The Gospel according to Shakespeare

Overview

In this slim, poetically powerful volume, Piero Boitani develops his earlier work in The Bible and Its Rewritings, focusing on Shakespeare’s “rescripturing” of the Gospels. Boitani persuasively urges that Shakespeare read the New Testament with great care and an overall sense of affirmation and participation, and that many of his plays constitute their own original testament, insofar as they translate the good news into human terms. In Hamlet and King Lear, he suggests, Shakespeare’s "New Testament" is merely ...

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Overview

In this slim, poetically powerful volume, Piero Boitani develops his earlier work in The Bible and Its Rewritings, focusing on Shakespeare’s “rescripturing” of the Gospels. Boitani persuasively urges that Shakespeare read the New Testament with great care and an overall sense of affirmation and participation, and that many of his plays constitute their own original testament, insofar as they translate the good news into human terms. In Hamlet and King Lear, he suggests, Shakespeare’s "New Testament" is merely hinted at, and faith, salvation, and peace are only glimpsed from far away. But in Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest, the themes of compassion and forgiveness, transcendence, immanence, the role of the deity, resurrection, and epiphany are openly, if often obliquely, staged. The Christian Gospels and the Christian Bible are the signposts of this itinerary.
 
Originally published in 2009, Boitani's Il Vangelo Secondo Shakespeare was awarded the 2010 De Sanctis Prize, a prestigious Italian literary award. Now available for the first time in an English translation, The Gospel according to Shakespeare brings to a broad scholarly and nonscholarly audience Boitani's insights into the current themes dominating the study of Shakespeare's literary theology. It will be of special interest to general readers interested in Shakespeare’s originality and religious perspective.
 
"This is a passionate and insightful reading of Shakespeare's late plays, beginning with Hamlet and culminating with The Tempest, by one of Italy's leading literary scholars. Rather than engaging in extended critical debate with either prior theological visitors to Shakespeare or with the contemporary secular hegemony, Boitani embarks on a more personal and intimate reading of the plays that includes extensive retelling of their basic narratives with an eye to disclosing their gospel themes of love, hope, faith, charity, and rebirth. What makes the book distinctive is the voice of the author and the 'lectura' mode, which will garner a different, broader audience for this book than that achieved by scholars working similar terrain in a more academic mode." —Julia Lupton, author of Thinking with Shakespeare: Essays on Politics and Life

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This English translation of the 2009 Italian edition broadens Boitani's (comparative literature, Univ. of Rome; The Bible and Its Rewritings) examination of the Christian themes found in Shakespeare's later work. Boitani begins with an investigation of Hamlet and King Lear, which, according to him, foreshadow the common plot elements in the romances: Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest. He argues that Shakespeare's use of recurring character and storyline tropes—the tyrant father who ultimately repents and seeks forgiveness; the innocent daughter who is treated unjustly; a dramatic recognition and reunion—recalls events leading up to the resurrection of Christ; thus these plays can be read as Shakespeare's version of the New Testament. This book is intended for a general audience and includes thorough plot summaries and many quotations from the plays. However, it is not an introductory text. VERDICT Boitani's study will be appreciated most by readers who are already familiar with the work discussed here.—Nicholas Graham, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780268022358
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2013
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 152
  • Sales rank: 751,116
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Piero Boitani is professor of comparative literature at the University of Rome "Sapienza." He is the author of a number of books, including The Genius to Improve an Invention: Literary Transitions (University of Notre Dame Press, 2002).

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