Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Shakespeare and the Middle Ages

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Shakespeare and the Middle Ages

Article excerpt

Shakespeare and the Middle Ages, ed. Curtis Perry and John Watkins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). xiv + 295 pp.; 3 illustrations. ISBN 978-0-19-95 5817-9. £50.00. It has long been recognized that Shakespeare gave a variously distorted picture of the English Mddle Ages. Nevertheless, the imaginative power of his work has continued to shape our sense of the period. Acknowledging this, but in the light of new conceptions of the complex relation of medieval and early modern, Shakespeare and the Middle Ages examines ways in which written and oral sources and cultural practices of the Middle Ages also 'invented' Shakespeare. The general tendency, in line with revisionist histories of the last two decades, is to re-present a once triumphant 'Renaissance' rather as tin Charles Taylor's term) a 'Great Disembedding'. The collection is organized in three broad groupings. 'Texts in transition', on historical change and cultural transmission, contains Christopher Warley on 'A lover's complaint', situating its language of property and ownership within a transition from feudalism to capitalism; Sarah Beckwith on resurrections (especially Hermione's), showing medieval theology rearticulated in a Reformation context; Elizabem Fowler on a shift from sacramental discourse to mat of contracts and bonds in The Merchant of Venice; and John Watkins on Kingfohn and indicative fissures between medieval and early modern diplomatic practice with regard to nation, state, and dynasty. …

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