Bottom: On Shakespeare
Written between 1947 and 1960 and first published in 1963, the prose work in the first of these two volumes reflects Louis Zukofsky's ongoing obsession with Shakespeare—whose plays he had first seen performed in Yiddish—and is central to understanding Zukofsky's work. Tracing the themes of knowledge, love and physical vision (“the eyes have it”) through both Shakespeare’s plays and the poetry, Bottom: On Shakespeare is more than a compendious act of homage by one poet to another. In effect, it lays out Zukofsky's poetics and theory of knowledge on a grand scale, tracing his themes through the whole of Western culture, from the Classical Greeks through William Carlos Williams.
The second volume of Bottom: On Shakespeare consists of Celia Thaew Zukofsky's spare operatic setting of Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre, a play in which Zukofsky saw Shakespeare rewriting the classic plots and tropes of the Odyssey. The Wesleyan edition features a new foreword by Bob Perelman.
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