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Oxford Shakespeare Topics provides students and teachers with short books on important aspects of Shakespeare criticism and scholarship. Each book is written by an authority in its field, and combines accessible style with original discussion of its subject. Notes and a critical guide to further reading equip the interested reader with the means to broaden research. Despite the presence of hundreds of Biblical allusions in Shakespeare, this is the first book to explore the pattern and significance of those references in relation to a selection of his greatest plays. It reveals the Bible as a rich source for Shakespeare's uses of
myth, history, comedy and tragedy, his techniques of staging, and his ways of characterizing rulers, magicians and teachers in the image of the Bible's multifaceted God. This book also discloses ways in which Shakespeare's plays offer both pious and irreverent interpretations of the Scriptures comparable to those presented by his contemporary writers, artists, philosophers and politicians. After an opening chapter comparing the Bible as a fragmented yet unified collection of 46 books with the fragmented yet unified First Folio collection of Shakespeare's 36 plays, each of the following six chapters matches a book of the Bible with a representative play: the creation
myth of Genesis with the first play in the Folio, The Tempest, the historical epic of Exodus with Henry V, the tragedy of Job with King Lear, the tragicomedy of the Gospel of Matthew with Measure for Measure, the homiletic disputation of Paul's Epistle to the Romans with The Merchant of Venice, and the apocalyptic masque of the Book of Revelation with The Tempest again. Though its subject matter and style appeal to a broad audience, this book is grounded in recent scholarship in Shakespeare and Biblical studies. Its intertextual readings are framed by descriptions of the historical circumstances of each work's composition and reception and by an emergent theory of
allusion as a principle of creation and understanding.
Readership: Shakespeare students at advanced undergraduate level, teachers of Shakespeare in schools.
Steven Marx, Professor of English, Cal Poly University, California
"The first book to explore the pattern and significance of hundreds of biblical allusions in Shakespeare in relation to a selection of his greatest plays." - Years Work in English Studies
"Marx fills something of a void with Shakespeare and the Bible. He compiles critical works, identifies current arguments within the field, and lends his own interpretations. The final product is a comprehensive and insightful contribution to Shakespearean scholarship." - Criticism
"Hugely enjoyable and insightful ... Marx's analysis of Merchant of Venice is particularly thought provoking" - Literature &
"Oxford University Press offer a mix of engagingly written introductions to a variety of Topics intended largely for undergraduates. Each author has clearly been reading and listening to the most recent scholarship, but they wear their learning lightly" - Ruth Morse, Times Literary Supplement
General Note; 1. Introduction: 'Kiss the book'; 2. Postenrity and Prosperity: Genesis in The Tempest; 3. Historical Types: Moses, David, and Henry V; 4. 'Within a Foot of the Extreme Verge': The Book of Job and King Lear; 5. True Lies and False Truths: Measure for Measure and the Gospel; 6. 'Dangerous Conceits' and 'Proofs of Holy Writ': Allusion in The Merchant of Venice and Paul's Letter to the Romans; 7. A Masque of Revelation: The Tempest as Apolcaypse; Notes; Suggestions for Further Reading; Index