The Legacy of G. Wilson Knight

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Abstract

G. Wilson Knight (1897-1985) was one of the most influential Shakespearean critics of the mid-twentieth century. This piece surveys his work from 1930 until the early 1980s. Much affected by the First World War, he developed a style of criticism based on Christian principles of respect for other people and belief in an all-powerful God. Many of his most famous pieces (in THE WHEEL OF FIRE, for instance) argue for human insignificance in an indifferent universe. It is up to all of us as individuals to develop methods of coping with this world. Wilson Knight’s ideas gained particular currency during the Second World War, when Britain’s very future seemed at risk due to the threat of Nazi invasion. Although much derided for his use of transcendent language—especially by his contemporary F. R. Leavis—Wilson Knight’s ideas seem to have acquired new significance in a globalized world, where individuals fight to main their identity in a technology-driven environment.

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Linguaculture

The Journal of Linguaculture Centre for (Inter)cultural and (Inter)lingual Research, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi

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