf, Tippett."
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