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From the Publisher"This volume is one of the most important new studies of Shakespeare to have appeared this century. It takes the discussion of Shakespeare and early modern political thought to a hitherto unseen level of sophistication. For the first time, we are offered a serious and sustained reading of Shakespeare in the light of the "Cambridge school" of work on the language of political theory that is associated above all with Quentin Skinner, who provides a magisterial afterword. What is remarkable about the collection is the way in which its contributors come from diverse perspectives — here we have distinguished philosophers and historians of ideas as well as the distinctive voice of Stephen Greenblatt — and yet they create a strikingly unified image of a Shakespeare who is at once a deep political thinker, a consummate master of rhetoric and a wily refusenik when it comes to orthodox positions. With great originality, the contributors show that even a work as apparently slight as The Merry Wives of Windsor has a powerful political dimension. This is a book that deserves a prominent place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in Shakespeare — more than that, of anyone interested in the interplay between literature and the history of political thought.
Jonathan Bate, Professor of Shakespeare & Renaissance Literature, University of Warwick
"Students and scholars of Shakespeare will find much of interest in Shakespeare and Political Thought."
-Paulina Kewes,Jesus College, University of Oxford
"How did Shakespeare regard the great political issues and controversies of his day, and where did his own political sympathies ultimately lie? The contributors to this outstanding collection - literary critics, political theorists, historians of the early modern period - provide a subtle and provocative set of answers to these familiar questions. Wary of the notion that Shakespeare endorses, either tacitly or explicitly, any specific system of government, they propose none the less a writer whose intense political consciousness is evident even in such hitherto unsuspected areas of his work as the Sonnets and The Merry Wives of Windsor; a writer sharply observant of current political practices and dilemmas, sceptical about the common uses of power, and skilled in the flexible rhetorical practices of the day. Inspired in part by the Cambridge school of intellectual history, in part by other recent revisionist work in the early modern field, the book represents a new synthesis of method and approach, and the definitive starting point for any future exploration of the 'political' Shakespeare."
-Ian Donaldson,University of Melbourne