The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.023 Monday, 23 January 2012
Date: January 21, 2012 5:38:24 PM EST
Subject: New Mowat Essay
Thank you for your invitation, Hardy. A 2012 essay I strongly recommend is Barbara Mowat’s chapter, “Shakespeare Reads the Geneva Bible” in Travis deCook and Alan Galey (eds.), Shakespeare, the Bible, and the Form of the Book. In an essay Barbara tells me was a pleasure for her to write, she leaves no doubt that it was reading and studying the Geneva translation in particular that informs some key themes in the canon. As I told her, I was especially pleased that she highlights Shakespeare’s reading of the marginal notes for which the Geneva Bible is so well-known. For example, in discussing the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:10-11, she says Shakespeare “seems at least equally drawn to the marginal gloss on the words ‘the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me,’ a gloss which reads ‘the iniquity itself crieth for vengeance.’”
I hope Barbara’s essay will help renew interest in the regrettably short-changed topic of the Bible and Shakespeare. Or are there still those who agree with Santayana’s views on “The Absence of Religion in Shakespeare”? As a psychoanalyst, I’m always mindful of the risk that we may treat ambiguities in the interpretation of Shakespeare as an ink-blot, onto which we unwittingly project our own preconceptions and proclivities.