The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare

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9780820307855: The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare

Gail Kern Paster explores the role of the city in the works of William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, and Ben Jonson. Paster moves beyond the usual presentation of the city-country dichotomy to reveal a series of oppositions that operate within the city's walls. These oppositions?city of God and city of man, Jerusalem and Rome, bride of the Lamb and whore of Babylon, ideal and real?together create a dual image of the city as a visionary ideal society and as a predatory trap, founded in fratricide, shadowed in guilt. In the theater, this duality affects the fate of early modern city dwellers, who exemplify even as they are controlled by this contradictory reality.

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About the Author:

Gail Kern Paster is the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library and editor of the Shakespeare Quarterly. She is the author of Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage and The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England.

Review:

Her book is original, imaginative, and illuminating. The dialectic approach provides Paster with the tools she needs to break down several boundaries of genre of comedies, tragedies, masques, and entertainments. She explores paradoxes, antithesis, and contradictions inherent in the idea of the city. In the process, she sheds light on the works of three major Renaissance playwrights. This is indeed a superb book.

(Journal of English and Germanic Philology)

A notable addition?learned, well-written, sprightly?to the growing literature of the city and our knowledge of the Renaissance London theatre and its relationship to the central social issues of its time and our own.

(Shakespeare Quarterly)

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Gail Kern Paster
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