How does a truly disastrous leader – a sociopath, a demagogue, a tyrant – come to power?
How, and why, does a tyrant hold on to power?
And what goes on in the hidden recesses of the tyrant's soul?
For help in understanding our most urgent contemporary dilemmas, William Shakespeare has no peer.
As an ageing, tenacious Elizabeth I clung to power, a talented playwright probed the social and psychological roots and the twisted consequences of tyranny. What he discovered in his characters remains remarkably relevant today. With uncanny insight, he shone a spotlight on the infantile psychology and unquenchable narcissistic appetites of demagogues and imagined how they might be stopped.
In Tyrant, Stephen Greenblatt examines the themes of power and tyranny in some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays -- from the dominating figures of Richard III, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Coriolanus to the subtle tyranny found in Measure for Measure and The Winter's Tale.
Tyrant is a highly relevant exploration of Shakespeare’s work that sheds new light on the workings of power.
Selected as a book of the year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times
Humans cannot live without stories. But one story has proved itself the most durable and hauntingly real of all time.
The mythic tale of Adam and Eve has shaped conceptions of human origins and destiny for centuries. Stemming from a few verses in an ancient book, it became not just the foundation of three major world faiths, but has evolved through art, philosophy and science to serve as the mirror in which we seem to glimpse the whole, long history of our fears and desires.
What is it about Adam and Eve’s story that fascinates us? What does it tell us about how our species lives, dies, works or has sex?
In a quest that begins at the dawn of time, Stephen Greenblatt takes us from ancient Babylonia to the forests of east Africa. We meet evolutionary biologists and fossilised ancestors; we grapple with morality and marriage in Milton’s Paradise Lost; and we decide if the Fall is the unvarnished truth or fictional allegory.
Ultimately, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve allows us a new understanding of ourselves.
Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World is widely recognised to be the fullest and most brilliant account ever written of Shakespeare's life, his work and his age.
Shakespeare was a man of his time, constantly engaging with his audience's deepest desires and fears, and by reconnecting with this historic reality we are able to experience the true character of the playwright himself. Greenblatt traces Shakespeare's unfolding imaginative generosity - his ability to inhabit others, to confer upon them his own strength of spirit, to make them truly live as independent beings as no other artist has ever done.
Digging deep into the vital links between the playwright and his world, Will in the World provides the fullest account ever written of the living, breathing man behind the masterpieces.
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2012
Almost six hundred years ago, a short, genial man took a very old manuscript off a library shelf. With excitement, he saw what he had discovered and ordered it copied. The book was a miraculously surviving copy of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things by Lucretius and it changed the course of history.
He found a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas – that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion. These ideas fuelled the Renaissance, inspiring Botticelli, shaping the thoughts of Montaigne, Darwin and Einstein.
An innovative work of history by one of the world’s most celebrated scholars and a thrilling story of discovery, The Swerve details how one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, made possible the world as we know it.
Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Nonfiction
Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of twelve books, including The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, which won the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, as well as the New York Times bestseller Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare and the classic university text Renaissance Self-Fashioning.
He is General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and of The Norton Shakespeare, and has edited seven collections of literary criticism.