Shakespeare and the Afterlife

Shakespeare and the Afterlife

by John S. Garrison


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The question of what happens after death was a vital one in Shakespeare's time, as it is today. And, like today, the answers were by no means universally agreed upon. Early moderns held surprisingly diverse beliefs about the afterlife and about how earthly life affected one's fate after death. Was death akin to a sleep where one did not wake until judgment day? Were sick bodies healed in heaven? Did sinners experience torment after death? Would an individual reunite with loved ones in the afterlife? Could the dead communicate with the world of the living? Could the living affect the state of souls after death? How should the dead be commemorated? Could the dead return to life? Was immortality possible? The wide array of possible answers to these questions across Shakespeare's work can be surprising.

Exploring how particular texts and characters answer these questions, Shakespeare and the Afterlife showcases the vitality and originality of the author's language and thinking. We encounter characters with very personal visions of what awaits them after death, and these visions reveal new insights into these individuals' motivations and concerns as they navigate the world of the living.

Shakespeare and the Afterlife encourages us to engage with the author's work with new insight and new curiosity. The volume connects some of the best-known speeches, characters, and conflicts to cultural debates and traditions circulating during Shakespeare's time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198801108
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/25/2018
Series: Oxford Shakespeare Topics Series
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.30(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

John Garrison, Associate Professor of English, Grinnell College

John S. Garrison is Associate Professor of English at Grinnell College. He is the author of Friendship and Queer Theory in the Renaissance and Glass. He is also co-editor of two edited collections, Sexuality and Memory in Early Modern England: Literature and the Erotics of Recollection and Making Milton: Writing, Publication, Reception. Professor Garrison has held fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, Beinecke Library at Yale University, California Humanities Institute, Council of Independent Colleges/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Folger Shakespeare Library, Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Medieval Academy of America, Medieval Association of the Pacific, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Newberry Library.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Undiscovered Country
1. Contemplating Death's Approach
2. At the Gateway to the Afterlife
3. Dialogues with the Dead
4. Resurrecting the Dead
5. Achieving Immortality
Further Reading

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