Main content

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas behind Shakespeare's comedy with its intertwining plots of royal marriage, crossed lovers, quarreling fairies and rude mechanicals

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Shakespeare's most popular works, written c1595 in the last years of Elizabeth I. It is a comedy of love and desire and their many complications as well as their simplicity, and a reflection on society's expectations and limits. It is also a quiet critique of Elizabeth and her vulnerability and on the politics of the time, and an exploration of the power of imagination.

With

Helen Hackett
Professor of English Literature and Leverhulme Research Fellow at University College London

Tom Healy
Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Sussex

and

Alison Findlay
Professor of Renaissance Drama at Lancaster University and Chair of the British Shakespeare Association

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

55 minutes

Last on

Thursday 21:30

LINKS AND FURTHER READING

Helen Hackett at University College London

Tom Healy at the University of Sussex

Alison Findlay at Lancaster University

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Wikipedia

 

READING LIST:

Jonathan Bate, Shakespeare and Ovid (Oxford University Press, 1993)

Dympna Callaghan (ed.),  A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare (Blackwell, 2016), especially ‘The Great Indian Vanishing Trick: Colonialism, Property, and the Family in A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by Ania Loomba

Richard Dutton (ed.), A Midsummer Night's Dream: Contemporary Critical Essays (Palgrave, 1996)

Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard (eds.), A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works: Vol. III: The Comedies (Blackwell, 2003), especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Helen Hackett

Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy J. Vickers (eds.), Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourse of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe (University of Chicago Press, 1986), especially ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Shaping Fantasies of Elizabethan Culture: Gender, Power, Form’ by Louis Adrian Montrose

Helen Hackett, Writers and Their Work: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (British Council/Northcote House, 1997)

Helen Hackett, Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Meeting of Two Myths (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Katharine Hodgkin, Michelle O’Callaghan, and S. J. Wiseman (eds.), Reading the Early Modern Dream: The Terrors of the Night (Routledge, 2008), especially ‘Dream-Visions of Elizabeth I’ by Helen Hackett

Jan Kott (trans. Daniela Miedzyrecka and Lillian Vallee), The Bottom Translation: Marlowe and Shakespeare and the Cultural Tradition (Northwestern University Press, 1987)

Louis Montrose, The Purpose of Playing: Shakespeare and the Cultural Politics of the Elizabethan Theatre (University of Chicago Press, 1996)

Annabel Patterson, Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (Blackwell, 1989)

William Shakespeare (ed. Sukanta Chaudhuri), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Arden Shakespeare (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017)

William Shakespeare (ed. Peter Holland), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oxford University Press, 1994)

William Shakespeare (ed. Stanley Wells), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Penguin, 2005)

Gary Jay Williams, Our Moonlight Revels: A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Theatre (University of Iowa Press, 1997)

Susan Wiseman, Writing Metamorphosis in the English Renaissance 1500-1700 (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

 

Broadcasts

Featured in...

The In Our Time Quiz of the Year

The In Our Time Quiz of the Year

How much do you remember from our programmes of 2018?

The In Our Time Listeners' Top 10

The In Our Time Listeners' Top 10

If you’re new to In Our Time, this is a good place to start.

In Our Time podcasts

In Our Time podcasts

Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

Arts and Ideas podcast

Arts and Ideas podcast

Download the best of Radio 3's Free Thinking programme.

Podcast