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 before.Read more
- Offers a new, groundbreaking model for discovering the life in Shakespeare's plays
- Presents an entirely new way of understanding the physics and metaphysics of theatre
- Compares Shakespeare with his fellow early modern playwrights to reveal exactly what makes his work so unique
Reviews & endorsements
'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 LifeSee more reviews
'… 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 Scotia
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- Date Published: June 2017
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107649255
- length: 394 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 151 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.58kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Where is the life?
4. Shakespeare the impossible
5. Popular theatre and possibility
6. Shakespeare v. actor
8. Playing to the plot
10. Jacobean comi-tragedy
11. Everyman tyrant
12. The monadic playworld
13. The truth of anachronism
14. Possible history: Henry IV
17. Scenes within scenes
18. Strange mimesis
19. How close should we get?
20. Metaphysics and playworlds
21. Pyramids of possible worlds
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 line.
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