Generosity and the Limits of Authority: Shakespeare, Herbert, Milton

Generosity and the Limits of Authority: Shakespeare, Herbert, Milton

by William Flesch

Hardcover

$50.00

Overview

Generosity is an ambiguous quality, William Flesch observes; while receiving gifts is pleasant, gift-giving both displays the wealth and strength of the giver and places the receiver under an obligation. In provocative new readings of Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton, Flesch illuminates the personal authority that is bound inextricably with acts of generosity.

Drawing on the work of such theorists as Mauss, Blanchot, Bourdieu, Wittgenstein, Bloom, Cavell, and Greenblatt, Flesch maintains that the literary power of Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton is at its most intense when they are exploring the limits of generosity. He considers how in Herbert's Temple divine assurance of the possibility of redemption is put into question and how the poet approaches such a gift with the ambivalence of a beneficiary. In his readings of Shakespeare's Richard II, Henry IV, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, and the sonnets, Flesch examines the perspective of the benefactor—including Shakespeare himself—who confronts the decline of his capacity to give. Turning to Milton's Paradise Lost, Flesch identifies two opposing ways of understanding generosity—Satan's, on the one hand, and Adam and Eve's, on the other - and elaborates the different conceptions of poetry to which these understandings give rise.

Scholars of Shakespeare and of Renaissance culture, Miltonists, literary theorists, and others interested in the relationship between philosophy and literature will want to read this insightful and challenging book.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801426421
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 12/01/1992
Pages: 277
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William Flesch is Associate Professor of English at Brandeis University.

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