Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Book Note: Shakespeare's Dead: Stages of Death in Shakespeare's Playworlds

Palfrey, Simon, and Emma Smith. Shakespeare's Dead: Stages of Death in Shakespeare's Playworlds. Oxford: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2016.

Without the subtitle, the response to this book might be, "Well—yes.  Literally, yes.  Figuratively, not so much." But it's not a contraction: it's a possessive.

In other words, this is not a proclamation that Shakespeare is dead. Rather, it's a book about the dead of Shakespeare—or, really, ideas about death, dying, and the dead in Shakespeare's day.

Beautiful images complement a rich text that provides readings of death-related elements of the plays and explorations of Shakespeare's culture's ideas of death.

I also greatly appreciate the book's starting point. Where does one go to examine ideas of death in Shakespeare? The most famous Shakespeare quote of them all, right? In this case, no. We go to Measure for Measure to learn what Claudio and the Duke have to say about it.

I can't give you that whole chapter—it's too long—but I can give you a sampling of the writing and the images you'll encounter.


It's a great book—well worth a gander.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest