de Somogyi, Nick
de SOMOGYI, Nick
PERSONAL: Male. Education: Attended Dulwich College.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Nick Hern Books, The Glasshouse, 49A Goldhawk Rd., Shepherd's Bush, London W12 8QP, England.
CAREER: Author. Globe Theatre, London, England, former curator for summer exhibition "Shakespeare and Love."
Jokermen and Thieves: Bob Dylan and the Ballad Tradition, Wanted Man (Bury, Lancashire, England), 1986.
Shakespeare's Theatre of War, Ashgate (Brookfield, VT), 1998.
(Editor) Thomas Dekker, The Honest Whore, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 1998.
(Editor) Barnabe Barnes, The Devil's Charter: A Tragedy Containing the Life and Death of Pope Alexander the Sixth, Theatre Arts Books/Routledge (New York, NY), 1999.
Custom of the Country, Theatre Arts Books/Routledge (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor) William Shakespeare, Hamlet: The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 2001.
(Editor) William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure = Measvre, for Measure: The First Folio of 1623 and a Parallel Modern Edition, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 2002.
(Editor) William Shakespeare, Othello: The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 2002.
(Editor) William Shakespeare, Richard III: The Tragedy of Richard the Third, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 2002.
(Editor) William Shakespeare, Macbeth: The Tragedie of Macbeth, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 2003.
(Editor) William Shakespeare, Richard II: The Life and Death of King Richard the Second, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 2003.
(Editor) William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 2003.
Contributing editor, New Theatre Quarterly. Contributor to periodicals, including Literature Online.
SIDELIGHTS: A Shakespearean scholar who has worked at London's Globe Theatre and who is also the editor of the "Shakespeare Folio" series published by Nick Hern, Nick de Somogyi is the author of Shakespeare's Theatre of War. In this book, de Somogyi presents evidence to illustrate how the military conflicts in Europe during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries influenced the content of William Shakespeare's plays. "In this reconstructed context of protracted wartime and its attendant anxieties," wrote Jonathan Baldo in Shakespeare Quarterly, "characters such as Pistol and Osric, as well as entire plays, frequently acquire a new and often surprising dimension."
At the time Shakespeare was writing, England was involved in military conflicts with Spain and Ireland, and there was also strife across Europe, such as war in the Low Countries during the 1590s. Depictions of and references to war are therefore not surprising in Shakespeare's plays, but de Somogyi goes beyond the obvious to analyze how the Bard's plays, as well as those by contemporary writers such as Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd, illuminate changing concepts about the world as perceived by English society. For example, Baldo noted, "the figures of knight and scholar, conceived as mutually exclusive in the Middle Ages, were fused in Elizabethan England." De Somogyi also "explores the theatrical dimensions of war on the home front" and notes the nostalgic power of war that evokes cultural memories for the audience, revealing how Shakespeare utilized this phenomena to good effect in his plays.
Although Baldo felt that de Somogyi could have offered a "more sustained discussion of the memory of war" and that he sometimes focuses "too narrowly on the relation between war and popular superstition," the critic concluded that the book provides "a valuable service to Shakespeareans by rounding out our awareness of the European conflicts that pressed upon the English people of the time." Reviewing the book in Renaissance Quarterly, Clifford Davidson called it "exceptional."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Renaissance Quarterly, winter, 1999, Clifford Davidson, review of Shakespeare's Theatre of War, p. 1177; summer, 2000, "The Devil's Charter: A Tragedy Containing the Life and Death of Pope Alexander the Sixth," p. 616.
Shakespeare Quarterly, winter, 2000, Jonathan Baldo, review of Shakespeare's Theatre of War, p. 499.*