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Shakespeare and Victorian Women, by Gail Marshall; pp. x + 207. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 50.00 [pounds sterling], $90.00.
Gail Marshall compresses a spacious subject into a small book: the response of Victorian women to Shakespeare. Her study rests on counterpoints. Female authors alternate with actresses; Shakespeare as Ruskinian bard of self-denying womanhood is countered by a Shakespeare who liberates women from Victorian constraints. Like Shakespeare, Marshall is most compelling in her irresolution. Her book refuses to choose between Shakespeare on the page or on stage, or between a Shakespeare who encases female readers and players in postures of self-denial, and a Shakespeare who gestures toward new selves and new lives.
There is so …