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Shakespeare and Republicanism


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  • Date Published: May 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521718004

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About the Authors
  • This groundbreaking work, first published in 2005, reveals exactly how Shakespeare was influenced by contemporary strands in political thought that were critical of the English crown and constitution. Shakespeare has often been seen as a conservative political thinker characterised by an over-riding fear of the 'mob'. Hadfield argues instead that Shakespeare's writing emerged out of an intellectual milieu fascinated by republican ideas. From the 1590s onwards, he explored republican themes in his poetry and plays: political assassination, elected government, alternative constitutions, and, perhaps most importantly of all, the problem of power without responsibility. Beginning with Shakespeare's apocalyptic representation of civil war in the Henry VI plays, Hadfield provides a series of powerful new readings of Shakespeare and his time. For anyone interested in Shakespeare and Renaissance culture, this book is required reading.

    • Shakespeare's relationship to the history of republicanism is fully explored
    • Andrew Hadfield radically revises our historical understanding of Shakespeare
    • A fascinating work that reveals how much we didn't know about the political contexts of Shakespeare's work
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    • Winner of the SCSC Roland H.Bainton Prize for Literature

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… scintillating study … This challenging, innovative book should permanently transform the way we think about Shakespeare's politics.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'groundbreaking study ... His convincing argument subverts assumptions concerning the political orthodoxy of Shakespeare.' John King, Literature and History

    'This brilliant reading comes just when we thought there was nothing more to be said about Shakespeare and politics.' Peter Holbrook, The Review of English Studies

    'The suggestive power of Shakespeare and Republicanism lies in the seriousness with which it links Shakespeare's stories, characters and themes to intellectual and political ideas.' Heather James, Shakespeare Quarterly

    'Hadfield has performed a valuable service in urging us to think again about how and why Englishmen learned to think of themselves as citizens, and mapping out some of the textual routes by which they arrived at that destination.' Anne McLaren, Textual Practice

    '…Hadfield's effort to uncover in Shakespeare elements of a submerged English republican tradition is a worthy, useful and often interesting project.' CLIO

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521718004
    • length: 380 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: was Shakespeare a Republican?
    Part I. Republican Culture in the 1590s:
    1. Forms of Republican culture in late sixteenth-century England
    2. Literature and Republicanism in the age of Shakespeare
    Part II. Shakespeare and Republicanism: Introduction: Shakespeare's early Republican career
    3. Shakespeare's Pharsalia: the first Tetralogy
    4. The beginning of the Republic: Venus and Lucrece
    5. The end of the Republic: Titus Andronicus and Julius Caesar
    6. The Radical Hamlet
    7. After the Republican moment

  • Author

    Andrew Hadfield, University of Sussex
    Adrew Hadfield is Professor of English at the University of Sussex.


    • Winner of the SCSC Roland H.Bainton Prize for Literature

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