This revised and updated Companion acquaints the student reader with the forms, contexts, critical and theatrical lives of the ten plays considered to be Shakespeare's tragedies. Thirteen essays, written by leading scholars in Britain and North America, address the ways in which Shakespearean tragedy originated, developed and diversified, as well as how it has fared on stage, as text and in criticism. Topics covered include the literary precursors of Shakespeare's tragedies, cultural backgrounds, sub-genres and receptions of the plays. The book examines the four major tragedies and, in addition, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Timon of Athens. Essays from the first edition have been fully revised to reflect the most up-to-date scholarship; the bibliography has been extensively updated; and four new chapters have been added, discussing Shakespearean form, Shakespeare and philosophy, Shakespeare's tragedies in performance, and Shakespeare and religion.
This ground breaking and accessible study explores the connections between the English Reformation's impact on the belief in eternal salvation and how it affected ways of believing in the plays of Shakespeare. Claire McEachern examines the new and better faith that Protestantism imagined for itself, a faith in which scepticism did not erode belief, but worked to substantiate it in ways that were both affectively positive and empirically positivist. Concluding with in-depth readings of Richard II, King Lear and The Tempest, the book represents a markedly fresh intervention in the topic of Shakespeare and religion. With great originality, McEachern argues that the English reception of the Calvinist imperative to 'know with' God allowed the very nature of literary involvement to change, transforming feeling for a character into feeling with one.