Shakespeare's Possible Worlds

Shakespeare's Possible Worlds

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New methods are needed to do justice to Shakespeare. His work exceeds conventional models, past and present, for understanding playworlds. In this book, Simon Palfrey goes right to the heart of early modern popular drama, revealing both how it works and why it matters. Unlike his contemporaries, Shakespeare gives independent life to all his instruments, and to every fraction and fragment of the plays. Palfrey terms these particles 'formactions' - theatre-specific forms that move with their own action and passion. Palfrey's book is critically daring in both substance and format. Its unique mix of imaginative gusto, thought experiments, and virtuosic technique generates piercing close readings of the plays. There is far more to playlife than meets the eye. Influenced by Leibniz's visionary original model of possible worlds, Palfrey opens up the multiple worlds of Shakespeare's language, scenes, and characters as never more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139950630
  • 9781139950633

Table of contents

Part I: 1. Where is the life?; 2. Purposes; 3. Embryologies; 4. Shakespeare the impossible; 5. Popular theatre and possibility; 6. Shakespeare v. actor; 7. Formactions; 8. Playing to the plot; 9. Middleton; 10. Jacobean comi-tragedy; 11. Everyman tyrant; Part II: 12. The monadic playworld; 13. The truth of anachronism; 14. Possible history: Henry IV; 15. Anti-rhetoric; 16. Falstaff; 17. Scenes within scenes; 18. Strange mimesis; 19. How close should we get?; 20. Metaphysics and playworlds; 21. Pyramids of possible worlds; Part III: 22. Perdita's possible lives; 23. A life in scenes; 24. Scene as joke: Much Ado; 25. Buried lives: Macbeth; 26. The rape of Marina; 27. Life at the end of the line: Macbeth; 28. Dying for life: Desdemona; Epilogue: life on the more

Review quote

'Shakespeare's Possible Worlds establishes Simon Palfrey as one of the great Shakespeare scholars of our age. On every page, Palfrey marshals his command of Renaissance theatrical technique and Baroque philosophy in order to float inventive readings that demonstrate the plenitude and plasticity of Shakespeare's dramatic imagining. Crafting both a philosophy of close reading and a dramaturgy of metaphor, Palfrey discovers a hermeneutics indigenous to theater. As Palfrey summons us to witness Shakespeare knitting shapes from the deep, we rediscover ourselves in the concatenation of worlds that drama assembles.' Julia Reinhard Lupton, University of California, Irvine, and author of Thinking with Shakespeare: Essays on Politics and Life '... unlike any other monograph in Shakespeare criticism published recently ... The intellectual labour that went into [this book] is dazzling. Ideas from literature, literary criticism, art history, fine arts, film, science, religion, rhetoric, philosophy, and new media abound, plunging the reader into an unexpected reading experience.' Goran Stanivukovic, Saint Mary's University, Nova Scotiashow more

About Simon Palfrey

Simon Palfrey is Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford. He is the joint founding editor of Shakespeare Now! His books include Late Shakespeare: A New World of Words (1997), Doing Shakespeare (2004, 2011 - named a TLS International Book of the Year), Shakespeare in Parts (with Tiffany Stern, 2007 - winner of an AHRC Innovations Award and the MRDS David Bevington Award for best new book on Medieval and Renaissance drama), and Poor Tom: Living 'King Lear' (2014).show more