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Shakespeare, Sinatra, and the Philosophy of Aging [excerpt]

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Aging in the world of entertainment is portrayed in a variety of ways. In some cases it’s graceful and elegant; in others it’s manic and doddering. Shakespeare has dealt with this subject numerous times with vast reinterpretations in productions through the centuries. In this excerpt from Aging Thoughtfully: Conversations about Retirement, Wrinkles, Romance, and Regret, authors Martha C. Nussbaum and Saul Levmore look at the classic example of King Lear, and how different portrayals of this elderly character can be a reflection of how people see aging and infirmity in modern times. Productions of King Lear these days are obsessively concerned with the theme of aging. Just as the postwar period saw an emphasis on empti­ness, loss of meaning, and utter devastation (in Peter Brook’s memorable production starring Paul Scofield, but also in countless others after that), so in our time it is the age theme that has become popular, and that may even account in part for the play’s recent surge. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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