Shakespeare's Binding Language

ISBN : 9780198818359

John Kerrigan
640 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2018
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Shakespeare's Binding Language is an innovative, substantial but highly readable study by a respected scholar-critic who has already published a series of well-received books and editions with OUP and Penguin, and who is also known for his pieces in the Guardian, TLS, and London Review of Books. It explores the significance in Shakespeare's plays of oaths, vows, contracts, pledges, and the other verbal and performative acts by which characters commit themselves to the truth of things past, present, and to come. In early modern England, such binding language was everywhere. Oaths of office, marriage vows, legal bonds, and casual, everyday profanity gave shape and texture to life. John Kerrigan gives a freshly researched account of this context, but he focuses on the drama. Across the sweep of Shakespeare's career, from the early histories to the late romances, this book opens new perspectives on key dramatic moments and illuminates language and action.


Preface; Introduction; Early Revenge: 3 Henry VI to Titus Andronicus; Swearing in Jest: Love's Labour's Lost; A World-Without-End Bargain: Love's Labour's Lost; Group Revenge: Titus Andronicus to Othello; Time and Money: The Comedy of Errors and The Merchant of Venice; Shylock and Wedlock: Carnal Bonds; Mighty Opposites: 2 Henry VI to Hamlet; Oaths, Threats, and Henry V; Troilus, Cressida, and Constancy; Binding Language in Measure for Measure; Knots, Charms, Riddles: Macbeth and All's Well That Ends Well; Benefits and Bonds: King Lear and Timon of Athens; Reformation I: King James, King Johan and King John; Reformation II: Sir Thomas More and Henry VIII; Coriolanus Fidiussed; Oath and Counsel: Cymbeline and The Winter's Tale; Epilogue; Notes; Bibliography; Index

About the author: 

John Kerrigan is Professor of English 2000 at the University of Cambridge. Among his books are an edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint (1986), Revenge Tragedy: Aeschylus to Armageddon (1996), and Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics 1603-1707 (2008). He has lectured in many parts of the world and writes for the TLS and the London Review of Books.

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