Shakespeare and the Loss of Eden: The Construction of Family Values in Early Modern Culture

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9780333770849: Shakespeare and the Loss of Eden: The Construction of Family Values in Early Modern Culture

In a harsh, uncaring world the family is valued as a source of warmth and stability. At the same time, we are increasingly compelled to recognize that families can be oppressive both physically and emotionally. Now for the first time in paperback, Catherine Belsey's richly illustrated account of Shakespeare's plays, in conjunction with early modern images of Adam and Eve, locates the construction of family values in cultural history and politics. She shows the pleasures and anxieties generated in the period by the domestication of desire, parental love and cruelty and the relations between siblings - and discusses how Shakespeare's plays explore these themes.

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About the Author:

CATHERINE BELSEY is a distinguished literary critic and Shakespearean scholar. She is Chair of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory at the University of Wales, Cardiff.

Review:

Catherine Belsey's new book ... should become as provocative and influential in early modern studies as her earlier books, Critical Practice and The Subject of Tragedy. [It] is an exciting and highly intelligent book that should stimulate further work in cultural materialism.' – Georgianna Ziegler, Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen

'This compelling book ... rich not only in quotations but in illustrations ... Belsey is an excellent close reader as well as a shrewd cultural historian, and she moves between text and context with assurance. This book [provides an] arresting synthesis of sex, death, biblical myth, Shakespeare and tragedy itself.' – Helen Cooper, Shakespeare Studies

'As a study of early modern concepts of marital and family relationships, the book makes a substantial contribution to cultural history, but it does much more than that ... [It] deserves to be widely read ... the writing, always clear and efficient, rises to its greatest brilliance – sings, in fact, with the incisive wit and intellectual energy that have long delighted Belsey's readers.' – Phyllis Rackin, Shakespeare Quarterley

'This is a lively and readable book that deftly weaves textual analysis and cultural history.' – Dr Sasha Roberts, University of Kent at Canterbury

' ... examines the early modern family, finding in drama, which exists in tension, a perfect form to explore the ambiguities and abuses of courtship, marriage and parenthood ... An unusually entertaining work.' – David Jays, Plays International

'Belsey's book steers a deft path through a series of formalist concerns, drawing examples from an impressively wide range of representations. She never loses sight of the fundamentally historical nature of the process of signification and her treatment of texts of very different kinds is exemplary. This is a book that amply repays re-reading, a formidable combination of lucid explication, controlled speculation, and surprising insight.' – John Drakakis, Notes and Queries

'This wonderful sceptical book makes critical theory lucid and humane.' – Loraine Fletcher, The Independent

'An original and provocative book ... fascinating and timely.' – Professor Ann Thompson, Roehampton Institute and Editor of the Arden Shakespeare

'An immensely lively, provocative, amusing, vexing, illuminating, and entertaining book ... I felt a rare pang of regret when I reached its close.' – Stephen Greenblatt, The Harry Levin Professor of Literature, Harvard University

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