The Gospel according to Shakespeare

University of Notre Dame Pess
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In this slim, poetically powerful volume, Piero Boitani develops his earlier work in The Bible and Its Rewritings, focusing on Shakespeare’s “rescripturing” of the Gospels. Boitani persuasively urges that Shakespeare read the New Testament with great care and an overall sense of affirmation and participation, and that many of his plays constitute their own original testament, insofar as they translate the good news into human terms. In Hamlet and King Lear, he suggests, Shakespeare’s "New Testament" is merely hinted at, and faith, salvation, and peace are only glimpsed from far away. But in Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest, the themes of compassion and forgiveness, transcendence, immanence, the role of the deity, resurrection, and epiphany are openly, if often obliquely, staged. The Christian Gospels and the Christian Bible are the signposts of this itinerary. Originally published in 2009, Boitani's Il Vangelo Secondo Shakespeare was awarded the 2010 De Sanctis Prize, a prestigious Italian literary award. Now available for the first time in an English translation, The Gospel according to Shakespeare brings to a broad scholarly and nonscholarly audience Boitani's insights into the current themes dominating the study of Shakespeare's literary theology. It will be of special interest to general readers interested in Shakespeare’s originality and religious perspective.
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About the author

Piero Boitani is professor of comparative literature at the University of Rome "Sapienza."

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Notre Dame Pess
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Published on
Jan 9, 2014
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Pages
168
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ISBN
9780268075682
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Modern / 16th Century
Literary Criticism / Shakespeare
Religion / Christianity / Literature & the Arts
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Speculation about Shakespeare's own religious beliefs and responses to the Reformation have dominated discussions of faith in the playwright's work for decades. As a result, we often lose sight of what's truly important-the plays themselves. By focusing on those plays in several succinct, fluently written chapters, Richard McCoy reminds us of the spell-binding power inherent in works like Othello, As You Like It, and The Winter's Tale and shows why they continue to cause audiences to gladly exercise what Samuel Taylor Coleridge called the "willing suspension of disbelief." Faith in Shakespeare ruminates on what it means to believe in the Bard's plays, exploring how their plots can be both preposterous and gripping, and how their characters seem more substantial and enduring than the people surrounding us in the theater. Informed by Coleridge's "poetic faith," the book discusses what this concept shares with religious faith and how it departs from recent historicist approaches to the dramatist's work. Faith in Shakespeare concentrates more on text than context, finding the afterlife of Shakespeare's language more vivid and engaging than theological controversies. The book confirms its convictions in literature's intrinsic powers by exploring the causes for our paradoxical belief in theater's potent but manifest illusions. Plays that ask their audience to "awake your faith" or "believe then, if you please" ultimately enable us to "mind true things by what their mockeries be." Rather than faith in God or the supernatural, McCoy argues that faith in Shakespeare is sustained and explained only by the complex, subtle, and entirely human power of poetic eloquence and dramatic performance.
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