Shakespeare's Binding Language

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9780198757580: Shakespeare's Binding Language

This remarkable, innovative book explores the significance in Shakespeare's plays of oaths, vows, contracts, pledges, and the other utterances and 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. The proper use of such language, and the extent of its power to bind, was argued over by lawyers, religious writers, and satirists, and these debates inform literature and drama.

Shakespeare's Binding Language gives a freshly researched account of these contexts, but it is focused on Shakespeare's plays. What motives should we look for when characters asseverate or promise? How far is binding language self-persuasive or deceptive? When is it allowable to break a vow? How do oaths and promises structure an audience's expectations? 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. Each chapter gives an account of a play or group of plays, yet the study builds to a sustained investigation of some of the most important systems, institutions, and controversies in early modern England, and of the wiring of Shakespearean dramaturgy.

Scholarly but accessible, and offering startling insights, this is a major contribution to Shakespeare studies by one of the leading figures in the field.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:


John Kerrigan, Professor of English 2000, University of Cambridge

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

Review:


"Given this year's 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, there was always going to be a slew of new publications; few, I suspect, will have as long-lasting an effect as John Kerrigan's. His field of inquiry is both straightforward and complicated. It is almost retrospectively obvious that Shakespeare's plays contain a great amount of vows, oaths, swearing both covenantual and vulgar, pledges, promises and imprecations. The same might be said for a great many playwrights' works; but the depth of subtlety which Kerrigan finds in the handling of these specific rhetorical forms is compelling." -- The Spectator


"Given this year's 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, there was always going to be a slew of new publications; few, I suspect, will have as long-lasting an effect as John Kerrigan's. His field of inquiry is both straightforward and complicated. It is almost retrospectively obvious that Shakespeare's plays contain a great amount of vows, oaths, swearing both covenantual and vulgar, pledges, promises and imprecations. The same might be said for a great many playwrights' works; but the depth of subtlety which Kerrigan finds in the handling of these specific rhetorical forms is compelling." -- The Spectator


..".Kerrigan investigates a wide variety of culturally specific norms governing this language and how Shakespeare interrogates those norms in his plays. For example, in examining Love's Labours Lost, Kerrigan points out that in Shakespeare's time, Cambridge and Oxford students were required to take a three-year pledge of celibacy to live with friends and study- a fact that makes the initial vow of the play comprehensible. The play suggests that Shakespeare found these pledges ridiculous and possibly tragic. In other chapters, Kerrigan addresses oaths of revenge, money and its bonds, matrimonial pledges, promises of loyalty to government, and swearing to God or gods. Each form of binding language has a historically specific constellation of meanings that Kerrigan uses to inform the plays. A fascinating, fresh, and erudite look at Shakespeare's plays." --B. A. McGowan, CHOICE


"Given this year's 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, there was always going to be a slew of new publications; few, I suspect, will have as long-lasting an effect as John Kerrigan's. His field of inquiry is both straightforward and complicated. It is almost retrospectively obvious that Shakespeare's plays contain a great amount of vows, oaths, swearing both covenantual and vulgar, pledges, promises and imprecations. The same might be said for a great many playwrights' works; but the depth of subtlety which Kerrigan finds in the handling of these specific rhetorical forms is compelling." --Stuart Kelly, The Spectator


"When you've spent most of your life teaching Shakespeare's plays, you don't expect to stumble upon a book that makes you feel you've failed to understand something essential about them. John Kerrigan's Shakespeare's Binding Language is just such a book...a profoundly rewarding book. It will prove indispensable, not only for those who enjoy reading the plays, but also for those who direct and act in them." --James Shapiro, Books of the Year 2016, New Statesman


"interesting general history...skilled exercise of literary criticism...the sheer intricacy of individual instances in Shakespeare is amazing...a convincing portrait of the artist as inquirer." --Michael Wood, London Review of Books


"A monumental intervention. This elegant and elaborate examination of the intertwined languages of law and drama will have a lasting impact on the field." --Willy Maley, Times Higher Education Supplement


"a massive, complicated and brilliant interpretation of the oaths, vows and promises that bind the characters in virtually every one of Shakespeare's plays...Shakespeare will only endure if we continually reinvent and reinterpret him, and Kerrigan has done just that. We will still be digesting his masterly work on vows and oaths by 2023 and the next Shakespeare celebration, the 400th anniversary of the First Folio's publication." --Jerry Brotton, The Daily Telegraph


"Shakespeare's Binding Language is among the most imaginative books on Shakespeare to be published this year....Kerrigan's view of Shakespeare's characters as bound in a tangle of conflicting promises is...unique and refreshing" --Independent, Indybest


"Scintillating...brilliant...both deeply learned and freshly attentive to the language of the plays. ...criticism at its fighting weight and on the front foot, dancing, feinting, and then deftly deploying the knockout citation...It is a great achievement" --Emma Smith, Times Literary Supplement


"wide-ranging, remarkably original study, ...a monumental achievement" --Katharine Eisaman Maus, Review of English Studies


"Kerrigan is a scholar of boundless critical energy [and] formidable scholarship...spellbinding ...Hefty as a doorstop, Shakespeare's Binding Language is also edgy as a letter-opener....It is the gage and measure of where we are with Shakespeare's verbal artistry, and critics will ponder its findings for years to come" --Willy Maley, Spenser Review


"shines new light on the vast array of characters in the canon...Kerrigan's investigations go the very heart of Shakespeare's world..." --Stratford-on-Avon Observer


"mighty and magisterial...a timely and erudite book that will surely transform our understanding of the context in which Shakespeare worked and his achievement in producing works that reflect so intelligently on the complicated loyalties demanded by society....Few works on Shakespeare written in the past 20 years contain so many insights." --Andrew Hadfield, Irish Times


"[S]ome of the most enjoyable moments are found in the subtle, but suggestive, points made about the better known works, such as the onomastics of the tragedies...New Historicism still has much to offer the field of Shakespeare studies." --Juliet Gordon, The Use of English


"hakespeare's Binding Language addresses just about every oath, vow, promise, bond, gage, and contract in the canon ... the significance of Kerrigan's work -- not just in terms of scale, but also in terms of depth of knowledge -- can't be denied." --Kevin Curran, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900


..".Kerrigan investigates a wide variety of culturally specific norms governing this language and how Shakespeare interrogates those norms in his plays. For example, in examining Love's Labours Lost, Kerrigan points out that in Shakespeare's time, Cambridge and Oxford students were required to take a three-year pledge of celibacy to live with friends and study- a fact that makes the initial vow of the play comprehensible. The play suggests that Shakespeare found these pledges ridiculous and possibly tragic. In other chapters, Kerrigan addresses oaths of revenge, money and its bonds, matrimonial pledges, promises of loyalty to government, and swearing to God or gods. Each form of binding language has a historically specific constellation of meanings that Kerrigan uses to inform the plays. A fascinating, fresh, and erudite look at Shakespeare's plays." --B. A. McGowan, CHOICE


"Given this year's 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, there was always going to be a slew of new publications; few, I suspect, will have as long-lasting an effect as John Kerrigan's. His field of inquiry is both straightforward and complicated. It is almost retrospectively obvious that Shakespeare's plays contain a great amount of vows, oaths, swearing both covenantual and vulgar, pledges, promises and imprecations. The same might be said for a great many playwrights' works; but the depth of subtlety which Kerrigan finds in the handling of these specific rhetorical forms is compelling." --Stuart Kelly, The Spectator


"When you've spent most of your life teaching Shakespeare's plays, you don't expect to stumble upon a book that makes you feel you've failed to understand something essential about them. John Kerrigan's Shakespeare's Binding Language is just such a book...a profoundly rewarding book. It will prove indispensable, not only for those who enjoy reading the plays, but also for those who direct and act in them." --James Shapiro, Books of the Year 2016, New Statesman


"interesting general history...skilled exercise of literary criticism...the sheer intricacy of individual instances in Shakespeare is amazing...a convincing portrait of the artist as inquirer." --Michael Wood, London Review of Books


"A monumental intervention. This elegant and elaborate examination of the intertwined languages of law and drama will have a lasting impact on the field." --Willy Maley, Times Higher Education Supplement


"a massive, complicated and brilliant interpretation of the oaths, vows and promises that bind the characters in virtually every one of Shakespeare's plays...Shakespeare will only endure if we continually reinvent and reinterpret him, and Kerrigan has done just that. We will still be digesting his masterly work on vows and oaths by 2023 and the next Shakespeare celebration, the 400th anniversary of the First Folio's publication." --Jerry Brotton, The Daily Telegraph


"Shakespeare's Binding Language is among the most imaginative books on Shakespeare to be published this year....Kerrigan's view of Shakespeare's characters as bound in a tangle of conflicting promises is...unique and refreshing" --Independent, Indybest


"Scintillating...brilliant...both deeply learned and freshly attentive to the language of the plays. ...criticism at its fighting weight and on the front foot, dancing, feinting, and then deftly deploying the knockout citation...It is a great achievement" --Emma Smith, Times Literary Supplement


"wide-ranging, remarkably original study, ...a monumental achievement" --Katharine Eisaman Maus, Review of English Studies


"Kerrigan is a scholar of boundless critical energy [and] formidable scholarship...spellbinding ...Hefty as a doorstop, Shakespeare's Binding Language is also edgy as a letter-opener....It is the gage and measure of where we are with Shakespeare's verbal artistry, and critics will ponder its findings for years to come" --Willy Maley, Spenser Review


"shines new light on the vast array of characters in the canon...Kerrigan's investigations go the very heart of Shakespeare's world..." --Stratford-on-Avon Observer


"mighty and magisterial...a timely and erudite book that will surely transform our understanding of the context in which Shakespeare worked and his achievement in producing works that reflect so intelligently on the complicated loyalties demanded by society....Few works on Shakespeare written in the past 20 years contain so many insights." --Andrew Hadfield, Irish Times


"[S]ome of the most enjoyable moments are found in the subtle, but suggestive, points made about the better known works, such as the onomastics of the tragedies...New Historicism still has much to offer the field of Shakespeare studies." --Juliet Gordon, The Use of English


"John Kerrigan's focus in this absorbing, beautifully written study is on the oaths, vows, and
pledges we hear uttered by Shakespeare's characters in his plays as they commit themselves to marriage, to legal obligations, and to religious observances, or as they express themselves in the casual profanity of day-to-day gossip. ... This fine book offers an extensive set of close readings in a similar vein covering many but not all of Shakespeare's plays. The readings are uniformly brilliant, learned, astutely argued, and insightful." --David Bevington, Renaissance Quarterly


"[An] absorbing, beautifully written study ... This fine book offers an extensive set of close readings in a similar vein covering many but not all of Shakespeare's plays. The readings are uniformly brilliant, learned, astutely argued, and insightful." --David Bevington, Renaissance Quarterly


"hakespeare's Binding Language addresses just about every oath, vow, promise, bond, gage, and contract in the canon ... the significance of Kerrigan's work -- not just in terms of scale, but also in terms of depth of knowledge -- can't be denied." --Kevin Curran, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900


..".Kerrigan investigates a wide variety of culturally specific norms governing this language and how Shakespeare interrogates those norms in his plays. For example, in examining Love's Labours Lost, Kerrigan points out that in Shakespeare's time, Cambridge and Oxford students were required to take a three-year pledge of celibacy to live with friends and study- a fact that makes the initial vow of the play comprehensible. The play suggests that Shakespeare found these pledges ridiculous and possibly tragic. In other chapters, Kerrigan addresses oaths of revenge, money and its bonds, matrimonial pledges, promises of loyalty to government, and swearing to God or gods. Each form of binding language has a historically specific constellation of meanings that Kerrigan uses to inform the plays. A fascinating, fresh, and erudite look at Shakespeare's plays." --B. A. McGowan, CHOICE


"Given this year's 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, there was always going to be a slew of new publications; few, I suspect, will have as long-lasting an effect as John Kerrigan's. His field of inquiry is both straightforward and complicated. It is almost retrospectively obvious that Shakespeare's plays contain a great amount of vows, oaths, swearing both covenantual and vulgar, pledges, promises and imprecations. The same might be said for a great many playwrights' works; but the depth of subtlety which Kerrigan finds in the handling of these specific rhetorical forms is compelling." --Stuart Kelly, The Spectator


"When you've spent most of your life teaching Shakespeare's plays, you don't expect to stumble upon a book that makes you feel you've failed to understand something essential about them. John Kerrigan's Shakespeare's Binding Language is just such a book...a profoundly rewarding book. It will prove indispensable, not only for those who enjoy reading the plays, but also for those who direct and act in them." --James Shapiro, Books of the Year 2016, New Statesman


"interesting general history...skilled exercise of literary criticism...the sheer intricacy of individual instances in Shakespeare is amazing...a convincing portrait of the artist as inquirer." --Michael Wood, London Review of Books


"A monumental intervention. This elegant and elaborate examination of the intertwined languages of law and drama will have a lasting impact on the field." --Willy Maley, Times Higher Education Supplement


"a massive, complicated and brilliant interpretation of the oaths, vows and promises that bind the characters in virtually every one of Shakespeare's plays...Shakespeare will only endure if we continually reinvent and reinterpret him, and Kerrigan has done just that. We will still be digesting his masterly work on vows and oaths by 2023 and the next Shakespeare celebration, the 400th anniversary of the First Folio's publication." --Jerry Brotton, The Daily Telegraph


"Shakespeare's Binding Language is among the most imaginative books on Shakespeare to be published this year....Kerrig...

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This remarkable, innovative book explores the significance in Shakespeare s plays of oaths, vows, contracts, pledges and the other utterances and 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. The proper use of such language, and the extent of its power to bind, was argued over by lawyers, religious writers, and satirists, and these debates inform literature and drama. Shakespeare s Binding Language gives a freshly researched account of these contexts, but it is focused on the plays. What motives should we look for when characters asseverate or promise? How far is binding language self-persuasive or deceptive? When is it allowable to break a vow? How do oaths and promises structure an audience s expectations? 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. Each chapter gives an account of a play or group of plays, yet the study builds to a sustained investigation of some of the most important systems, institutions, and controversies in early modern England, and of the wiring of Shakespearean dramaturgy. Scholarly but accessible, and offering startling insights, this is a major contribution to Shakespeare studies by one of the leading figures in the field. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780198757580

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Book Description OUP Oxford, 2016. Book Condition: New. Shakespeare's Binding Language is an innovative, substantial but highly readable study exploring 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. Num Pages: 648 pages. BIC Classification: 2AB; DSBD; DSGS. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 234 x 156. . . 2016. 1st Edition. Hardcover. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780198757580

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