The Masks of Anthony and Cleopatra
University of Delaware Press, 2006 - 605 pages
The Masks of Anthony and Cleopatra follows the pattern of Marvin Rosenberg's four earlier Masks books and offers a sensitive interpretation of the play based on extensive reading of both literary criticism and performance reviews.
In the middle of this play of clashing values and great conflicting personalities, the unhappy Octavia - sister of the ambitious Octavius Caesar and newly married to the heroic Mark Anthony - sums up the ambiguity of her divided world in her heart-wrenching lament:
Husband win, win brother, Prays and destroys the prayer; no midway 'Twixt these extremes at all.
In his analysis, Marvin Rosenberg sets out to steer a path between the "extremes" of Rome and Egypt and all they stand for: and to explore the relentless "to and back" confrontation of their different sets of values which leads ultimately to destruction.
What his study reveals is a world of endless oppositions and ambiguities. Reason (policy and expediency) is pitted against emotion (love and enduring relationship); the personal and private is balanced against the public and universal; the human is juxtaposed with the divine, the heroic set against the mundane and petty. Great complex characters oppose each other and are divided within themselves, both on the wide stage of the world and within their own personalities. The language is full of antithesis and oxymorons: and the most magnificent poetry is placed alongside the most simple and moving of expressions.
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Is Anthony and Cleopatra a Tragedy?
A Note on the Historical Cleopatra 69 BC30 BC
Critical and Theatrical Bibliographies
Tributes from Marvin Rosenbergs Colleagues and Friends
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Page 64 - I'll kneel down, And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live, And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues Talk of court news ; and we'll talk with them too, Who loses,- and who wins ; who's in, who's out ; And take...
Page 62 - Of the rang'd empire fall ! Here is my space. Kingdoms are clay: our dungy earth alike Feeds beast as man : the nobleness of life Is, to do thus; when such a mutual pair, And such a twain can do 't, in which I bind, On pain of punishment, the world to weet We stand up peerless.
Page 24 - Our women are defective, and so sized, You'd think they were some of the guard disguised ; For to speak truth, men act, that are between Forty and fifty, wenches of fifteen ; With bone so large, and nerve so incompliant, When you call Desdemona, enter giant.