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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: October ::
Re: References to the Bible in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1763  Tuesday, 19 October 1999.

[1]     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Oct 1999 15:46:16 +0100
        Subj:   Re: References to the Bible in Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Steven Marx <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Oct 1999 17:30:01 -0700
        Subj:   Re: References to the Bible in Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Oct 1999 15:46:16 +0100
Subject: 10.1755 Re: References to the Bible in Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.1755 Re: References to the Bible in Shakespeare

Hannibal Hamlin raises some interesting questions about references to
the Bible in Shakespeare.  My reason for suggesting Belsey's book is
that she looks at biblical stories (well, one in particular) as part of
the mythological structure of Elizabethan culture.

This avoids Christian allegorising and some of the less fruitful
speculations about what Shakespeare believed, while at the same time
recognising that there were in the late 16th and early 17th centuries
certain narratives that were deployed to explain a range of
historically-specific problems that were increasingly being encountered.

We need, of course, to radically re-think questions of "influence" in
the light of questions of intertextuality, and the interactive nature of
cultural narratives.  The model that we entertain, far too often is that
of Shakespeare the literary researcher in a library, surrounded by books
that were then used as "sources" for his plays.  It is precisely this
search for grounding "origins" that has, over the past 20 years or so,
been rendered very problematical indeed.  I suppose the question needs
now to be posed along the lines of: to what extent did "myths" (in the
Barthesian sense of the term) write Shakespeare? And before Bill
Godshalk puts down his glass of zinfandel and goes rushing to the
keyboard, let me say that this does NOT transform Shakespeare or any
other writer into some kind of automaton.  It might however place
certain restrictions on what was thinkable at the time, compared to what
is thinkable now. In her book Belsey calls this "doing history at the
level of the signifier" i.e. looking at an earlier period in terms of
its representations of its own concerns and our readings of them.

Cheers,
John Drakakis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steven Marx <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Oct 1999 17:30:01 -0700
Subject: 10.1755 Re: References to the Bible in Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1755 Re: References to the Bible in Shakespeare

I believe it's been mentioned before on this list, but it may be
worthwhile repeating in response to the queries about Shakespeare's
references to the Bible, that Naseeb Shaheen has recently published a
one volume collection of his three earlier books on _Biblical References
in Shakespeare's Plays_ (University of Delaware Press).

A description can be found at

http://www.udpress.udel.edu/udpress/shaheen.html

Steven Marx
 

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