A dynamic new study in literary and dramatic influence, Misreading Shakespeare defines and explores the relation between two modern plays—Edward Bond’s Lear and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead—and Shakespeare’s King Lear and Hamlet. While some see the modern plays as derivative, others claim that they are as original as the Shakespearean plays. The effort to define and explore this relationship is a challenge for critics and readers alike. Here, Wagdi Zeid, a playwright and professor of Shakespeare and drama, puts forth a theoretical perspective derived from W. Jackson Bate and Harold Bloom’s theories of influence.
Zeid’s study manages to defi ne and explore not only this intriguing and ambiguous relationship but the concept of originality itself. Furthermore, while theorists like Bate and Bloom are wholly concerned with just general statements and concepts, Misreading Shakespeare goes inside the dramatic texts themselves, and this practical aspect makes a big difference. Also, neither Bate nor Bloom has tried to apply his theory to dramatic texts.
Misreading Shakespeare offers readers both theory and practice. Misreading Shakespeare was written for an eclectic audience, including scholars of drama, theatre, Shakespeare, and literary theory and criticism; playwrights and other writers striving for originality; and theatrical artists and audiences alike.
Wagdi Zeid teaches Shakespeare and drama at UMass Lowell. He earned his PhD in theatre from City University of New York. Previously, he taught at American University and Cairo University in his native Egypt. During his tenure as Egypt’s cultural attaché in the United States and cultural counselor in Turkey, he conceived and developed the Cultural Middle Ground Program, dedicated to defining and exploring the noble ideas, meanings, values, and rules that could be shared by different cultures. He also served as director of Cairo University’s Center for Foreign Languages.