This book comprises ten essays on Shakespearean drama, the majority of which focus on the problem of language and more particularly on issues pertaining to names and their meanings. Four of these essays deal specifically with
Romeo and Juliet, and examine the work in different sets of terms: as a reply to the aspersions against Shakespeare contained in Greene’s
Groatsworth of Wit, as a representative site for a kind of archaeology of meaning, as an experiment in the poetics of identity, and as a meditation on the interrelation between rival conceptions of time. Other works subjected to extended analyses in independent essays are
Richard II, Julius Caesar and
Macbeth, all of which are interpreted as tragedies of language in which the paradoxes inherent in names and naming are enacted in the personal dilemmas of the protagonists. The final two essays in the volume, comparative rather than exegetical in approach, explore the intricate web of allusion linking
The Tempest with Marlowe’s
Doctor Faustus and Jonson’s
The Alchemist, and consider the contribution that all three plays make to the Renaissance exploration of the role played by art and knowledge in human life.
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2007. 233 pp.
Contents: A Bird of Another Feather. Will Shake-Scene’s Belated Revenge – The Sign of the Rose. Romeo and Juliet and
the Contexts of Meaning – That Bare Vowel. An I for an Ay in Romeo and Juliet – Unkind Hours and Timeless Ends. Uncomfortable
Time in Romeo and Juliet – The Shakespearean Name. Variations on a Theme – The Word Against the Word. The Varieties
of Linguistic Experience in Richard II – Dumb Mouths and Monarchs’ Voices. Embodying Language in Julius Caesar –
Imperfect Speakers. Macbeth and the Name of King – ‘Burn but his books’. Rough Magic in Doctor Faustus and The
Tempest – Carrying Tempest in his Hand and Voice. The Magician in Jonson and Shakespeare.